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The term "Souls on board"

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The term "Souls on board"

Old 25th Jan 2009, 20:46
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The term "Souls on board"

Anybody share my irritation at hearing the term "souls on board" being used in emergency situations? Why not just use something less melodramatic like persons on board? Maybe I'm being too pedantic but let me explain...

I've just been listening to an ATC recording of a BMI emergency at Dublin a while back and the controller came on and asked if they could give the "souls on board". It was only a minute or two into the emergency (smoke in the cockpit - returning to land at EIDW) so I would have thought giving that info was the least of the crew's worries. As it happens the controller got no response and even several minutes later a rescue vehicle asked Ground the same question to which the reply was "we're still trying to ascertain that". Obviously the crew was busy flying the plane from a smoky cockpit and rightly thought this request way down their list of priorities.

I don't know where and when this term originated - probably in a Hollywood movie by the sounds of it - but I felt after hearing that recording that the professionality of the flight crew was being undermined by the people on the grounds' doom-impending attitude in referring to the passengers and crew already being condemmed to a certain death. I know it's a global term so I don't mean to criticise the Dublin ATC personally - it's just a gripe I have hearing that and reading accident reports. Why not just use some term like "persons on board" and leave the rest to Hollywood
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 20:52
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I'm not quite sure what you're getting at there, first you make the arguement that it shouldn't have been asked at all and then you finish by saying they should say persons on board instead of souls on board, is it the terminology or the fact that it was used during an emergency that you're objecting to?

Also, I thought ATC could get the amount of seats sold for a particular flight off the ops department anyway, wouldn't that give them a max number of people that would be on board anyway?
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 20:52
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Google and all will be revealed. Try a little 'professionalism' whilst you are at it.
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 20:53
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Search is wonderful

http://www.pprune.org/atc-issues/324...tion-soul.html
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 21:00
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You'll hear some discussions about interpretation of POB - some will tell you that it refers to the number of people excluding crew members. Souls appears universally to be understood as every body irrespective of their status or operating capacity. There is some interesting debate about whether a body that was already known to be dead on departure should be included in the total.....

Whilst it may seem unimportant, the number on board is requested so that if the worst comes to the worst the emergency services know when to stop looking for bodies.

The fact that Dublin ATC did not hassle the crew for an answer suggests that they recognised that the crew may have had other more important things going on = both crew and ATC were doing their respective jobs, very professionally, and with the best outcome.

Maybe melodramatic to your ears but I doubt that the crew thought much about it.


PS - agree with other posters - Google is a handy thing to use.

Last edited by Spitoon; 25th Jan 2009 at 21:25.
 
Old 25th Jan 2009, 21:06
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It's the term "souls" I find irritating. Hearing it used by ATC made it all the more so. If they really need to ask then they should use "persons" etc - but they didn't need to ask, as you say that info is readily obtained elsewhere.
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 21:32
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If "souls" irritates you personally, then so be it. I don't really care whether we use "souls" or "persons" However,

as you say that info is readily obtained elsewhere.
Have to take issue with that, because it's [I]not[I] always readily available. It depends on being able to get in touch with the company, on a landline or mobile phone, and they may not be able to obtain that info instantly. In the above case, as has already been said, both crew and ATC dealt professionally with the situation - ATC asked for S/POB, and did not press the crew when the answer wasn't forthcoming.
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 21:34
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Sorry OTTO, You just do not understand. Read the posts.
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 21:55
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Talking as I do to my little puddle jumpers its one thing I often ask as they coast out over the sea...report souls on board....better to find out now whilst all is calm and collective rather than hasle the gou as he calls Mayday with engine failure over the water.....at least the Rescue services will know how many folk they are looking for.............never had a complaint yet about putting the fear of God into anyone!!!!
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 22:10
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Am I right in thinking that the military always use POB? Perhaps they think that military aviators do not have souls.

I recently heard my local civil Radar advise a 737 that there was a low level Navy Lynx in the area with 3 POB. Why would Ryanair crews be interested in how many people were aboard the Lynx?
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 22:15
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I remember when I was training at the college one of the instructors (and I honestly can't remember which one! ) tried to make us all use 'Persons on Board' as opposed to 'Souls on Board'. His logic was that 'Souls on Board' would suggest that everyone was already dead in an emergency situation and that it might un-nerve the pilots........
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 22:19
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Why would Ryanair crews be interested in how many people were aboard the Lynx?
Ryanair are always interested in load factors!
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 22:20
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Aren't body and soul separated at death?

Are human remains necessarily anything more than fragments, or ash?

Why the [email protected]*k can't ATC ask the handling agent - they have a copy of the loadsheet - if I've called mayday, I may be too busy to be involved in admin
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 22:43
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Because we don't know who your handling agent is e.g. you may be diverting into an unusual airport, so we need to know as the previous posts have stated. If you refuse to say, and some firemen are killed going into your plane to rescue some non existant pax, won't you feel a bit of a ****?

Just answer the question when able. Thank you.
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 23:20
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Not a big issue for the operator I fly for - loadsheet right in front of us and box shows THOB = Total Heads on Board (= POB)

Reminds me of a regular who used to fly his C150 at EMA when they always asked for souls on board - his reply was always "Just me and the dog!" He always flew with his black labrador.
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 23:43
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Anybody share my irritation at hearing the term "souls on board" being used in emergency situations? Why not just use something less melodramatic like persons on board? Maybe I'm being too pedantic but let me explain...

Well, Otto, if you want to be pedantic about dispensing with the use of such a time-honoured expression, derived like so many from life at sea, maybe you should start calling yourself something other than a "pilot" with its nautical origins - a "driver" perhaps ......

PS Incidentally, souls in the context at issue means living souls.
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Old 25th Jan 2009, 23:55
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As Union Jack says, it's living souls hence when I used to fly the occasional coffin out to Arnhemland for a funeral would confirm something like "Four POB, three souls" if only to spare the emergency services wasting their time trying to revive a week-old corpse in the event of a 'happening' .
 
Old 26th Jan 2009, 01:23
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I've been on aircraft where the 'Souls on board' would have been more accurately described if prefixed with an 'R'.

When I did my Marine VHF course we were taught to use "Persons on board". No-one ever used the term "Souls".
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Old 27th Jan 2009, 05:12
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'Persons On Board' , yep , I'll go with that...

bumping a 'NeverGo' around SW QLD over 25yr ago , this sexy,silky siren from CV FSU would always made sure I had mentioned PoB with taxi/airbourne Tx. So, OK,Im sure u r all dying to ask ,YES I Did find the 'need' to divert east to CV for fuel, AND to wonder over to the FSU, AND YES, you got it in ONE ...the voice on the reply of Cancel SAR never seemed as sexy&silky as I had ONCE imagined...
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Old 27th Jan 2009, 18:11
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Unfortunately I've heard the term souls and persons used together.
An RAF Herc was repatriating the bodies of a downed RN Heli, I asked for his POB and he replied " 7 persons, 11 souls"

I was informed by an older and wiser controller that this was information for us and the firecrews in case of a further accident.
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