English is being used more and more as the international language of business. An example of that is the recent decision of the Milan Polythechnic to use it as their teaching medium. And ten years ago, English speakers were rare. Now you can find them everywhere. The increasing globalisation of business and industry requires a common communication medium, and those who can't use it will lose out.
In his book 'To rule the waves', Arthur Herman claims that it was on 15 July 1588 when events lead to English becoming the world's dominant language. The Royal Navy's final routing of the Spanish Armarda at the battle of Gravelines led to Spain's decline as the pricipal world power and the start of England's (later Britain's) dominance. Had the battle gone the other way, we would probably all be speaking Spanish on the airwaves!
I've often had 'intercept the localiser, report established' followed by 'continue on the glide, switch to tower' as my 'stealth' approach clearance in the UK.
In absence of that stick to Standard ICAO phraseology , best thing so far
shame the UK don't, eg Flight Level wun hundred etc. Standard ICAO is still Flight Level wun zero zero etc
also, why do EZY and FR pilots insist on telling ATC which waypoint they are routing to on handover between ACCs when CAP 413 states "ATCC to ATCC handover, report callsign and flight level only". (unless of course you are on a direct routing).
I suspect the main reason the French and Spanish continue to use their own language when speaking to each other is because it is safer for them not to have to translate every radio call twice eg. ATC...French to English...transmit/receive.... English to French...Flightdeck. Probably saves lives too.
Je dis encore: Ich sage noch einmal: Digo otra vez: I say again:
Let the ATCO input the clearance directly into the FMC via data link. If the pilots are happy they can select 'ACCEPT' accordingly. If not they can explain - in 'standard' aviation English (SAE) - why not. The technical equipment and software would be based on extant systems. Data link clearances could include:
Take-off, level change*, waypoint*, heading*, approach, land. These clearances, which account for most pilot-ATC communications, could be displayed on MCPs as captions. Clearances annotated with asterisks above would trigger an 'EXECUTE' option in the flight deck to feed the instruction directly to the autopilot or flight director.
I honestly can't believe that some people would rather have me, as a controller, speak to people in their second language that they might or might not understand properly just they might satisfy their own need for situational awareness...
Are they not realizing that in a terminal airspace, the traffic closest to them is on another frequency?... Never mind another language? I guess you expect that all terminals will now have one frequency for all their traffic so you can keep a good idea of where everybody is at? Come on!!
I really do believe situational awareness is an amazingly wonderful thing. But to claim to know where all your conflicting traffic is from the calls you hear on the air is preposterous!
So again, what are we to do? One airspace, one frequency? Because if we only allow one language in a given airspace for the sake of S.A. then this must also be done.
Are they not realizing that in a terminal airspace, the traffic closest to them is on another frequency?
You would be surprised how much you can pick up from communications to surrounding traffic. On the airways, at a minimum you pick up the callsign of the aircraft ahead and thus the next frequency to set (yes we do get rather bored in cruise ).
On approach, if you can match a callsign to the target preceding you on your TCAS display, you can really improve your SA: for example on an extended downwind (as you often get in CDG FRA DXB etc), by watching for when the controller turns the preceding traffic base you can get a very accurate idea of where your base will be and thus miles to run. In addition by listening out to the speeds and altitudes given to the preceding traffic you can get a good idea of what to expect for yourself, as well as what the next frequency will be (so you can preset it during a quiet moment).
Of course this is all rather more difficult to do if the chatter is in French or Spanish...
Main Dog, You make good points and you're obviously one of the more aware pilots on the air.
My main point, however, is that in a terminal environment, more often than not, the departure traffic will be segregated to another frequency than that of the arrivals. There are terminals with 4, 5 or even more frequencies being used.
What you described is obviously hampered by the use of two languages but in the end, altitude busts usually happen between departures and arrivals and seldom between airplanes that are following each other on TCAS regardless of language.
So while you might be fretting (or not ) about the traffic in front being in french, there might be an english speaker coming right at you on another frequency and you'll never know.
I can see one language being mandatory at an uncontrolled airport where comms and SA are the only separation you'll have but, where a controller is involved, I do believe that the best situation is when the controller can understand and be understood by the traffic he or she is controlling. If I'm in China and a Chinese pilot is making a run for me, I don't want the controller to try to speak english to him; I want him to get the message across quickly and clearly.
Last edited by Say Again, Over!; 5th Sep 2012 at 13:15.
France..what a joke ..they still drinking wine on the flt deck?
No, only champagne nowadays , it does not stain your shirt in the event of turbulence and does not leave a bad breath either. Flirting with Cabin crew is also allowed, as well as Team buiding exercises during stop overs. A scandal really
Last edited by ATC Watcher; 6th Sep 2012 at 21:42.
Brazil alone native speakers are about something like 200,000,000 people...
Brazilian? No it'll never catch on: There is a maximum of 9 oral vowels and 19 consonants, though some varieties of the language have fewer phonemes (Brazilian Portuguese is usually analyzed as having 8 oral vowels). There are also five nasal vowels, which some linguists regard as allophones of the oral vowels, ten oral diphthongs, and five nasal diphthongs. In total, Brazilian Portuguese has 13 vowel phonemes.
Holding at Tegucigalpa, Honduras one day I was put into holding in the clouds at 10,000 ft in our 757. I hear our controller talking in Spanish to another Spanish pilot behind us I guess clearing him for the approach.
Unfortunately my holding pattern is on his approach so as I see him on a collision course with us with our TCAS when I turn inbound said why do you have another aircraft at our altitude approaching our holding pattern. Lots of spanish and he climbs above us and they clear us for the approach. After that I never descended into the clouds there until I was cleared for the approach. Bilingual communications means no situational awareness for ICAO pilots.
Bubbers44, Were you saying you were denied SA because of the bilingual comms or not? From what I read, you had enough info to maintain SA throughout...?
You're assuming that the Spanish speaking controller cleared him for the approach but how do you know the other aircraft didn't bust his altitude and then the controller fixed it in Spanish? Had he said it in English, would you have relaxed your SA now that you "knew what was going on"? You see what I'm getting at?
It sounds as if all non-English speaking controllers are incompetent and trying to kill you with traffic speaking another language. You speak as if you need to understand all that's going on so you can save yourself from their incompetence. Meanwhile, in Britain, the USA or western Canada, everything is safe because it's all in English? Is it only non-English speakers that bust their cleared altitude? Do you think that because an altitude was given and read-back that the traffic you're now ignoring will stop below you?
The problem is not with bilingual comms. It has everything to do with the arrogance of a few pilots. Most are doing just fine trusting the work of the controller while keeping enough wits about them to detect mistakes from either side of the mike.
Hi there, I find it quite strange,if you fly to Afrika,French spreaking pilots speak English in non French speaking countries and French with French speaking ATC Why is that?Does not help other pilots much
I'm not disputing the first part of your post in any way. I'm not advocating cutting back on SA! What I'm saying is that to not provide ATC in french to a french pilot (or in spanish to a spanish pilot) has a more profound effect on safety than the reduced situational awareness you get from the double-dutch.
I work in a bilingual terminal, as you might have guessed. I get plenty of pilots practicing their English and it is certainly encouraged as speaking two languages will always be better than just one (even if that one language is English ). However, if that practice becomes an obstacle to controller-pilot communication then I speak to them in French. A clear communication channel between controllers and pilot trumps pilot-airspace-SA everytime.
For the second part of your post, I still say that bubbers44 was able to maintain his situational awareness despite the language barrier. In fact, had he heard it in english, he might have become complacent as we don't know if the other traffic didn't just bust a correctly read-back altitude.
About Trust as the answer to it all, I agree up to a point with B738 driver, and that point is illustrated by the Aviance Flight 52 crash of January 1990, not to forget the KLM/PANAM piggy back. Communications is yet another vital part of the whole issue of aviation safety and without appropriate standardisation of phraesology and language we all end up competing in lining up the holes in our little bits of Swiss Cheese