View Full Version : How to "cancel" MAYDAY

31st Mar 2003, 22:49
I hope this is the right place to post this question.

When getting my international R/T certificate we learned that if you wanted to cancel an emergency (i.e. your engine did start again), the correct phrase is:

"my callsign" CANCEL DISTRESS .....

you should NEVER EVER use the phrase "CANCEL MAYDAY", as the word MAYDAY usually triggers everybody and starts the panic.

Now I'm browsing through an UK PPL-theory book, that suggest the phrase "CANCEL MAYDAY".

Is the phrase "CANCEL DISTRESS" a local danish/scandinavian phrase or should I correct the UK-book. Anybody knows what the ICAO-docs says ??

bagpuss lives
1st Apr 2003, 01:53
I've always been told the correct phraseology is "CANCEL MAYDAY" but that again, could be wrong.

vintage ATCO
1st Apr 2003, 02:07
CAP413 Radiotelephony Manual says 'cancel MAYDAY'.

vintage ATCO

1st Apr 2003, 02:15

When you declare MAYDAY that call is a broadcast to any station listening that you have an emergency situation. The MAYDAY call is strictly to get everyones attention that you have a very serious problem requiring immediate assistance.

In my 17 years I have never heard someone broadcast that I'm cancelling my MAYDAY. In your example if your engine restarts and appears to be running normally you can tell the ATC facility that responded, that you are cancelling your emergency, and that the situation is under control or remedied, you may cancel your emergency but state that you want to still make a precautionary landing at another airfield.

Either way ATC may ask that you contact them upon arrival at your destination to ensure that you landed safely.


1st Apr 2003, 03:17
Is CAP413 an international document or is it UK ??

1st Apr 2003, 05:56
CAP413 is a UK document

1st Apr 2003, 06:35
Generally I would think that any situation severe enough to cause someone to call a Mayday is not going to fix itself in enough time to allow this to unfold in the first place. Secondly if you are asked that in an exam as a question then the examiners need to have a good look at themselves and worry about the quality of real thoery being retained.

I myself would be looking for the aircraft to report operations normal or advise intentions such as expecting a normal app and landing or something. You can be pretty sure that if u make a mayday call and ATC hears it and you do make some comment as to the situation getting better you will be having the full crash service roll out for your arrival (we had a tender retired after its entire career with never firing foam in anger)at most controlled aerodromes anyway I would think.

1st Apr 2003, 20:17
I'm sure in the real world - such a situation would be handled with high attention from ATC-services involved all making sure I get well back on the ground.

Unfortunately when taking a JAR-FCL r/t certficate limited to VFR-operations only, you have to pass a multiple choise theory test (24 questions each having 4 possible answers), things have to be by the book - otherwise you fail.

One question could be the scenario I have mentioned, which may not be that far out
- imagine a pilot running one fueltank empty - engine quits - he does his checks and call mayday at once - 30 secs. later, when the engine now receives fuel again after the fuel selector has been changed to a tank with fuel in it, everything runs normal again.
After a few minutes of normal operation the pilots decides to cancel the emergency - what is the correct phrase ??

- In Denmark it is "cancel distress"
- in UK i seems to be "cancel mayday"

how about the rest of Europe and US ??

2nd Apr 2003, 07:45

In the US, it is cancel emergency, and if you want you can add that the problem (what is was) is corrected and that you are able to continue onto your destination. In fact I would encourage the pilot to add the second statement so that the controllers won't keep worrying.

Has this happened, oh yes, and it has either been a fuel starvation (forgot to switch tanks) or a carb icing problem.

Mike R

4th Apr 2003, 05:55
"Cancel MayDay" will be fine as you must have already set the alarms ringing/pulse racing by screaming Mayday in the first place. Other variants could be a downgrade to PAN instead if the problem is still needing attention, but not critical as first though.

I have had an emergency PAN cancelled on the RT, unfortunately it was a Medical PAN and priority was requested instead for "Humanitarian Grounds" which was duly given anyhow.

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