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

WillowRun 6-3 17th Aug 2013 02:14

The Lawyer Speaks
The legal doctrine of negligence per se applies to (a) negligence claims where (b) the asserted breach of a legal duty is shown to have involved a violation of an applicable governmental regulation or (even more clearly) some regulatory law or standard. One could argue, I guess, deviation from ICAO standard words phrases, syntax, numeric convention ("point dot or decimal??" - the Internet derivative of 'coffee, tea or me?'?) and from other expressions/indications and/or manifestations of Uniformity, the Big Uniformity, constitutes such a violation. I think not. The very fact - glaringly obvious fact - that so many posting members disagree, or even quarrel, over the relevance (.....if any) of adherence to ICAO Straight Talk proves, to a legal certainty (at least to this holder of General Counsel right title and writ) that deviations from ICAO-stuff Are NOT probative, ipso facto, of negligence per se.

Less than 70 words per sentence, I thinka, and Thank You!!-!!-!! to member who earlier urged brev-it-y. WillowRun 6-3, ORD area, With You [six words, or seven?]

cvg2iln 17th Aug 2013 03:05

Just returned from a trip to the USA, and what struck me in the light of this thread was the number of incorrect read backs, and misheard frequencies, along with quite literally dozens of: "........I missed it - who was that climbing to '4 oh oh'?" or ".......sorry what heading was the Cactus on?" type of confusions I heard, because just about everyone was using non-standard phrases.
Non standard to exactly whom? Non standard perhaps to the residents of Little Britain, but so be it. The world doesn't revolve around your axle. Do please engage your translation circuits ( similar to others do when flying in UK airspace) when exiting the M25 orbital.

I have never experienced ambiguity when operating under US ATC. Conversely, I have never experienced complete certainty as to the meaning of the given clearance when operating in UK airspace. Even "cleared as filed" doesn't mean cleared as filed. We just read it back and do what we think is required. When heading west, there's a sigh of relief when we drop from radar coverage and the mess is behind us.

Shanwick on 123.95 is a good thing.

Best not to mention points further east.

My ultimate responsibility is that of getting the aircraft on the ground before it runs out of fuel, and that's what I do, regardless of the jumbled- up lingo.

mross 17th Aug 2013 06:20

to WillowRun
Better. Twenty-four words per sentence. But could you say it in plain English?
I think you are saying that, because so many pilots do not comply with ICAO phraseology, that it is not negligent? You guys invented jargon!

Uplinker 17th Aug 2013 06:23

cvg2iln: ICAO, dear chap, not "Little Britain" as you so quaintly put it. And no translation is needed if the standard phrases are used - that's the whole point!

I have been based at 5 different locations around the UK, so far, none within the M25, and a year based in France too. I am simply making the observation that a lot of mistakes one hears are associated with "non-standard phrases" and I don't mean just in the USA, although that is what the OP asked. I am not claiming that the UK is perfect either, but they do have some of the busiest airspace in the world and their controllers are excellent - almost all of them use standard phraseology.

As far as ambiguity is concerned; myself, the crew and over 300 passengers might have been killed a few years back after a Mexican controller gave us the wrong QNH because he was either trying to save time, or trying to be slick, or couldn't be bothered to say the proper phrase.

As far as 'heading west and leaving the mess behind'; Thanks - I'm sure the Irish, Scottish, English, Dutch and German ATC, all of whom are the epitome of clarity and professionalism, will be delighted by that swipe.

Galaxy; I hear you.

737er 17th Aug 2013 06:58

Actually this topic is of great concern and US controllers have been working on an experimental new procedure by which they can both alert and hopefully appease complaints of British pilots operating stateside. The procedure is based on tone recognition technology and the testing thus far has been very promising. Here is a brit captain during a test who gratuitously volunteered:

beardy 17th Aug 2013 08:28


If you have to ask whose standard you should be working to, you are ill prepared for your job. It seems from your subsequent points that you neither work to your own country's, nor ICAO standards. That is a problem for the rest of us, one which you seem incapable of acknowledging despite it being pointed out to you. Do you learn nothing from other people?

Artie Fufkin 17th Aug 2013 11:30


Have you ever considered that your inability to understand published standard phraseology in foreign airspace may say something about you?

If you can't cope with ICAO standard, varied by promulgated national differences, maybe you should ask your employer for a transfer to a domestic only fleet?

Jet Jockey A4 17th Aug 2013 11:53

A reply to 737er...
OK, I must admit I laughed but you are a naughty boy!

Poor baby I thought his eyes were going to pop out!

captjns 17th Aug 2013 12:00

Best RT in the universe? London Shannon Dublin Maastricht, Germany, Sncandinavian Countries. I'm just a lowly expat from a country west of 30 West, but that's the way I see it.:ok::D

WillowRun 6-3 17th Aug 2013 12:20

Negligence, proof thereof, and "per se"
To mross: not exactly. (That is, your post, while using plain English admirably, does not quite state the point I made, or attempted to make.) There is the legal concept of negligence. A claim of negligence must sufficiently prove four elements. They are: first, the existence of a legal duty (that is, a legal duty owed by the person being sued (the defendant) to the person who was injured by the claimed negligence and who is suing (the plaintiff). (Plaintiff as a word includes a party suing on behalf of someone else, such as in the case of an estate suing on behalf of the individuals who tragically lost their lives in, just for example, the SFO Triple-7 mishap). Second is the element of breach, IOW breach by the defendant of the legal duty. We'll come back to that one shortly. Third is the element of 'proximate cause', which can be murky, ambiguous, highly contentious, very complicated. How many times has the NTSB found one single hole in the metaphoric Swiss cheese as the cause of a given accident? Legally the idea is to hit up the single-biggest-cause Without Which It Would Not Have Happened. Fourth is dumb-luck obvious: damages (the plaintiff has to have suffered damages).

Now, ordinarily, the plaintiff has to undertake and accomplish some heavy lifting in order to prove that the defendant breached the legal duty. Fair enough. But......the doctrine of "negligence per se" allows the plaintiff to point out to the court that the defendant's act or omission Violated a Law or Regulatory Standard of some importance. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but I'm highly confident that you get the idea.

Now to apply this to the main focus of this thread, which began with an observation or assertion that the US civil aviation system or community or cadre of pilots and controllers - whatever you want to call it - necessarily must take one of two actions. Either, one, cop an exception to ICAO. Or two, quit all the checkin' in with you, yadda yadda, blah blah blah.

And now, finally, to answer your Post In Re the Seeking of Clarification and/or Confirmation of My Prior Post. I am saying - My Contention Would Be - that because there is such open and notorious, widespread, commonplace, and impliedly accepted deviation from ICAO standard phraseology (here, meaning all the ICAO standard rules and practices for R/T), that a plaintiff could not rely on the ICAO standard to win the element of Breach of Duty on the basis of negligence per se. Certainly and obviously, if the R/T in a given mishap was a major causitive factor, a plaintiff could use its divergence from ICAO standard as evidence of negligence. But it would not be negligence per se. Per se, two words, five letters (two of which are recurrent), simple Latin to enunciate, yet, all the difference in the (legal) world.

Very interestingly, this effort at dejargonizing the point I sought earlier to make leads to another point of some substantive relevance (or so I surely hope). It is that those pilots and others advocating here for strict adherence to ICAO standards may want to think about the legal impact such adherence might well have. Namely, if you get uniform adherence to standard R/T accomplished, then deviations from such standard could very well indeed trigger findings of negligence per se. It is a sort of 'be careful what you wish for' suggestion. ICAO is, after all, just ICAO, a UN agency with a sort of concocted jurisdictional scope. I lack the qualifications to assess this point; maybe the risk of easier lawsuit outcomes is a risk well worth taking, in order to obtain compliance with the ICAO rules. On another thread, the learned and highly knowledge PJ2 held forth in eloquent expression on the need to not just respect, but to preserve, protect and defend the architecture of the Safety System of civil aviation. And thus, I defer to such far wiser posters on the matter of whether the press for compliance with standarisation has a downside in the form of easier "wins" against certificated air carriers in scheduled service and their aircrews, whether here in the US, in Great Britain, on the Continent, or anywhere else.

Lots of traffic in an approach corridor over my campus yesterday, on final to ORD, compass heading looked like about 40-45, altitude from purely visual observation about 1200-1500 feet, color me clueless to guess airspeed. Pretty closely metered - though I didn't time it, spacing seemed like under a minute 30. I'm guessing all the approach parameters and techniques, and their interplay with particular avionics or navigation systems (as is being painstakingly dissected on the UPS crash at Birmingham thread), are impacted when ATC packs the corridor with aircraft so close together? Or even with such spacing, it's all the same?

MikeMeister 17th Aug 2013 12:43

The number of wrong readbacks and missed calls by US pilots in European airspace outnumbers any other nationality by far. I blame this mainly on the use of non-standard RT in their own country and the almost sheer impossibity to communicate in standard RT.

I am surprised that the FAA does not act, or am I ?
The point made about liability and claims because of wrongdoing make sense.
It's time to clean up your act guys !

mross 17th Aug 2013 14:37

to WillowRun
'per se' has only one recurrent letter. No one is suggesting suing pilots for negligence; we are not using the word in its legal sense. Anyway, instead of hijacking this thread I suggest you go to eBay, buy a thousand commas and assorted punctuation marks and sell off all you capital letters. :hmm: Flesch-Kincaid reading grade 12 - needs improvement ;)

WillowRun 6-3 17th Aug 2013 14:59

So, don't buy my book, when it comes out, if you're so fastidious about supposed writing convention. Actually I did wonder how to count the letters, but never mind. And as to use of caps - an obviously sarcastic device, as any schoolboy knows - I can't help it if you (in the sense of anyone) have to think and pay attention when legal matters are discussed. You complained about complex sentences - so I watered them down by means of such devices.

One. The thread clearly implicated suits against carriers not just pilots (perhaps including reference to aviators was error on my part).

Two. If you think I write in excessively complex form, wait until the effort to standardize R/T more completely- if that is the way forward that is chosen - gets reduced to writing.

Three. I shudder to see the horrid word "hijack" used near or in reference to my name, even a pseudo. Please retract or ask the MOD to delete my recent posts. You already know the reason, and I care not that the "h-word" may sometimes be used here.
Good Day.

Annex14 17th Aug 2013 15:40

WillowRun 6 -3
No doubt you highlight an interesting side aspect of the ongoing discussion. However, you obviously do it with "national law focussed " glasses.
I believe your statement:
ICAO is, after all, just ICAO, a UN agency with a sort of concocted jurisdictional scope.
is simply not covering the facts.
Those experts inside ICAO, developing and evaluating the Standards and Recommended Practices, are a multi national task force, many members of which are US Americans. All the signatory states of that Convention of Chicago - USA is one of many - have agreed upon the procedure to implement these Standards and Recommended Practices into their national laws. At the same time the rule applies that deviations from that standard have to be reported to ICAO, so it can be published in Amendments to the relevant Documents.

What puzzles the international community is not the fact that deviation in R/T communications happen , but that the responsible administration - FAA - apparently misses to catch and correct the departures from international agreed procedures in the field of R/T communications.

The last chapter of your post describing the situation in ORD APP sectors is a fine example of how it should be. Obviously no controller get into his mind to apply homemade separation minima or issue undue instructions. At the same time none of those pilots involved not a moment get into their mind not to follow those instructions.
Apparently these Standards and Recommended Practices coming forth from a - concocted jurisdictional scope - wholly or partial transferred into National Rules and Regulations work very well.
Question: Why should that not be possible in R/T Communications as well ?

WillowRun 6-3 17th Aug 2013 16:35

Annex14, sir
Annex14, thank you for your posted comments, and effectively impelling me to revise and extend my remarks. Let me please start with a brief note of background and/or explanation: in serving as an adjunct professor in one of my university's doctorate programs, I have been acculturated to the use of message board such as this as a means to provoke discussion from which participants may gain a better or deeper understanding of the subject at hand. In this effort I may overlook subtleties of word-choice. To wit, I meant no offense to the men and women who serve ICAO, nor to the fine and important work the organisation has done and continues to do.

Rather, the point embedded in the phrase 'concocted jurisdictional scope' is, in fact, nicely illustrated by your observation as to the relative lack of effectiveness of the FAA (with respect to requiring adherence to R/T standards). FAA, recall, has the full authority of the United States Government behind it. It has all the law enforcement staff and means and so on. Yet it is inadequate to some of its primary accountabilities: how many years has its next generation data processing system been in the pipeline?

What means does ICAO have at its disposal to enforce or require compliance with its standards?

Moreover, ICAO covers the world (I was tipped off by the word International, I guess). There are signatory states, are there not, where the concept of adherence to the R/T standards is far from anyone's idea of important? (Or maybe there are not any such states, but by intuitive reasoning, if a major customer of Airbus and Boeing flies a perfectly good aircraft into a hull loss in perfectly good weather, how well does that customer's nation-state do with ICAO standards compliance?). And are there not nations in which operators of big iron in civil transport exist, but are not signatories? Maybe ICAO is universal. I just have a hard time thinking that the approach metering from whatever they use as a TRACON for Damascus Int'l (as a random example) is as good as my friendly neighborhood ORD Terminal Control Area (that's what TCA stands for, right?). And so the whole world-wide system is so massive with so many moving parts (literally and figuratively!!) that -WITHOUT denigrating ICAO such as it is - the means and methods of that fine organisation still seem insufficient to tackle and ground this problem as a whole.

I plead guilty to seeing things through the prism of American law. But I try to be open-minded and thus, again, thank you, and good day.

flarepilot 18th Aug 2013 01:50

the modern ways of radio com in the usa is probably due to an evolution...more planes on the radio, more complicated clearances and the like.

mind you I am one of the by the book guys on the radio, I still say WILCO for example (check the AIM pilot controller glossary). I say FIFE instead of FIVE and NINER instead of NINE and WUN instead of ONE.

when I was a copilot some captains told me to knock it off...but when I made captain I did it the right way.

I've heard people read back a clearance like: fl250, heading 250, 132.4 and not read their callsign. of course the wrong plane got it.

I had a japanese controller address an alpa conference and tell us all he didn't understand when a plane called for fire engines to standby...the thought that others don't call fire engines , fire engines is bothersome, but we must work together.

and the speed of speech is obviously above mach 1.0 in certain environments like LGA and ORD.

And slow flight at MACON TRACON.

But, we are still the best.

I recall flying in mexico from mexico city to san diego. We made position reports as it was non radar much of the way and I read off my position report in PTATEN fashion...the mexican controller just responded with the last two letters of my call sign...ROMEO PAPA...that was it...He didn't say who he was, or that he heard anything, he just said the last two letters of my N number.

When in Rome, be a roman candle

When in Rome, do as the romans do

When in the USA, do like the Americans do.

Capn Bloggs 18th Aug 2013 02:02

I say FIFE instead of FIVE and NINER instead of NINE and WUN instead of ONE
Got the first two, but WUN for ONE? How do you yanks pronounce wun/one?? ;)

Lord Spandex Masher 18th Aug 2013 08:29

Originally Posted by flarepilot (Post 7998448)
But, we are still the best.

I'm glad you're time in the cooler hasn't affected your ego sevenstrokeroll.

Welcome back. ;)

400drvr 18th Aug 2013 14:18

Don't forget to duck
Con Pilot...Don't forget to duck after lobbing a grenade like that:)

acroguy 22nd Aug 2013 03:05

For those outside the US (and maybe those inside) this is how it works here, and works very well, thank you.


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