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Air controller during emergency landing: 'I know that's BS'

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Air controller during emergency landing: 'I know that's BS'

Old 10th Apr 2012, 00:55
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Big Pistons,

Here are a couple of extracts from the CAP 413 CAA Radio Telephony Manual.

1.4.2 Pilots are urged – in their own interests – to request assistance from the emergency service as soon as there is any doubt about the safe conduct of their flight. Even then, the provision of assistance may be delayed if a pilot does not pass clear details of his difficulties and requirements, using the international standard RTF prefix ‘MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY' or ‘PAN PAN, PAN PAN, PAN PAN' as appropriate. For example, a vague request from a pilot for ‘confirmation of position' is unlikely to be accorded as much priority as would be given to a statement that he is lost. If, subsequent to the transmission of a ‘MAYDAY' or ‘PAN', a pilot considers the problem not to be as serious as first thought and priority attention is no longer required, the emergency condition may be cancelled at the pilot's discretion. It is invariably preferable for pilots believing themselves to be facing emergency situations to declare them as early as possible and then cancel later if they decide the situation allows.

1.4.3 If a pilot is already in communication with a civil or military ATSU, before the emergency arises, assistance should be requested from the controller on the frequency in use. In this case, any SSR code setting previously assigned by ATC (other than the Conspicuity Code 7000) should be retained until instructions are received to change the code setting.

1.4.4 If, however, the pilot is not in direct communication with an ATSU and the aircraft is equipped with an SSR transponder it should be switched, preferably before the emergency call is made, to Emergency Code 7700, with Mode C if available. If the transponding aircraft is high enough to be within secondary radar cover, the selection of the Emergency 7700 Code will alert the Emergency Controller to the presence of an incident by means of an audio and visual warning. The received SSR plot will show the precise location of the aircraft on the controller's radar display, and will then obviate the need for the emergency controller to carry out the more time-consuming manual aircraft position plotting procedure. Information on SSR operating procedures, including Special Purpose Codes 7700 (Emergency), 7600 (Radio Failure) and 7500 (Hijack or Other Act of Violence) are detailed in the ENR Section of the UK AIP.

1.4.6 Following the initial distress or urgency message, it is permissible for pilots and controllers to use 'MAYDAY' and 'PAN' as a callsign prefix at their discretion, where it is judged that this would have a beneficial effect on the outcome.


Sorry for the long post. Hope it helps though. I agree "three and a half thousand" is very non standard. They should have paid closer attention to the manual.

Jazzy
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Old 10th Apr 2012, 07:31
  #102 (permalink)  
 
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How can you expect the controller to respond to the aircraft when he doesn't even know which aircraft made the distress call? The reason he didn't understand the call was probably because it was too rushed and non-standard. Even the people that had the time to listen over and over to the tapes to make the transcript for the video couldn't get it right!!!

This more than likely led the controller to believe it was a hoax. When the aircraft made its subsequent calls prefixed with MAYDAY the controller (although still suspicious) sent following traffic around and responded to the emergency.

Had the original call been standard and readable, allowing the controller to recognize the distress aircraft, the controller would have had no choice but to respond even if the thought it was a hoax.


here is another example where non-standard phraseology in the states caused confusion
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Old 10th Apr 2012, 07:41
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Back in the sixties,I thought the RAF pretty keen on correct phraseology BUT seem to recollect being taught: "Pan, pan, pan!"
I was into my civil career before having "Panpan" pointed out.
But then, I did misunderstand a few things in the Mob.
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Old 10th Apr 2012, 07:59
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Basil,

even in the 1970's Pan Pan Pan was the correct phraseology for the civilian RT licence. I still have my course notes from the time.

I don't know when it was changed to PanPan but in the marine environment PanPan was used well before it became aviation procedure.


coldair
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Old 10th Apr 2012, 08:08
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Thanks, coldair,
Glad to be reassured it isn't the dementia - yet.
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Old 14th Apr 2012, 21:52
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I've also long wondered where the US preference for the use of 'emergency' comes from rather than the use of ICAO standard MAYDAY or PAN PAN, phraseology. Reference to the US FAA Airmans Information Manual, Pilot/Controller Glossary explains this. Included is the glossary is the word in bold italics, "EMERGENCY− A distress or an urgency condition'',

In document preface we find-

PURPOSE

a. This Glossary was compiled to promote a common understanding of the terms used in the Air Traffic Control system. It includes those terms which are intended for pilot/controller communications. Those terms most frequently used in pilot/controller communications are printed in bold italics. The definitions are primarily defined in an operational sense applicable to both users and operators of the National Airspace System. Use of the Glossary will preclude any misunderstandings concerning the system’s design, function, and purpose.

b. Because of the international nature of flying, terms used in the Lexicon, published by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), are included when they differ from FAA definitions. These terms are followed by “[ICAO].” For the reader’s convenience, there are also cross references to related terms in other parts of the Glossary and to other documents, such as the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) and the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).


under MAYDAY-

MAYDAY− The international radiotelephony distress signal. When repeated three times, it indicates imminent and grave danger and that immediate assistance is requested.


So the FAA AIM includes the term 'emergency' for use in indicating a distress or urgency situation. So where I agree MAYDAY/PAN PAN is a much better way of communicating your situation, the FAA chooses to differ with ICAO and use Emergency over the ICAO standard. However, I can't help but think 'Emergency' should be repeated three times to preface the distress/urgency. call.

So, where we (non-US types) consider their use of the term 'emergency' non-standard, it is approved phrasology in the US system.

Last edited by no sig; 14th Apr 2012 at 22:03.
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Old 15th Apr 2012, 00:33
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It's frustrating when partial callsigns are used. Last trip ATC center use only our flight number on three different occasions - 123, turn right heading 180. "Is that for XX 123??"

Full call signs prevents additional confusion or the necessity to repeat radio calls.
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Old 15th Apr 2012, 10:45
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No sig

.....So, where we (non-US types) consider their use of the term 'emergency' non-standard, it is approved phrasology in the US system.
It should also be noted that a controller can initiate an emergency response on their own authority with no "Mayday" or "Emergency" call being made whether the aircraft is in flight or on the ground. Plain-language "Smoke in the cockpit" would be enough to warrant that.
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 04:00
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Thumbs down Here we go again ...

here is another example where non-standard phraseology in the states caused confusion
I have worked for both US and UK operators and I have been involved in two situations where even the standard UK R/T phraseology was causing unnecessary confusion (in both circumstances with an Englishman as my f/o). We both were unclear about "rwy XX is CAT II only" advisory from the Tower or Director. It was so unnecessarily strangely worded that even after three queries the issue was not clarified.

While proper R/T is certainly nice, I think that this non-standard R/T accusation from Europe is very overblown; in addition to the ever returning "dual language ATC environment [shock, horror]" threads that are mainly directed at France.

Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. From my personal observation, most pilots in the US (with sad exceptions) are far better stick pilots than their European colleagues who heavily rely on AP use.

On a personal note, I am getting tired of this mainly "British" sport to bash foreign pilots, R/T, ATC, countries etc., whether across the channel or across the Atlantic. Can't we just all get along?
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 11:32
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What's far more amusing Squawk, is all the CAP quoting from the Brits. It’s a CAA publication, so why on earth would you think it’s contents would be known or even valid to US/FAA pilots. It's just as arrogant as the Southern Hemisphere Colonials, some of whom, don't seem to be able to comprehend that other countries can do things differently but just as effectively, safely and professionally.

“My God, what do you mean the rest of the world doesn’t repeat the callsign three times, as part of a PAN call!!”

Hat off to No Sig, who actually had the common sense and gumption to do a bit of homework and understands that there are differences between the two.
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 12:03
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UK, USA, Chinese? What difference should it make? ICAO lays down recommended standards phraseologies etc designed to reduce the possibility of this happening
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 15:57
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Seems like the crew did a top job to me.

Imagine you're on approach in poor weather, then you are finding yourself in a smoke filled environment during the most critical phase of flight. Whilst your brain is going "OH S***", and you are trying to fly an approach whilst at the same time donning masks, etc.., in diminishing visibility, the radio call he actually made is probably all the poor guy could get out at that moment.

Let's throw some of those commenting in here in that situation and see what happens then. At least they can die knowing they had perfect RT for the investigators to analyze.
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 20:04
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It does make a difference. If it were a US flight in a foreign country, thenICAO standard phraseology would be expected, and I would agree with you. However, it was not aninternational flight, it was domestic with an FAA Controller and FAA certifiedpilots, using FAA standard phraseology and procedures. As was pointed out, theterm emergency is considered standard and is listed in the Pilot/Controllerglossary. What the crew did was correct; their initial call declaring theemergency was in compliance with FAA phraseology.

It was not that the controller did not hear the emergency and emergencyconditions being stated, it was that the controller did not believe that it wasa real emergency. The controller failed to verify the situation and take theproper action. Stating that had the pilot said "Mayday" as opposed to "Emergency" the controller would have somehow come to a different conclusion as to the authenticity of the radio call, given the above facts regarding FAA phraseology, is nonsensical.
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 21:36
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Who was the controller supposed to "roll the trucks" for? United 12? A VDF and say again button are handy in these situations.

There is more to this incident than just 'dumb controller ignored the pilot'.
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 22:58
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Originally Posted by NE_Pilot
It was not that the controller did not hear the emergency and emergencyconditions being stated, it was that the controller did not believe that it wasa real emergency
I think it was more that he wasn't able to reconcile the transmission with any of his known traffic.

The little prefix indicating the airline was missing. The voice was (apparently) new, its timbre probably changed due to factors already mentioned. The audio quality probably wasn't that great, either.

If the full callsign had been used, I suggest the outcome, in regard to the timing of the trucks being "rolled" might have been quite different.

Down here, in non-America land, if I'd heard that transmission, and knew (or had reason to believe) it came from one of the a/c on my frequency, I wouldn't have needed an ICAO-formal distress call to get the fire service alerted, and I'd suggest no other controller, anywhere in the world, would, either. As soon as you become aware that someone has a problem, whether formally declared or not, you treat it the same way as if they had said the ''magic words".

The advantage of prefixing such a call with the appropriate words is that it will get our undivided attention immediately, instead of after the words "emergency,smoke in the cockpit", by which time the callsign had obviously been not heard correctly.

As 1Charlie said, a "say again" button on the ATC comms console would have been useful. (Replays the last transmission.)
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Old 16th Apr 2012, 23:10
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Who was the controller supposed to "roll the trucks" for? United 12? A VDF and say again button are handy in these situations.
The controller asked him to repeat. The pilot replied 5912 very clearly.
How many 5912's of any persuasion was he handling at the time ?
Controller then went on about United 12...didn't he hear the reply ?

Last edited by WanganuiLad; 16th Apr 2012 at 23:27.
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Old 17th Apr 2012, 08:09
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obviously not.
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Old 17th Apr 2012, 10:29
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Thumbs down

I guess big pistons forever is smokey? Or was it the bandit...

Being non British and non US, but having lived in both... They are the hardest sometimes to understand on the radio cause of their local accents...
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Old 17th Apr 2012, 10:37
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AND

Mayday mayday mayday has a bit of a cocktail party effect
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Old 17th Apr 2012, 22:58
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Originally Posted by crosswindaviator
I guess big pistons forever is smokey? Or was it the bandit...

Being non British and non US, but having lived in both... They are the hardest sometimes to understand on the radio cause of their local accents...
Since I fly a firebomber "Smokey" would be more appropriate for the work flying. For pleasure flying in my Nanchang CJ6A "Bandit" would fit nicely as I usually get to kick ass on tail chases.

As for the topic at hand the controller should have alerted CFR that there may have been an issue immediately and then actively worked to resolve the confusion. Instead he pretty much sat on his hands. With a potential cockpit/cabin fire seconds can mean the difference between a successful cabin evacuation or a smoking hulk full of dead people.

Since I am guessing the closest you are going to get to handling an airliner emergency is listening to the FA while seated in seat 34B you probably should not be insulting aviation professionals....
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