View Full Version : It's good to talk - PLEASE !!!

10th Sep 2002, 14:46
As the first anniversary approaches, people and organisations are understandably getting nervous.

At least twice this morning aircraft have been out of touch with French ATC for extended periods - one from Bordeaux to BARLU, the other for a lesser distance. Both have then found a French Air Force Mirage keeping them company. It may create some amazing photo opportunities, and give the military some useful practice, but it is not a very professional example of airmanship!

Both crews arrived on London frequencies a little chastened by their experience, but it could have been so much worse.

My worst fear is of an unrelated emergency occuring, such as a de-pressurisation, which requires a rapid descent. If the airliner happens to be in the vicinity of a "sensitive" location, normal emergency procedures may appear to have a totally different interpretation when viewed from the cockpit of an armed intercepter. The military pilot may have just seconds to decide on a course of action that could have consequences too frightening to contemplate.....

Please use your CRM to ensure that you are in contact with ATC at ALL times.

10th Sep 2002, 19:11
It must be good practice to monitor the frequency and if it;s quiet, call ATC to see if you are in contact with them.

If not, advice D and D on 121.5 - saves scrambling the fighters.

11th Sep 2002, 00:46
I understand your concern. <Please use your CRM to ensure that you are in contact with ATC at ALL times.>>

We try, and sometimes we fail. However sometimes we fail because there is constant yacking on the frequency, and usually it is in 'FRENCH'.

There are times when I cannot get a word in for ages. I have no idea when to make my call as I don't know who has last spoken to who.

So when it comes to 'CRM', perhaps French ATC have something to learn.

ENGLISH IS THE LANGUAGE. A n F/O died at CDG partly at least because ATC were talking in FRENCH!!

When will you folk start to realise that there is CRM in our flight decks and that there should be a CRM attitude within ATC.

I apolgise if I seem a little harse, but I feel it needs to be said.

Best wishes to all of you in ATC who have looked after me for 'donkeys years'.

11th Sep 2002, 03:00
The topic has a valid point.
We know ATC make a point of inviting aircrew to see them. Hell they even arrange open days for just that reason.
Some q's if you don't mind.
1/ ATC, what is the take up rate by airline bods?
2/ Is it high enough to gain an 'air to ground' understanding?
3/ Do you guys in ATC get regular J/seat rides to see the other side? (Yes it is still poss in the current situ, we just need to vet you)
4/ As exeng mentions CRM, how many of you guys (and girls) are INVITED by airlines to attend CRM courses?(A good CRM cuts both ways, and you should be able to learn from us, and in return, educate us.

Just a groundie looking in, trying to help the likes of Numpo keep the old BP down....................................Perhaps if the answers to the Q's aren't what the should be we can collectively do something about it.

Fly safe, and Numpo and co keep an eye on 'em.


11th Sep 2002, 06:39
A couple of guys miss their rt and the world has to attend crm courses. More productive watching grass grow.

Devils Advocate
11th Sep 2002, 06:46
Direct HALIFAX is right - and how about simply monitoring 121.5 on box 2 in case ATC, etc, are calling you on it ? It used to be called airmanship !

11th Sep 2002, 09:29
I agree with EXENG........

The amount of french spoken on frequency is enough to make a sane pilot wind the volume down. Minutes on-end of french language, amount to little more than static to me. Then when they call me - Ive shut off to it all.

As for 121.5 - I miss more genuine calls on box 1 because of the [email protected] on that frequency that shouldnt be!

PPRuNe Radar
11th Sep 2002, 09:38

Probably running at more than a couple PER day at the moment. Unauthorised abscence from the frequency is now a mandatory MOR offence by ATC, as well as pilots involved running the risk of some unexpected formation flying.

Usually turns out to be finger trouble, or selecting an incorrect frequency. We're all human after all and all make mistakes so it's going to happen. Bone up on your interception procedures folks, and make sure you don't go too fast for the Tornados !!!

11th Sep 2002, 10:13
Very interesting topic and one that concerns me.I very rarely post on pprune as I am tired of outspoken comments from (presumably) pimply youths expounding like Concorde captains.I work for a company that has recently started multiple rotations through CDG,as well as that well known ATC blackspot,NCE plus many overflights of la Belle France(no prizes for guessing).I am absolutely horrified at the potential and actual loss of situational awareness caused by rapid-fire French speaking on French ATC,the prize example of this is CDG.Now, I really like France,the wine,food etc.,and I am really sorry that English is the international r/t language,but this is the fact.I can personally get by in French and understand a lot of the ATC communication,but my one man campaign to reduce the level of French r/t is to say absolutely nothing in French.Not even bonjour,au revoir,bonne journee,directe Barlu merci,bon soir etc.Fellow ppruners who traverse French airspace may like to follow suit.121.5 on box 2 is just good airmanship.Merci.

Buster Hyman
11th Sep 2002, 13:21
And if the airline concerned were to be charged for the intercept by the respective air forces......:confused:

Fright Level
11th Sep 2002, 13:53
I agree with the comments about French ATC, no other country uses their native language to the same degree in the air. The worst thing is losing situational awareness. I don't speak much French but am very concerned when you hear the controller informing other aircraft of your relative position but not giving reciprocal information.

ICAO should enforce the international language of aviation to help keep us all in the big picture.

11th Sep 2002, 15:43
The uptake of flight crew visits to ATC from my experience is very low, when you do visit it is also for a short time.
Regarding fam flights ,since the 20th Aug there have been further restrictions placed by the CAA with some airlines now not allowing ATCO's on the jump seat.
We need more interaction to get things running as smoothly as we can between us, but those not at the sharpend don't seem to care or maybe just do not understand .

I think the French debate will just run and run ,maybe its a ploy to get you all to learn the language.

11th Sep 2002, 16:22
Another problem is the one of 'reciever sleep' when for no apparent reason the radio stops recieving. Can be cured / avoided by occasionaly keying the Tx switch.

11th Sep 2002, 20:15
I agree with the comments about French ATC, no other country uses their native language to the same degree in the air.

Hmmmm.... a bit narrow-minded, I am afraid to say.

Have you ever flown in Central & South America?

You almost need to know Spanish, because certain ATC controllers' English proficiency is surprisingly low. Airliners and IFR traffic conduct their ATC in their native language = Spanish.

As for the statement that the French language on ATC caused the accident at CDG I would be careful. Runway incursions happen very often (one needs to look @ LAX). Speaking and reading back English does not mean understanding it. If you are proficient in another language other than your native language you'll understand.

I am absolutely horrified at the potential and actual loss of situational awareness caused by rapid-fire French speaking on French ATC

True... but ORD, LAX, BOS and JFK (that's in English :D ;) ) aren't any less "rapid-fire spoken", especially in IMC.

Regarding languages other than English permitted to be used for ATC, I believe that they are French, Spanish, Russian and Chinese. I mentioned this before in another thread, but I haven't found the time to find the reference yet (please stand by).

11th Sep 2002, 21:31
A sort of ex colleague of mine gave his life a year or so ago due to the insistence of the French to speak their own language at CDG (remember the Streamline Shed). I havent been to that airfield for ages. Am I right in assuming that nothing has changed there?

11th Sep 2002, 22:07
The answer is to ask ATC what was said every time a TX is made in a forgein language. They soon get tired of explaining mundane messages and revert to English.

11th Sep 2002, 22:29
... tried that when flying in Mexican airspace. The controllors immediately caught my intention and advised me that:

1. they had not enough time
2. national traffic is not required to know the English language
3. they would point out any potential conflicting traffic to me.
(at the end you do not want to p!ss off a controller, esp. if you are in foreign airspace)

back to the accident @ CDG. French being used on R/T is one of the contributing factors. Here's a summary of the accident report:

PROBABLE CAUSE: The accident was caused:

Firstly, by the LOC controller's erroneous perception of the position of the aircraft, this being reinforced by the context and the working methods, which led him to clear the Shorts to line up,

Secondly, by the inadequacy of systematic verification procedures in ATC which made it impossible for the error to be corrected,
Finally, by the Shorts' crew not dispelling any doubts they had as to the position of the 'number one' aircraft before entering the runway.

Contributory factors include:

Light pollution in the area of runway 27, which made a direct view difficult for the LOC controller.

Difficulty for the LOC controller in accessing radar information: the ASTRE image was difficult to read and the AVISO image not displayed at his control position.

The use of two languages for radio communications, which meant that the Shorts crew were not conscious that the MD 83 was going to take off.

The angle between access taxiway 16 and the runway which made it impossible for the Shorts crew to perform a visual check before entering the runway.

The lack of co-ordination between the SOL and LOC controllers when managing the Shorts, exacerbated by the presence of a third party whose role was not defined.

A feedback system which was recent and still underdeveloped.

due to the insistence of the French to speak their own language at CDG

I am not trying to play down the accident, but a similar accident occured in Italy where a Scandinavian MD-80 crashed into a D-registered Citation. Both were using English R/T, there was bad vis., gnd radar inop etc. I think posting that the accident @ CDG is entirely to blame because of dual languages usage is a bit much ... :confused:

11th Sep 2002, 22:59
I have operated into all the U.S. airfields quoted in my previous long-haul and jet-lagged existence.There is no obvious comparison in that the American controllers just speak fast,but at least it is in English.And I don't necessarily agree that they do talk that fast.Going back to France,can anyone clarify whether they are legally obliged to speak English on the radio or is that just myth?Nevertheless, CDG and NCE are IMHO chaotic and border-line dangerous airfields,the dual language problem being a significant factor.

12th Sep 2002, 04:20
Here's an intermediate answer:

ICAO Annex 10, Vol. II, Chapter 5 lines out the phraseology of R/T, but it doesn't specify English as the language to be used.

A.I.P. Canada 5.2 says that both English and French can be used. (CAR 602.133 134 and 135) It also says that once a language has been determined, the pilot should refrain from changing language [...]

Let's take a look at Mexico [taken out of the Jepps]:

ICAO rules of the air and air traffic services

2A.1.1 ( Language to be used

2A.1.1.1 Recomendation - In general, the air-ground radiotelephony radiocomunications should be conducted in the language normally used by the station on the ground.

on the other side, on 2A.1.1.2 it recommends that for universal use of aeronautical radiocomunications the english language should be used or available upon request from the aircraft station

notice should not must.

confusing ...

more to follow

12th Sep 2002, 15:57
Thanks,7777,the French rules would be interesting,if you can dig them out.

Ignition Override
14th Sep 2002, 04:02
It is enough of an irritation with the US requirement to have the second radio on: two frequencies in English are ridiculous. You can't do a checklist while calling out "two to go", "one to go", with this crap going on. If a fighter jet intercepts an airliner, not only should the pilot flash all his lights on and off several times until we wave at him, acknowledgeing that "you have the lead!", but he should stroke his/her afterburner a few times at night-this will get some passenger's attention and they will quickly get the crew's attention, if nothing else has worked.

Many years ago, an entire C-130 crew fell asleep over Southeast Asia, while heading "up north"! The clever F-4 pilot , who was sent to shoot them down if necessary, finally woke up an exhausted crewmember on the very loud turboprop, having no sound-proofing (might have been on duty for 20 hours, or more), by banging his afterburner several times. The crew bought the pilot much free beer (or maybe a two-legged reward...?) after they returned. Another guy in an OV-10 over South Korea had the friendlies fire a few rounds either into his plane or just in front, when he got lost one day, but was awake, in the same situation. I heard that his lucky reward was to go to Sembach AFB, Germany (maybe he joined the Hash House Harriers?).

15th Sep 2002, 18:39
Bored Counter,

I have been involved in some of the visits to ATC by pilots, and they seem a really good way of dispelling a few myths. I am not sure of the take up rates, although some companies seem better at releasing people than others. It is a really worthwhile day if any of you chaps get the chance.
I would love to get Famil flights, but have been refused every time I have asked recently. Perhaps you have a contact we could use to get vetted?

Personally I think the more we understand about each others job the better, it can only improve relations.