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LOT 737 incident, June 2007: crew's poor English blamed

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LOT 737 incident, June 2007: crew's poor English blamed

Old 14th Jun 2008, 10:11
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Unhappy

I don't know exactly, but he passed the LOT internal theory test with 96%,
and LOT internal English language test with 90%.

At the same time he could (should) run the official ICAO test for pilots
in language proficiency. It was organized by ULC (Polish CAA), and he passes
on Level 5, so he will have to refresh the test in 6 years.

Polish CAA (ULC) is fully certified by EASA according to JAR and many times successfully audited.

On the side note: no pilot entering a job by LOT will be accepted without
passing the ICAO Level 4 test. Having a big competition of applicants
they prefer those who passed Level 5.

For me it is tragic, how, based on an objective AAIB report, meant to improve
overall aviation safety, a bunch of xenophobic, stupid journalists picks up
a single line from the text and start bushing LOT and whole Polish aviation
all around the world.

They maybe had problems to follow the standby instruments, but in my opinion NEVER
had problems with understanding the ATC.

And by the way: what kind of standard ICAO communication lines is:
"What do you think is your heading ??"
AFAIK it should be "XXX give your altitude and heading"
(please any ATC expert correct me.)
You can use "What do you think you are doing??" in the pub when somebody spills a beer,
but not as the ATC controller.

The unfair and stupid text from The Telegraph is circulating around all magazines
and web pages, full of crap like "Seconds from collision", "Near Disaster avoided".

Even such renown titles like The Times and Der Spiegel repeat this nonsense,
without even trying to go to the source and find out the truth.

It makes me really sick.

Last edited by Ptkay; 14th Jun 2008 at 11:27.
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Old 16th Jun 2008, 09:05
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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Ptkay,

I have listened to the tapes and watched the Radar replays - you obviously have not otherwise you would not state
but in my opinion NEVER had problems with understanding the ATC.
The communications were very confused throughout. You also state/ask
And by the way: what kind of standard ICAO communication lines is:
"What do you think is your heading ??"
AFAIK it should be "XXX give your altitude and heading"
Unfortunately there is only a finite amount of phraseology which is there to cover most circumstances - however it is not exhaustive.

Reverting to plain English is the most sensible thing to do, especially in an emergency situation, instead of trying to shoe horn an unusual situation into standard phraseology that has not been designed to cover it!

If there is ever a circumstance that is not covered by ICAO phraseology, or the crew/ATC just do not seem to understand; then talking plain, non technical English is an extremely wise idea.

The Crew were under a lot of pressure, but - and this may come as news to you - the ATCO was also under pressure and a little stressed - he may not have used the best phrasing when trying to use plain English, but at least he tried... if you listen to the R/T (merely reading a transcript does not give you any idea of how it actually was) then you will know that understanding ATC and passing a coherent message when asked was very much a problem the crew had.

The newspapers may well have sensationalised some aspects of this incident but the fact is, for whatever reason, the crew did not communicate effectively - this could be down to a number of factors, stress and confusion are probably the main ones.

It's all very well sitting a test in benign conditions - it's a lot different trying to reach the required level when you have a lot of other things going on - it is perfectly understandable that a non native English speakng person will start to stumble over a foreign language.

Although I totally disagree with you regarding the fact you believe there was no communication problem (the AAIB is not xenophobic, it is a very well respected organisation), and also the fact that you think everything can be communicated using standard ICAO phraseology, I will say that there were certain things that the ATCO said tha could have been phrased better or properly - for example using 'Three hundred' instead of 'three zero zero degrees' then talking about a heading.
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Old 16th Jun 2008, 13:07
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Originally Posted by anotherthing
I have listened to the tapes and watched the Radar replays - you obviously have not
Thank you for a clear and respectful comment from a professional.
That's what PPRuNe is for.

I never had any doubt that AAIB report is NOT xenophobic.
The problem was not the report itself, but "selective reading"
by some journalists jumping to predefined conclusions.

I fully agree with your comments on language capacities in test or under stress.
ICAO Level 4 is just a test result, and life is life...

With younger generation moving gradually in, growing up in almost entirely English speaking web virtual environments,
let's hope the problems will gradually disappear.
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Old 16th Jun 2008, 13:19
  #44 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by anotherthing
Unfortunately there is only a finite amount of phraseology which is there to cover most circumstances - however it is not exhaustive.
...nevertheless, using this standard, professional phraseology certainly contributes better to calm down the involved
in a stress situation instead of blunt and patronising "What do you think you are doing?"...

But this is of course tongue in chick.

On the bottom line: it was certainly the chain of errors on the crew side,
that initiated and allowed the situation to escalate,
but "poor English" was maybe not the least, but certainly not the most critical one...

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Old 17th Jun 2008, 20:30
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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He/she didn't say "What do you think you are doing?" though. Which would have been over brusque...

I understand the question to mean "don't tell me what heading you should be flying, or what you estimate to be your heading corrected for the system failure - tell me what the erroneous reading is". After all, knowing how much difference there was between the actual and their picture of the world would be useful information - if the answer had been actual +/- 180, that's almost a diagnosis of the problem in itself. When you are debugging something, what you need to know is *how* it breaks, not just that it's broken, and this goes for any problem-solving.

But then, I'm a native English speaker, and it does sound quite a lot like "What do you THINK you're DOING?"
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Old 17th Jun 2008, 23:12
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And by the way: what kind of standard ICAO communication lines is:
"What do you think is your heading ??"
AFAIK it should be "XXX give your altitude and heading"
(please any ATC expert correct me.)
Whilst the latter might be "correct", the former is the question the ATCO was asking

As a native English Speaker I might perceive some "sarcasm" in the first phrase. However, I doubt the LOT crew did. More importantly, it portrayed to the crew that the heading the crew thought they were flying, and the heading ATC seemed to see they were flying, were different Which showed we were getting to the nub of the problem... NB the second ATCO also picked up on this when he started the timed turns...

Just in case anyone is unaware (?), at jet type speeds, and flying headings on a liquid compass, it will require straight and level flight for 30+ seconds (?) before you could accurately reply to a request like the second one for an actual "heading".

NoD
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Old 18th Jun 2008, 10:11
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And what should we learn?
I am surprised that there is no mention of the dangers of fast aligns and manually entering PPOS.
Modern IRUs on short haul aircraft do not need realigning after every flight. They will happily go all day on a single align. So why do it when it can introduce errors?
Also why enter stand position? Why not use the general EGLL posn which is stored in the FMC database?

I think all short haul pilots should think about this. Why not check the residual groundspeed after engines off. If less than 10kts leave the IRUs alone.
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Old 18th Jun 2008, 10:22
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Because it is the standard operating procedure and common sense and airmanship will never again be allowed to interfere with them!!
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Old 18th Jun 2008, 12:31
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Originally Posted by Ptkay
...But this is of course tongue in chick.
Well that's made my day, and I can't even tell if it's a typo, non-native english, or intentional humour - excellent. [wishing tongue was in chick...]

As a further illustration of communication problems, further up this thread we have:

Originally Posted by anotherthing
[...] disagree with you regarding the fact you believe there was no communication problem (the AAIB is not xenophobic, it is [...]
replying to ptKay who in fact stated that the AAIB was objective and called the journalists xenophobic:

Originally Posted by ptKay
based on an objective AAIB report, meant to improve
overall aviation safety, a bunch of xenophobic, stupid journalists

So, even with the luxury of time to read and respond in writing (and without RT interference, and the minor issues of flying with inoperative instruments or controlling an aircraft that is not following instructions etc.) we are still getting it wrong. On a thread about poor english !

[now, shall I bother to preview or not...]
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Old 18th Jun 2008, 14:58
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Well that's made my day, and I can't even tell if it's a typo, non-native english, or intentional humour - excellent.
Frequent:
...part of everything you mentioned above:
Of course, I am non-native English,
of course it was a typo, (which a spell check will not highlight for obvious reasons)
and of course, I left it there intentionally, after I noticed, what have I done,
to see the reaction of the fellow PPRuNers...



Congratulations, you were the first one to notice.
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Old 19th Jun 2008, 23:09
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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Spent an hour reading the report, the AAIB were erring on the side of diplomacy here. Lets face facts, there were numerous errors, and numerous times the crew could have picked up on these but failed to do so. Coupled with the fact their english was woefully substandard and you have what may have been something more serious.

As for their raw data skills this is an area we could all well be criticized in.

Trying to blame Mobile phones though was a bit rich.
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Old 22nd Jun 2008, 07:36
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i wonder--

how it might have worked if there had been a native Polish speaking ATC that could have been called over to that desk?

not really an absurd possibility--

for various gov's, airlines, etc to arrange that at least at the major airports, and at the busiest times, to have a few ATC floaters to step in for the major languages that use the airports.
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Old 22nd Jun 2008, 08:20
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chinese, russian, american, english, german, french, koren, japanese, swedish, polish, indian, dutch, etc....
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Old 22nd Jun 2008, 08:44
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And then there's English.

Strine, Yank, Yaapie, Indian, West Indian and don't let's go near the various British English variations.

(Sorry for the overlap zkdli )
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