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"Don't call mayday over the radio...!"

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"Don't call mayday over the radio...!"

Old 12th Nov 2008, 20:40
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A friend of mine, a non-native English speaker, had the PA28 fan quit on him last year and declared this to the ATC RADAR frequency he was working, who told him to contact XYZ. He replied 'Negative, I have an engine failure', whereupon he was once more told to contact the alternative frequency.

Running out of altitude, he decided to concentrate on landing the aircraft, successfully, in a field.

Admittedly, he didn't use the words MAYDAY or PAN PAN but I would have thought the words 'engine' and 'failure' in the same sentence should have been enough for the controller to take the proper action.

In the past 12 months I have had 4 x problems, all of which have resulted in ATC scambling the fire trucks for me, one in EGHH, two in LFMD and one in LGIR. Many thanks to the ATC and the fire crews on each occasion there.
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 20:45
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Red face exceedingly bad luck . . . . . . !

In the past 12 months I have had 4 x problems, all of which have resulted in ATC scrambling the fire trucks for me
That's more than anyone deserves in a LIFETIME of flying, never mind a twelvemonth ! !

Would it be impertinent to suggest that you may need to review the standards of your regular maintenance organisation ? ?
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 20:52
  #23 (permalink)  
 
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3 different aircraft from 3 separate organisations.

Luck of the draw I'm afraid.

None of them turned out to be anything serious but I don't believe in taking chances and obviously ATC don't.

Anyone wanna come flying with me?

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Old 12th Nov 2008, 21:37
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I have noticed that when doing simulator checks for work, often the other pilot doesn't want to declare a MAYDAY, even for an engine failure. I've also heard "well its not on fire so I think a PAN is sufficient".

Whereas I would say, bugger that, I'm calling a MAYDAY. Why not?

Even when I call a MAYDAY for an engine failure (in the sim) I sometimes get the other pilot saying "well we can downgrade it to a PAN". Why? Surely an engine failure is pretty serious!!! Why NOT call a MAYDAY???

PAN is not always recognised abroad, and although I would use it in the UK in certain circumstances, perhaps if engine was running not quite right, but was still running, and not causing a problem with the flight path. But if I had any doubt I would just call a mayday.
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 21:46
  #25 (permalink)  
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Maybe its me alone but I do have a big problem calling a mayday Too dramatic
Looking from an external viewpoint
If my house is on fire I get out & call the fire service by dialling 999 not by ringing their normal landline number.
The on going fire safety publicity stresses that they would rather be called to a good intent false alarm that a serious incident develop.
I've actually had the opposite at work, where the fire service asked for assistance with an electrical incident affecting the internal wiring of a property (not really my employers resposibility. The Crew Manager was concerned that they had done the right thing by calling us - of course they had.
If I am with someone who collapses I get an ambulance by dialling 999 - not ringing the local hospital or doctors surgery

So as I see it the PAN & MAYDAY are your equivalent of these services you have an emergency, you need help that is how to get it.
Talking to an ATCO earlier there is no issue if it was a genuine concern and all the emergency teams are called out, but a failure to declare an emergency could have massive consequences.
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 04:26
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Call a Mayday. You can always down grade it to pan after you have calmed down and got things under control.

One day during the climb, things were not quite as they should be, T&P's not quite right. We turned back towards the airfield and called the tower....... no response. Called again.......... no response. Temp was rising and pressure dropping but we could see the airfield Called the tower....... no response. Prop was spinning but no power.
I looked at the guy in the other seat and we both said "bugger this" (or words to that effect) MAYDAY MAYDAY MADAY Woooooooooooo instant response "the airfield is yours land wherever you need to"

We landed safely but only just scraped in over the boundary fence.
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 06:28
  #27 (permalink)  
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"Traffic?"

The only time I have heard this phrase is when communicating on unicom on unmanned fields in the US and it is used to announce one's intentions or position to other aircraft.

I haven't seen the letter in Pilot - was it definitely a UK field?
 
Old 13th Nov 2008, 07:36
  #28 (permalink)  
 
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As an ex-D&D inmate (many many years ago!) I would suggest that if you have to decide whether to call MAYDAY or PAN ... ALWAYS go for MAYDAY in the 1st instance and downgrade later if necessary. No one is going to think anything other than relief that things are looking better for you.

To call PAN and then have the problem deteriorate rapidly may not give you the chance of upgrading.

BTW
(Thread creep warning) Positively NO "Practice Mayday" calls! ... There was once such a call made near Yeovilton ... 'Yeovil Flag XX' then 'practiced' buying beer (lots) in the wardroom
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 08:22
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I read this letter and apart from the patent stupidity of "don't call Mayday on the radio", the 'facts' as stated did not make sense to me in that the "Controller" (as referred to twice) allegedly said "we are XXX TRAFFIC when you call". As far as I am aware TRAFFIC is used e.g. out-of-hours at a FIS aerodrome or for a blind call if no response received from an A/G "Radio" station. In neither case would a "Controller" be involved. That made me question the accuracy of the content of the letter as presented.
Sounds to me like the "Controller" might have been an airborne instructor who, rightly or wrongly, thought that his solo student had made a simulated mayday call with the PTT held down by mistake.
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 08:38
  #30 (permalink)  
 
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There seems to a be a fundamental issue here with some people not understanding what Mayday actually means.

It is a condition of being threatened by serious or iminent danger and of requiring immediate assistance.

The fundamental reason for having to hold a radio operator's licence is so that we can demonstrate that we know how to handle messages appertaining to the safety of life. ITU Radio Regulations Art 35.

So if you have a licence, you should know what it is and how to deal with it.

Will the RT police be round to have a word?
Some years ago we had IRIS who monitored RT standards but now its more akin to Slack Alice. I recall hearing a Military ATCO ask a pilot who called Mayday on running out of fuel on final "Is this a real one or a practice!"
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 11:53
  #31 (permalink)  
 
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Whopty

I agree MAYDAY should only be used in case of imminent danger, otherwise it's a PAN.

Imminent would be to me the loss of an engine in a SEP, severe icing leading to descent, fire on board etc.

As long as you feel your airplane will be controllable till the landing (eg gear failure) it s a PAN in my view
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 12:05
  #32 (permalink)  

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In the 1970s it was a requirement for trainee RAF pilots to spend an hour in the ATC tower every month and sign a log as having done so (v. good idea, in my view).

The Jet Provost's r/t system made both pilots' microphones "live" whenever either transmit button was pressed so you had to be careful not to "butt in" from the other seat.

One day we heard a student call: "MAYDAY.... MAYDAY....PRACTICE MAYDAY!"

Immediately followed in the same transmission by "You IDIOT!" from his instructor.

All the air traffickers jumped a foot, then hooted with laughter!
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 12:06
  #33 (permalink)  
 
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Actually I have long thought that the mayday call would be much more pithy as:

"F**K, F**K, F**K"!! Summarises the situation when the donk has quit at 100 feet quite nicely I think.
I always thought it was a mistake when the nautical people decided to abbreviate the traditional "S**T, OH S**T" call.
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 13:04
  #34 (permalink)  
 
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I have my own personal set of rules for this. If something happens which really captures my attention and I have any doubt about getting the aircraft on the ground safely, or if it is a medical emergency, then it is a MAYDAY. Any aircraft problem which causes me to deviate from my planned flight profile, then it is a PAN.

Examples in the last couple of years:

Oily blue smoke in cockpit causing streaming eyes and a hacking cough (all engine indications normal) - MAYDAY

One fuel gauge dropped from 3/4 to 1/4 over about 30 secs - PAN and diversion.

Always start with a high bid in my view. Downgrade it if and when you are content that the situation is resolved.
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 15:08
  #35 (permalink)  
 
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I must say I find this discussion (and many others like it on PPrune) amazing. What on earth is the point of the Mayday/Pan distinction? Either you're in trouble and you need all the help you can get, or not. Having to stop and wonder whether you should call "Mayday" or "Pan" (or maybe just "Excuse me, I don't want to bother anyone") is a waste of time and energy.

In the US (which is where I fly, mainly) nobody has ever heard of Pan. It's in AIM (I just checked) but nobody ever talks about using it. What exactly does it mean? Mayday is obvious - get everyone else off freq, clear the field, roll the firetrucks. But Pan? Listen carefully? Put the paper down and leave the sudoku til later?

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Old 13th Nov 2008, 15:42
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Hello!

Mayday is obvious - get everyone else off freq, clear the field, roll the firetrucks. But Pan? Listen carefully? Put the paper down and leave the sudoku til later?
Yes, at least this is what we get told in Germany too (and I have been telling my own students for over 15 years now).

Here, "Mayday" is supposed to be a one-word shortcut (to be repeated three times though) for "Whoever is listening: I have a big problem here; I herewith declare an ermergency; everybody else please shut up; ATC please give me priority and all possible support". This "Mayday" word is only the prefix to the message itself, that you pass thereafter. You are supposed to call Mayday on the frequency that you are actively using - and on 121.5 when you are not currently in radio-contact with anybody.

"Pan", on the other hand, is the prefix to an "urgency message". It is the abbreviation for "Hello everyone, I have something urgent to pass, please be quiet for a moment until I'm done with it." A "Pan"-message does not even have to be aviation related, the textbook example being a pilot who oberserves a car crash below and tells ATC, who have direct telephone lines to the rescue services, about it. Calling "Pan" gives you no special treatment by ATC at all (in this country!). If the Pan message is related to yourself, your aeroplane or your passengers, ATC will respond by asking "Do you wish to declare an emergency". If so, you should better have called "Mayday" in the first place, because this yould have saved you the time and distraction of two extra transmissions.

Greetings, Max

NB: A controller answering with "Don't call Mayday over the radio" to a Mayday call would immediately be suspended here. He probably wouldn't even be allowed to finish his shift.
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 15:59
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Red face obvious, innit ?

A controller answering with "Don't call Mayday over the radio" to a Mayday call would immediately be suspended here
and quite right too . . . . !

how else do you call a Mayday ?
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 18:26
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how else do you call a Mayday ?
"Gander Oceanic, Speedbird One, message"
"Speedbird One, Gander, say again"
"Gander, Speedbird One and we have a message for you"
"Allright Speedbird One, go ahead and pass your message"
"Gander, Speedbird One, message is 'mayday mayday mayday the wing is on fire'"
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 20:14
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Calling "Pan" gives you no special treatment by ATC at all (in this country!)
Then thay are not acting in accordance with ICAO Annex 10 which states that an aircraft making an Urgency call shall have priority over all other traffic except a distress call!
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Old 13th Nov 2008, 21:08
  #40 (permalink)  
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...aircraft making an Urgency call shall have priority over all other traffic except a distress call!
As I found out inbound to LGW last year on a "Pan Pan" to be told on contacting them, "I hope you have another plan, you're number two to Mayday traffic."
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