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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, 10:59
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Thumbs down "Don't call mayday over the radio...!"

Anybody else see this letter in Pilot Mag Dec '08 (page 36)?

Originally Posted by D R Hardy, Pilot Letters
I was amazed at the behaviour of the controller on duty at XXX airfield when a pilot made a 'Mayday' call. It was obvious he was in trouble due to his voice over the radio. Firstly the controller said "Don't call mayday over the radio, and we are XXX traffic when you call". The pilot reported engine failure. I was on final, but got out of his way. Unfortunately he had to put down in a field short of the runway.
Would love to know where XXX is.
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 11:10
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Couldonlyaffordafiver
 
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I'd be interested to hear how the villain of the piece suggests you call "Mayday". Shout out of the window, perhaps?

Prat.
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 11:39
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On the one occasion I had to make a Mayday (minor mid-air collision, if there is such a thing) I called both on 121.5 and local airfield frequency, as I thought it likely they would be interested and possibly even have to take any necessary action.

I didn't start the call with an airfield full identity, only position of the incident, since I was mildly busy at the time enduring the sircraft was sufficiently controllable and stucturally sound enough so that I didn't need to rely on Mr Irvin's useful product.

If any controller had complained I would not have bothered to respond until later, when I might have considered an appropriate discussion.
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 12:18
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Red face

Surely, this is another one that the pilot concerned should be reporting to CHIRP ?
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 13:18
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Don't call Mayday...

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.

The Pan call could similarly be replaced by:

"Bugg*r, Bugg*r, Bugg*r", as it carries a degree of irritation without quite as much immediate concern as the former.

These could initially be "piloted" in the vicinity of XXX airfield, with the intention to phase it in globally thereafter.



FBW
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 13:58
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Just read that letter. Either there was some sort of misunderstanding or the controller/radio operator was completely out of order. Either way I don't imagine the matter will end there. I seem to remember reading a report recently (CHIRP?) about controllers/operators getting shirty when the wrong callsign is used i.e. calling them 'radio' when they should be 'tower' etc.; I don't think the CAA take a very positive view of that sort of pettiness.
AMEandPPL, I would say that if true that is an MOR matter, not CHIRP; nothing confidential about it and far too serious.
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 14:08
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It is also strange how many pilots are reluctant to call a mayday preferring to down grade to "I have a problem"

Maybe its because they do have a problem and dont yet consider it a mayday or they are embarrassed or dont want the fuss and paperwork.

I had two fairly recent events one a corporate jet filling with smoke at night and the other a depressurisation climbing through 17000 feet.

Strangely while being asked whether I was declaring an emergency on both occasions I had a reluctance to do so.

The first after some thought Yes the second NO just a descent and diversion.

Do others here have the same mental block in doing so and why?

Pace
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 14:52
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Shouldn't happen but everyone can make a mistake.

On my first night circuit in a Wessex 5 helicopter some 30 years ago, we suffered a hydraulic failure, a "land asap, running landing" emergency.

I called "(Callsign) Wessex, PAN PAN PAN, hydraulic failure downwind, request priority running landing on the runway" (rather than a hover landing on the normal helicopter T night landing spots inside the runway) .

ATC said: "Stand by - I have a simulated engine failure joining shortly".

My instructor said on the radio: "He didn't say "Practice PAN.....it's a real one".

ATC: Oh, er...Ooops sorry, clear land on the runway.

(So I did and the hydraulic fluid melted the new tarmac they'd just had laid).

From the RAF's finest ATC school
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 15:45
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It does seem a bit dramatic at times even to call a justified pan, I don't know why one is so reluctant. I remember a partial engine failure, while revalidating my licence (expired by four days, yet). This left us able to maintain height at the expense of a loss of some airspeed, and my examiner and I spent most of the struggle back to the airport discussing whether we should call a pan, and in the end didn't, as the place was pretty quiet anyway. Got back to a definite "get this landing right" situation, much crosswind and a wet runway adding to the fun. To his eternal credit, my examiner let me land the unfamiliar aircraft while keeping his mouth shut and hands still.
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 17:57
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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.

Earlier this year I had to make my first distress call for real when I had one and a half mags failure, and needed a prompt rejoin to my FIS base aerodrome, with priority in the active circuit as any go-around would be impossible; I must admit one reason I called a Pan and not a Mayday was the incorrect assumption that the latter would involve formal paperwork! Where I got that idea from is a mystery. The Pan call was the correct one to make, even if for the wrong reason. All ended well, circuit was cleared for me and I landed with a dead engine. Phew.

Slip
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 18:20
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When my donk quit at 200' on finals I just called "G-XX, engine failure on finals. landing in undershoot". I kind of assumed that they would work out that this was not normal. No time really for much more.

Will the RT police be round to have a word?
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 18:28
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First off, can someone post a link to this subject? Please

Secondly, as an ATCO I have a few words to say on the subject, such as have been posted on this thread.

I currently work at a military airfield where they aren't shy about declaring PAN or MAYDAY if there is an issue. However, I've also worked at a few civvy airfields (soon to return to fully civ. ATC), and I have had, on a few occasions, been forced to say "say again?" to a waffly "I'm returning with an engine/hydraulic/gear/ take you pick problem." It wastes RT time, delays the RFFS response, gets missed by other pilots on the frequency, etc etc.

Perhaps it's a British thing - our innate tendency to understate. You have a problem - state it! No-one is going to take the pee out of you for it once you're down and in the bar. For us, such occurrences also form an essential part of our emergency training. Every incident has a new aspect to it which we discuss at length and learn from. Worried about form-filling? Well, yeah, we fill in an MOR, but if it's a fairly straightforward, safely concluded emergency, not a great deal ensues officially for the pilot.

Nothing, NOTHING gets ATC attention like PAN or MAYDAY, trust me! You can be sure that everything possible will be in place for you asap should you declare so. Always remember, we are here for you. We're on the same side after all, yes?
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 18:31
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Will the RT police be round to have a word?
Yus.

"Allo, Allo, Allo - what we have got here then? That should be FINAL, me lad. No S on the end. You're bluddy nicked mate".
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 18:52
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Foxy Loxy

Maybe its me alone but I do have a big problem calling a mayday Too dramatic , maybe its a boy thing? Cant we just change it to XYZ is declaring an Emergency. That has a more dignified less big movie drama to it

Pace
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 19:29
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The point has already been made but it bears repetition. The RT callsign "Radio" is not a controller or even a FISO. I would hope that the training involved to gain either licence would ensure that Maydays would be properly dealt with. Air ground operators may not have either the experience or the training to respond adequately but I would also hope that the Radio Station's licensee would have a duty of care to provide training to the operators on what the implications are.
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 19:41
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USe of the term "Traffic" says it all - it is highly likely that no one was manning the ground station and the reply was from someone airborne.

Pace.

Couldn't disagree more with you (or anyone else who thinks the terminology should be changed).
Mayday or Pan get's everyone's attention, anything else is ambiguous and potentially dangerous because there will be a delay in responding and rendering assistance.

There is absolutely no shame whatsoever in declaring a PAN or a MAYDAY, you shout and we'll make sure that everyone on the ground is ready for you, if you discover after landing (or even in the air) that you no longer have a problem, it doesn't matter, we'd rather everyone was there to meet you then than minutes afterwards.
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 19:54
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Agree re the pettiness over the 'label'.

At an airport near me (yes, known to foxy), I have often heard a huffy sounding xxx RADAR! when someone has addressed them as 'xxx approach'.

Since the radar is rather prone to falling over, when they are indeed known as Approach, it seems too picky, even for a pedant like me.
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 20:01
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I had to declare a pan at Brussels International last year, due to a potential unsafe gear.

They were absolutely brilliant in handling us. The gear held and my GF got a cup of coffee from the customs officers once parked at the GA terminal!

Surely the "controller" has long been sacked at XXX. This must be the exception that confirms the rule, just think of the blind pilot last week.

ATC may sometimes be a pain in the neck to VFR flights but dear God are they good to have when you need them!
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 20:03
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Well, the pilot of a Robinson R-22 who suffered an engine governor failure in the dark north tonight put out a nice precise PAN PAN call and got the attention of the Radar controller. Hope he made it back to the airfield safely.
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Old 12th Nov 2008, 20:09
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niknak said:
Couldn't disagree more with you (or anyone else who thinks the terminology should be changed).
Mayday or Pan get's everyone's attention, anything else is ambiguous and potentially dangerous because there will be a delay in responding and rendering assistance.
Absolutely on the nail. Just yesterday, I had a PAN call made, the problem was an oil leak. It streamed all the way up and over the canopy - the pilot could see pretty much bggr all forward.

The biggie that I tend consider for emergencies is pilot distraction. That's why I often call a "local standby" for seemingly minor issues declared on RT. Not all pilots are as accomplished or confident as some. Again, the paperwork is mainly an ATC concern.

frostbite said:
At an airport near me (yes, known to foxy), I have often heard a huffy sounding xxx RADAR! when someone has addressed them as 'xxx approach'.

Since the radar is rather prone to falling over, when they are indeed known as Approach, it seems too picky, even for a pedant like me.
That justifies a thread of its own....
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