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United UA57 cleared for wrong runway - sweepover to lined up Easyjet

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United UA57 cleared for wrong runway - sweepover to lined up Easyjet

Old 24th Jul 2021, 10:42
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Globally Challenged

I imagine most of us who used CDG have had this experience (multiple times) but the real disgrace is that it is stil going on even after the French investigators - of a fatal ground collision with a UK registered aircraft some years ago - recommended that all ATC be conducted in English.
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Old 24th Jul 2021, 11:10
  #42 (permalink)  
 
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See text of the Safety Recommendation, with a link to the report, in post #38.
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Old 24th Jul 2021, 17:27
  #43 (permalink)  
 
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Let's stick to the facts, gentlemen: tthis is a quote from the document clause named: "OBSERVATIONS BY THE UNITED KINGDOM". Nothing to do with the French Investigators.
Moreover, how this is relevant to this incident? Who was speaking french: United or Easyjet? Yet, it has happened.
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Old 24th Jul 2021, 18:57
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SERA.14015 (b):

Unless otherwise prescribed by the competent authority for specific cases, the English language shall be used for communications between the ATS unit and aircraft, at aerodromes with more than 50000 international IFR movements per year. Member States, where at the date of entry into force of this Regulation, the English language is not the only language used for communications between the ATS unit and aircraft at such aerodromes, may decide not to apply the requirement to use the English language and inform the Commission accordingly. In that case, those Member States shall, by 31 December 2017 at the latest, conduct a study on the possibility to require the use of the English language for communications between the ATS unit and aircraft at those aerodromes for reasons of safety, so as to avoid incursions of aircraft on an occupied runway or other safety risks, while taking into account the applicable provisions of Union and national law on the use of languages. They shall make that study public and communicate its conclusions to the Agency and the Commission.
Safety first, people. Clearly by far the best way to achieve this is by ATC speaking two different languages to aircraft on the same frequency. Well done.
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Old 24th Jul 2021, 21:00
  #45 (permalink)  
 
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AIP France, current version 15 JUL 2021
1.1.7 RADIOTELEPHONY PROCEDURES AND PHRASEOLOGY
......
Important note 1 : In France, it is possible to use the French language in radiotelephony on all aerodromes, including airports with more than 50 000 international IFR movements per year.
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Old 24th Jul 2021, 21:14
  #46 (permalink)  
 
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Dmitri

"Let's stick to the facts, gentlemen: this is a quote from the document clause named: "OBSERVATIONS BY THE UNITED KINGDOM". Nothing to do with the French Investigators."

No, it isn't.

It's a quote from the list of the BEA's Safety Recommendations. Nothing whatsoever to do with the UK's observations.
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Old 24th Jul 2021, 21:32
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Dmitri

And what is this supposed to tell us, apart from the complete disregard for safety in French airspace?
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Old 24th Jul 2021, 23:26
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That pride goeth before a fall? Or more likely, a collision?
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Old 25th Jul 2021, 09:22
  #49 (permalink)  
 
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This is a question for any Controllers here, especially non-USA ones. Would you have heard « Understand cleared to land 09 Right, side step for 9 Right United 57 » as a request for confirmation?

Although there's no real discussion of the French / English issue in the BEA report just published (and in so far as there is discussion, it's to say that this was not a pure language issue), I'm interested in whether the Controller did not respond to this message at all becasue she heard it as a read-back, rather than a question. What's clear from BEA is that she was a tad overworked, in an ill-prepared Tower and team, and that she made a choice, at a busy moment, to shift seats and equipment. BEA largely attributes her lack of response to United to those factors, and a little to United's non-standard phraseology. But it's at least possible thet she simply did not understand the English she heard. Hence my question above to Controllers: What would you have thought United was saying (whether or not you approve of what he said)?
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Old 25th Jul 2021, 11:57
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I think you'll be shocked at the ATC setup and actions on that morning when the English version of the report comes out: disorganization in the room, as well as slips of the tongue!

BTW, surely well done to the EasyJet; but according to BEA United had already initiated a go round (having a good visual on the encroaching EasyJet) just before EasyJet PC chimed in. EsyJet stopped with half the a/c on the runway, still at right angles to it. United got as low as 80 feet when 250 meters out from the threshold (BEA uses both units.....), and passed over Easyjet at about 300 feet.
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Old 25th Jul 2021, 12:47
  #51 (permalink)  
 
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I am a UK licenced ATCO (currently "resting") and a fluent French speaker, having lived there for a number of years. I have met several French ATCO's and discussed the job and language use with them. I should stress that I have never worked in ATC in France (despite putting a good bit of effort into that aim) nor have I had the challenge of speaking my second language operationally, except on 2 occasions in emergencies.

It is worth remembering that foreign ATCO's/pilots speaking English (2nd language) have many issues to deal with. They may well be interacting with other non-native speakers from other nationalities who will all have accents - more or less heavy and more or less inteligible - before one even begins to look at cultural issues about how language itself is used. For example, my French ATCO colleagues tell me that Spanish pilots speaking English are very difficult for them to understand. An American native English accent is very different from an Australian one isn't it? So folk who point out the benefits of increased situational awareness if "tout le monde" is speaking English may ignore the possibility of a misunderstanding arising when two French people are speaking their non-native language. It should be fine at major hubs when and when standard phraseology is applicable but what about when plain speech is required for non-standard situations? In the UK level 4 ICAO English is mandated for non-natives, just as it is on the continent. I have seen foreign potential ATCO's looking for UK work who fulfilled this requirement - and had fine standard phraseology - but who would have no clue (or struggle) when talking to the fire service or ops or the bird guy, especially when the pressure was on. It all depends on the unit but level 4 worries me..... In France the standard of so-called level 4 is highly variable. No problems at the big international places but at the smaller hubs where it is less often used, one can see a much lower standard. Of ALL the guys I have met (some major airports) none had English as good as my French because it is not what might be termed "street English". In other words the kind of flexibility you get from "living the language", rather than just technical use.
To my way of thinking, this incident has some cultural issues. SIdestep being common in the US right? How much training did this ATCO have in the background to cultural expectations from the nationalities flying in there? Did she have any notion that her slip of the tongue had (probably) instinctive implications for American flyers? Could she expect to have had some training in their procedures, their phraseology etc? Would that be appropriate? Surely, their English training MUST encompass some of these points?
On a technical ATC level, I am surprised that in so many of the incidents I have looked at, the ATCO's do not update the situational awareness of the pilots, preferring to content themselves with "just" standard phraseology. There was a classic some years ago at CDG held up as a perfect example of why English only should be mandated. The lander on the outside rwy was told to hold short of the inner - which they missed - and then a takeoff clearance was given in French for a departure on that inside rwy. The departure had to abort as the arrival infringed the runway. In my view - while it is axiomatic to say that if one common language was in use it MIGHT have helped - the problem could have been avoided if the arriving crew had been given situational awareness in full; "Hold short runwy 09L -DEPARTING TRAFFIC". (Or some such.) This incident was therefore not an example of "language" issues per se but weak, non-defensive controlling. Just 2 extra words.......

PS: Gary Brown: "Understand cleared to land..." Depends on the intonation, right? A heavy upwards inflection implies a question to be confirmed. At my last place there was one pilot from the UK who regularly used "understand" as confirmation in his readback. As a native English speaker I can instinctively understand the difference.
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Old 25th Jul 2021, 13:54
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Just a thought. Irrespective of language or culture it is not common practice for ATC (and this includes the USA) to simply issue a landing clearance for another runway than for the one you are on approach for without any forewarning of any kind. Yes I know United queried it (in their own way) but should they not have seen more of a red flag simply by the manner the "amended" clearance was delivered? At the very least ATC would have transmitted "runway change to 9R, cleared to land 9R".But they would normally ask if you are able.

Last edited by Avman; 25th Jul 2021 at 15:39.
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Old 25th Jul 2021, 17:44
  #53 (permalink)  
 
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At large US hubs with multiple parallel runways, it's not at all uncommon.
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Old 26th Jul 2021, 08:21
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From the looks of it, they side-stepped pretty close in, which would not necessarily be a big deal for a US crew for the reasons given above. I wonder had this been a non-US crew and less used to side stepping pretty late in the day, they may well have stuck with 09L.
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Old 26th Jul 2021, 08:27
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@ Lissart.

Thanks for that very thoughtful set of language thoughts. I suspect a well-attuned native English speaker can even detect an intention to query rather than to confirm even from a flat, laconic mid-western US pilot accent!

IMHO, the controller was so distracted that she really didn't "hear" the read-back / query at all. If she had, then the twice repeated "Nine Right" should surely have alerted her that something wasn't right. The BEA report focuses on her initial slip of the tongue - 9R instead of 9L - but she then missed that slip being repeated by the United.
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Old 26th Jul 2021, 10:45
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Avman

The BEA report (still only available in French) deals with that point quite specifically. The United crew stated that they were stable for 9L, had clear visual to both 9L and 9R, were well-used to late sidesteps, and had no real concerns when they got the (erroneous) instruction. Worth restating that United then saw the Easyjet incursion onto 9R and initiated a go-round a couple of seconds before anyone else intervened. However, BEA note that no sidestep option had been briefed for landing, and they query whether United could truly be described as stable for the eventual 9R landing attempt.
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Old 26th Jul 2021, 15:25
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The swingover was initiated a bit low in my opinion and while the runways are not far apart the threshold of 09R is a lot closer. It demonstrates a confident pilot (in this case captain) after a long night flight, but a sink rate of 1200 feet at low level is not ideal. I think it was a marginal decision even with the longer runway. I have been offered a swingover onto this runway and politely declined, not least because I could not see the runway in low cloud with sun in my eyes. I wonder how common swingovers are on this runway.
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Old 26th Jul 2021, 17:10
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Question - having been (erroneously) give a side step to 9R and not having a reply to his "query", United's choice I guess was to a) continue to land on 9L even though he was (erroneously) no longer cleared to do so, or b) to decline the sidestep and go round?
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Old 27th Jul 2021, 09:51
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Although I had decided long ago that I would restrict myself to comment on this UK national sport where the facts are disregarded ( either by ignorance or willingly) in favor of the ever popular French bashing , but here we go again ,
The BEA report and the Incident investigation ( in French) are giving the following facts .

1- Due to a technical issue, on the TWR the normal Control position for Runways 09 could not be opened. ( First day or reopening of the North TWR after being closed 2 weeks )
2-The controller had to work for another control position where she did not have visual on the 09 thresholds.
3- The standard configuration that morning was 09L for landings and 09R for take off.
4- She was alone on the position , despite being extremely busy , the Coordinator position supposed to relieve the workload, was not manned that morning .
4- After a missed APP on 09L due to a technical issue an AF requested to land on 09R ( much longer than 09L) which she could not refuse.
5- UA was cleared by APP for ILS 09L and was stabilized on 09L when transferred to tower the controller mistakenly ( lapsus) said clear to land 09 R while she later said she meant 09L.
6- UA replied :" Understand cleared to land 09 Right, side step for 9 Right United 57 »
7-The controller did not acknowledge the transmission but said she did not pick up the 09R reply, and did not associate the word "understand" with a request for confirmation .
8- The side step was performed at 900ft, 2,2 NM out with 09R has a much earlier positioned Runway threshold.

Now the remarks :
The FAA ahs a clear procedure for performing sidesteps, France ( and I suspect EASA) does not have something similar and it is not a common procedure , unlike in the US. .
The term " understand" is used in FAA phraseology while in rest of the world we use the term " Confirm " ( as is ICAO standard phraseology)
Not having readback confirmation from ATC on Final is something usual in the US, but not in Europe.

My own remarks :
If the UA was using the term "understand" to ask a question , the fact of not receiving an answer should not be considered as an approval to continue.
A simple " confirm 09R?" from UA would have eliminated the issue.
If there is something to learn from this incident is to use standard phraseology , especially when flying outside your home country,

Now to the dual language issue that always comes up when an incident is happening in CDG , This one was all in English , so not a factor here. For those here that want to perpetuate this crusade , you should start to fly a bit outside your home country . The vast majority of the world's airspace is controlled bi-lingual , outside of a few tiny Caribbean islands, the whole airspace south of Rio Grande is in Spanish or Portuguese, Canada up North is even partially bi-lingual
3/4 of Africa are bi-lingual, so is Russia and China. Most European countries are too, France of Course Spain , Portugal, etc.. but also Germany for instance on all their airports , Yes you can hear German on Frankfurt Tower for the VFR mid fields crossings or departures below the ILS... Almost all Military ATC is done in National language and operating from dual civil-military's airports
I think aiming at world peace has more chances of success that eliminating national languages from ATC .
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Old 27th Jul 2021, 10:41
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The one thing I'd add from the BEA report is that just before the incident "someone" had managed to fire up her normal position - the one with a view westwards to the thresholds - and she said that she intended to move positions as soon as workload allowed. But "She added that she was preoccupied by the anticipation of changing positions" at time of the incident.

[ [i]Elle ajoute qu’elle était préoccupée par l’anticipation du changement de position. p.6 of BEA]

Last edited by Gary Brown; 27th Jul 2021 at 10:43. Reason: Typo
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