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-   -   Standard of RT in USA (https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/518923-standard-rt-usa.html)

AdamFrisch 12th Jul 2013 08:24

The jargon here in the US is something that sometimes annoys me and lacks discipline, but I do have to say that some of the Americanisms are actually better. One very good example are altitudes above 4 digits: "Thirteen thousand five hundred feet" is much more legible and understandable than "One three thousand five hundred". The human mind doesn't compute additive instructions as well as compound ones.

Very often you hear crews ask for clarification on either new freq or altimeter settings and what alway settles it is when the controller departs ICAO and speaks "plain english". Example:

"Contact SoCal on one two three point seven five".
"What was that frequency again?"
"Twenty three seventy five".

Additive vs compound again. The latter is much clearer to compute in all scenarios. Settles it right away and I've never heard anyone ask for them to repeat such an instruction - ever. If safety and brevity is the objective, then the instruction that is the most understandable is the correct one, ICAO or not.

bamboo30 12th Jul 2013 08:27

Fly internationally and long haul my whole life, no problems understanding american, chinese, japanese atc. However do realized one pattern, native english pilots have some prolems understanding asian atc even after number of years operating in he region.

Contacttower 12th Jul 2013 08:39


Very often you hear crews ask for clarification on either new freq or altimeter settings and what alway settles it is when the controller departs ICAO and speaks "plain english". Example:

"Contact SoCal on one two three point two seven five".
"What was that frequency again?"
"Twenty three seventy five".
I completely agree with that. The way a lot of people's mind's work they need the number said in plain English in order to visualise it and therefore remember it. If one is only paying half attention to the radio one will often only hear unintelligible numbers if single digits are used whereas a number said "twenty three" for example can be heard and remember with only very limited mental effort.

That is a point on which the rest of the world could perhaps learn something from the US. In general the Americans can be relied on to find the easiest ways to do things...

However I still think they could improve their RT training for the pilots even if for the most part the controllers themselves are pretty good.

Mimpe 12th Jul 2013 08:44

Conversely Class C and D Control in Australia is very " ICAO" and I/ve never in any single nteraction had any doubt whatsoever what the instruction was. The traffic intensity is is much less of course, and I suspect International flights into the USA just adopt the local lingo with USA destinations - this is easy to do if you're are a native English speaker, but its a definite safety issue for non native english linguists.

Emergency requests are often best best made in plain speech.

casablanca 12th Jul 2013 08:48

As an American I do not feel that the intent of the post was to argue if they are the best or not. I feel it was more constructive criticism and he/she was right. There are many areas we could improve to make it safer and more clear for the many different nationalities who operate into our airspace. I would also recommend various countries to not communicate in their native language at large international airports, as again it takes many people out of the loop.
Ultimately, if we can be more standardized around the world it can only improve safety......but probably won't happen

AviatorDave 12th Jul 2013 09:05

Radio
 
AdamFrisch wrote:
"Additive vs compound again. The latter is much clearer to compute in all scenarios. Settles it right away and I've never heard anyone ask for them to repeat such an instruction - ever. If safety is the objective, then the instruction that is the most understandable is the correct one, ICAO or not."

Well, it depends on what you are used to. A frequency given to me as "twentythreeseventyfive" or compounded altimeter settings and transponder codes would make things more cumbersome for me in a high-speed, busy communication environment. I grew up with the European way of radio communication and my brain needs to "translate" the compounded information into the familiar format.

While it's not overly difficult, it adds more load, as small as that load may be.
And more load is never a good thing.

What works best for you doesn't have to cut it for everybody else. Everybody will have to adapt in some way, depending on where you fly. That should be both pilots and ATC.

Bernoulli 12th Jul 2013 10:00

Con-Pilot said 'We are doing more to change than anybody else is'. Errr, no you're not. Those born with their native tongue not English have to adapt far more than any English speaking American.

The machine gun delivery used by some American controllers is counterproductive when employed to direct 'foreign' aircraft. I fly for a British airline and frequently have to ask the US controllers to 'say again, slowly' thus defeating the initial objective of haste. It's a bit like listening to some of the VOLMET reports that are delivered so fast in heavily accented english that you've got to listen right through three times before you can understand it. 'More haste less speed' as my old granny used to say.

beardy 12th Jul 2013 10:10

I find ATC in the USA to be very professional, succinct and accurate. I understand them and I am aware of their notified differences from ICAO. I am in awe of their ability to speak an entirely different form of RT phraseology from most (not all) American pilots and not lose their cool. It amazing that two ends of the conversation can be talking different languages and yet understand each other!

flydive1 12th Jul 2013 10:16


Originally Posted by Yankee Whisky (Post 7936190)
"Charly Golf Golf Delta Uniform" I only used it in the initial contact with local
ATC and later on this became "Delta Uniform" in further x'missions with the same terminal operator. Professionals in the Air Force, where I spent some time also developed a shorthand "slang" ,which we all understood.

Yes, but sometimes they catch you out when they call you "Cee Gee Gee Dee You"

awblain 12th Jul 2013 10:25

Some slang is especially not good.
 
The most egregious case of non-standard terms I've heard was a reported call from a United Express flight into an unmanned airfield in inclement weather in Colorado.

While intending to confirm that he was next for arrival with the statement "I'm on deck", this understandably confused the private aircraft waiting to depart, who interpreted it as "I have cleared the active runway".

beardy 12th Jul 2013 10:42

1Charlie:
I too don't like the UK "descend on the glide" however it is a notified difference from ICAO and is there to try and prevent pilots from descending below their cleared altitude before becoming established on the localiser. Apparently this has happened, the aircraft was not in the safe surveyed area.
I know, cleared ILS means establish on the localiser before descending on the glidepath, but not everyone knows that (they should) and even some of those who do know it do not always abide by it. The UK phraseology is just there to try and help flight safety.

Sprinkles 12th Jul 2013 10:47

They've been saying "cleared for the ILS" in Gatwick for months! :hmm:

Leftofcentre2009 12th Jul 2013 10:54

Decimal or Point?
 
Why do the US ATC use the word "point" as opposed to "decimal" when speaking frequencies?

I'm genuinely interested to know.

123.45

One Two Three Point Four Five
One Two Three Decimal Four Five

awqward 12th Jul 2013 11:19

Good question about point vs decimal....just it should be the other way round! Point is two syllables shorter....is what is used in normal speech and I can't see it being confused with any numbers....so why Decimal?

Schnowzer 12th Jul 2013 11:36

Yeah but think how much shorter R/T would be if we all just used Americanisms. Just look at what they did to doughnut; donut! 5 letters saved and 2000 calories added!

My vote is for good R/T but I have no problems with plain English or Umerican, personally my biggest problem is getting my 2s and 3s understood on the sub-continent!

172_driver 12th Jul 2013 11:36

I think Casablanca is the best :ok:

Lonewolf_50 12th Jul 2013 11:49


As long as the USA is part of ICAO, they should ADHERE to the STANDARD ICAO Phraseology or ask for OFFICIAL ICAO published amendments. Don't like it Yanks? Then get the hell out of ICAO.
I suggest you stay the hell out of America if you don't like talking on the radios here. Enjoy your travels in the rest of the world. Or, you might take a lesson from beardy.


I find ATC in the USA to be very professional, succinct and accurate. I understand them and I am aware of their notified differences from ICAO. I am in awe of their ability to speak an entirely different form of RT phraseology from most (not all) American pilots and not lose their cool. It amazing that two ends of the conversation can be talking different languages and yet understand each other!
The above considered, my experiences with ATC in the Laguardia/Newark/Kennedy madhouse were, to say the least, frequently challenging and I am a native speaker of American English. But rather than whinge about it, I did my very best to master and deal with it.
Why?
Well, I wasn't the only plane in the sky, and I know that the folks in ATC are busting their butts to do the best they can in very crowded airspace.

As to "say again:" it's in the phrase book for a reason. I used it when I need it, and I think we all have.

diginagain 12th Jul 2013 11:53

It was never going to be pretty...........

Contacttower 12th Jul 2013 12:00


While intending to confirm that he was next for arrival with the statement "I'm on deck", this understandably confused the private aircraft waiting to depart, who interpreted it as "I have cleared the active runway".
That is exactly one of the problems. If the US had more formalised RT training the we would not get these strange non standard phrases used. I seem to remember I while ago during some emergency a pilot asked ATC to "roll trucks"; I mean where does that sort of thing come from? :ugh:

bubbers44 12th Jul 2013 12:03

Contact ground 21 8 eliminates two syllables so that should be the standard because everybody knows what it means.

beardy 12th Jul 2013 12:10

When a controller wishes a pilot to descend with the ILS glidepath from a level which is above the published level that intercepts the ILS/MLS glidepath at the Final Approach Fix, the controller may use the following alternative form of phraseology.

When established on localiser runway 28, descend on the glidepath QNH 1011, BIGJET 347

Or

or when the aircraft is already established on the localiser:

Descend on the glidepath, QNH 1011, BIGJET 347


BUT:

When a controller has issued a descent instruction to the level that coincides with the published level that intercepts the ILS/MLS glidepath at the Final Approach Fix, or to a lower level when allocated in accordance with the Surveillance Minimum Altitude Chart, the controller may clear the pilot for the ILS/MLS approach

Simple really. The change came in to useage last year. Source CAP 413

pudoc 12th Jul 2013 12:24

Can only agree, the US has horrible RT. Canada's is just as bad. A little while back a Canadian ATC controller instructed pilots to go around using RT slang. Something like "sixteen twenty eight go around". The ATC missed the prefix of their callsign and the pilots didn't understand it was for them. They ended up landing.

I've heard the RT of both the SFO tower controller after the crash there, and the Heathrow tower controller after the BA crash a few years ago. The SFO controller sounded like he was trying trying to rap a song.

English is my natural language, I fly in busy airspace, yet I just about managed to make out what the SFO controller was saying. Those poor, poor foreign pilots have no hope. Even a United Airlines pilot in his witness report said the SFO tower controller was very rushed and it all sounded confusing (something along those lines).

The US' poor RT standards have lead onto a lot of incidents, it's only a matter of time before a crash.

Yes the UK isn't ICAO standard, but most differences are clearly mentioned in the CAP413. UK is not perfect. The US is horrendous (especially for ICAO level 4 English holders).

One last thing. What ever happend to mayday calls in the US? It's all "emergency" now.

aterpster 12th Jul 2013 12:51

pudoc:


One last thing. What ever happend to mayday calls in the US? It's all "emergency" now.
Relegated to the dust bin. Domestic ATC is often busy, and not exactly a "ship to shore" environment.

:)

WillowRun 6-3 12th Jul 2013 12:55

Data
 
Always ask clients for data before scoping out alternatives, let alone making any judgment calls (and rendering legal advice based thereon) about which one is most consistent with, or least risky under, applicable law and practice. That's the way I was taught (in Chicago English). And certainly no basing of legal advice on anecdotes (or message board word-volleys).

For background, the variables appear to be safety of the nation's ATC system overall, volume of air traffic (with data sub-sets for sched carriers, GA, corporate, other operators like broadcast/traffic, and military), and technological sophistication of the ATC system infrastructure. If these factors are going to be said to be pertinent to evaluation of RT usages and practices -- and particularly if the question is whether the US should undertake to entrain an ICAO process relative to typical and customary ATCO usages and practices -- let us see the data. Don't know if it exists, or if it does, where. But this is just (if you will) pre-flight.

The harder data question is what specific usages and practices are trouble-makers, so to speak. If it is typical to verbalize altitudes and frequencies by means of digital expression (American 446, climb to three zero thousand maintain Mach 1.5, vs climb to thirty thousand...), isn't the question whether one or the other is better? Or are both safe and efficacious? Or is one better in certain environments or under certain conditions? Give me the data; leave your false patriot act on the ramp, whether foreign or domestic.

Next question (and it bears only a shadow of relation to NextGen): what if major US ATC installations all were switched to the equivalent of a CVN flight deck in high sortie rate conditions, or a front-line F-15 and F-16 air base in "high and hot" conditions (with or without high sortie rate)? Better ATC usages and practices? Yes, of course not everyone would understand - that observation here misses the point. This mil standard, as I have at least tried to describe and/or articulate it, is quite standard in actual practice, is it not? And this thread was opened by a plaintive cry for standardization, or was it, standardisation, affirmative?

beardy 12th Jul 2013 13:06


Relegated to the dust bin. Domestic ATC is often busy, and not exactly a "ship to shore" environment.
What an extraordinary statement, coming from someone who claims:

19,000 hours total time, 14,500 with TWA. Retired late 1990. TERPs Committee and accident investigatgor for ALPA National and to be an Aviation Consultant in U.S. terminal instrument procedures and airspace matters.

Perhaps you could enlighten us all where and when the USA notified an ICAO difference that they would no longer use MAYDAY. Or was it a personal opinion?

In my count "MAYDAY" 3 times is 6 syllables, "this is an emergency" is 7 and I have an emergency is also 7 never mind "I am declaring an emergency."
In my opinion "MAYDAY" gets everybody's attention in a way that the word emergency doesn't.

Lonewolf_50 12th Jul 2013 13:29

I'm with beardy on this one. MAYDAY is good way to get people to start listening to what's about to be declared, isn't it?

The "Pan Pan" for a malfunction (invented before universal radar coverage) versus various discussions with controllers on issues short of an emergency, looks to have gone the way of the plains buffalo.

(See "minimum fuel" versus 'emergency fuel' reports for a similar issue ... )

mary meagher 12th Jul 2013 13:40

I say, help!
 
Or do I say mayday? Or would I like to declare an emergency?

Delighted to see my post 1642 still standing on page 83 of the SF thread has sparked off such an entertaining and freewheeling slagging match on this less inhibited thread. I mentioned that foreign pilots entering US airspace may have difficulty with ATC...and are reluctant to use those useful words "say again...." or "unable".

On the same page 83, Captain Emad was quite rude to me on this subject, but the Heavy Heavy followed shortly after with a truly wonderful post, number 1657...."I'm meek, I'm meek, I'm meek!"

So there you go. I have as PPL IR in the US, found ATC always helpful. Can you bear another anecdote?

In a rented 172, over water (notice how the engine runs rough over water) while enjoying enroute flight following, the controller asked kindly if I was aware I had gone off track. "Well," I replied, having just noticed that the right hand (gravity fed) tank gauge was reading empty while the left said full, "I may be having a problem with fuel...."

The ATC came back immediately with the eager response "Would you like to declare an emergncy?"

I demurred, undecided what to do. "Would you like me to vector you to the nearest airport?" (nice plain concise English, that.)

"That might be a good idea." We agreed Tallahasse would be nearest. The controller then said "Descend to 4,000 feet"......(I was at 11,500, being over water.....)

"Negative," I replied. "If I am going to become a glider I want to start as high as possible!" "Yes Ma'am" he replied. "We have cleared your entire route from 12,000 feet to the ground!" and so held my hand all the way to Tallahassee where I was met by the fire brigade, etc etc....and of course it was only a gauge that was US after all.

I love those guys! I could, if you wanted to hear it, tell a different story about a Birmingham controller.....

aterpster 12th Jul 2013 14:57

beardy:


What an extraordinary statement, coming from someone who claims:

19,000 hours total time, 14,500 with TWA. Retired late 1990. TERPs Committee and accident investigatgor for ALPA National and to be an Aviation Consultant in U.S. terminal instrument procedures and airspace matters.

Perhaps you could enlighten us all where and when the USA notified an ICAO difference that they would no longer use MAYDAY. Or was it a personal opinion?

In my count "MAYDAY" 3 times is 6 syllables, "this is an emergency" is 7 and I have an emergency is also 7 never mind "I am declaring an emergency."
In my opinion "MAYDAY" gets everybody's attention in a way that the word emergency doesn't.
I'm not defending it, I am telling it the way it is.

Having said that I declared only once in my career. It was on a taxiway at ORD where a DAL had taken the wrong turn and was headed for us, getting closer and closer with each vain attempt to turn around a 727-200 on a taxiway. The tower wouldn't intercede. So, when it got too close for comfort I got on ground control and stated, "Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! XXX is declaring an emergency on Taxiway YYY."

That got him stopped....finally. My F/E was ready to leave the cockpit because the next wing swipe would have taken out the cockpit.

You can read about it in Dave Gwinn's book.

beardy 12th Jul 2013 15:28

That's fine. As a current Captain I can tell you that it is not relegated to the dustbin, despite it no longer being just ship to shore communications.

Since it is just your opinion I can disagree with you that it is not "the way it is"

Yet!

Feathered 12th Jul 2013 16:04


Bubbers44 wrote: Contact ground 21 8 eliminates two syllables so that should be the standard because everybody knows what it means.
That can be replaced with Contact Ground Point 8. That sure isn't ICAO standard, but is official FAA phraseology for contacting ground. In the absence of a frequency before the "point," it is assumed to be 121.xxx

It's just a method to make every single syllable count on congested tower frequencies.

Examples: http://www.faa.gov/regulations_polic...pendix%201.pdf

Faire d'income 12th Jul 2013 16:27

North America is a rather large continent and like, say, Europe, standards will vary over such a large area.

The New York accent may sound pushy or even aggressive, but then so do certain Eastern European ones and even the occasional Scottish accent.

Some parts of the US use local slang but that is hardly as bad as, say, the Spanish or French languages frequently used, which blatantly ignores ICAO and seriously reduces the situational awareness of other crews. Irish ATC tends to be clear and cautious, but the local procedures are often eccentric and unpredictable and they almost never give EATs or accurate track miles when asked. Italy is a law unto itself but even there ATC often varies from North to South.

The Swiss and parts of Germany like to try to climb aircraft at minimum rates of climb at high altitude, obviously without understanding the physics but they don't get upset when one says one is 'unable'. The Swiss also like to keep aircraft high with tailwinds on approach but then they have the excuse of terrain issues.

All of these are easily managed, usually, but are undesirable.

The issue I would have with, in particular, some ATC centres in the States, is the apparently envelope-pushing clearances some of them issue. I won't name airfields but for example the various speed, track miles, frequent late approach/runway changes that can be given are a more serious problem. This problem grows with the weight of the type and the length of the flights.

All that said, I do enjoy flying in the States and my positive experiences far, far outweigh negative ones there.

I do take issue with the following though:


Also, with my experience in international flying, which is considerable, the US still has the best ATC system and controllers. With London ATC a very close second.
London is well ahead of the rest.

If only they could get their ATC people to run their airport security!

despegue 12th Jul 2013 16:37

Actually, France and Spain DO follow ICAO. Communications must be done in the language of the country the ground station is in. If the air station is unable to understand, then English is to be used.
Check your ICAO Annex 10 at home.

Note that I do not like their use of local language in major airports or UAC, but they DO follow the Annex 10.

Faire d'income 12th Jul 2013 16:48

You are correct.

I re-read this report: Ryanair B738 at Alicante and Valencia on May 14th 2010, fuel emergency | AeroInside


The CIAIAC thus annotated: "The fact that English was not used in the communications kept RYR 9ZC from understanding the more explicit and colloquial information that was being given to the other aircraft. That is why it would be convenient that, when aircraft converge at the same airport and whose crews speak different languages, English be used so that all have the same information and all benefit from the information provided to other crews."
The Spanish Authorities merely suggested English 'would be convenient' but didn't point to a regulation.

I stand corrected on the ICAO point.

GAPSTER 12th Jul 2013 17:01

You don't want our ATC people running security believe you me.....if by that you mean our management people.

I've enjoyed this debate.A bit less testosterone might aid some of the posters though.I've been lucky enough to spend a fair bit of time at close quarters with the US ATC system both as a ground level observer and as a jump seat rider.I've spent 30 years and counting as a London area ATCO and have nothing but admiration for the professionalism and competence of my colleagues stateside.My only criticism does chime with some of the earlier comments in that I have found the pace of r/t delivery on occasion very fast.I always make a conscious effort to slow mine down for non-native speakers and certain airlines in order to avoid confusion and/or having to transmit the whole thing over again.

As for the medal placings,not bothered...don't think they would be either.ATCOs of a feather....

WillowRun 6-3 12th Jul 2013 17:26

Data, cont'd
 
@Agaricus

Point of invoking CVN flight ops in high sortie rate conditions is not that it should be emulated as such. The point was instead to refer to an intensive flight ops environment (because - a number of defenders of the status quo of US ATC have cited its high traffic characteristic) where (presumably) there is a fairly high degree of uniformity, or of standardization, which was the gist of the opening post of this thread (at least as I understood it). If the military approach (no pun intended) to air traffic management, including but not limited to standardized or mostly standardized r/t, is a good model to try to follow, it might be useful and practical for the further reason that necessarily it works by virtue of people following their unit's chain of command. Somehow I do not have the sense that FAA facilities function quite the same way (yet). What about in the UK?? does atc tend to function as if a strong chain of command is in place, or is it more like a mere civil service workplace? [this is a mere interrogative - I intended no sarcasm or other aspersion, cast or otherwise conveyed or implied.]

DA50driver 12th Jul 2013 18:21

Local language can be used
 
Every country can use their native language in radio transmissions. (Determined at the same meeting, in Chicago) Now, what is the official language of the USA? (Hint; Good Luck).

Lets call the official language of the USA non-ICAO english, and all the people that complain about R/T in the USA not following ICAO English just lost the argument. No need to file anything with ICAO, as we are communicating in the local language when you do not understand what is being said, much like when I fly in China or Spain.

I am not a native English speaker, but the US is the easiest and most efficient ATC environment I have operated in. (The only place I have not been yet is the Antarctic. Still want to go there as my Grandmothers cousin was the first guy to get to the South Pole and back).

Why not embrace and enjoy our differences? I operate world wide and it is part of what makes my job interesting.

Learn something. Every flight, every day.

HEATHROW DIRECTOR 12th Jul 2013 18:39

<< the controller may use the following alternative form of phraseology.

When established on localiser runway 28, descend on the glidepath QNH 1011, BIGJET 347

Or

or when the aircraft is already established on the localiser:

Descend on the glidepath, QNH 1011, BIGJET 347>>

No controller would ever put the aircraft callsign at the end of the message, captain!!!

beardy 12th Jul 2013 20:49

Good point Mr Heathrow, would you like to propose the amendment to the CAP from whence the quote came?


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