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Cabin Crew Language Req's (safety Related)  
User currently offlineIakobos From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 3312 posts, RR: 35
Posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 4575 times:

After reading pax reports from various websites related to the language barrier between cabin crew and pax, I have been searching ICAO, IOSA, JAA and many others trying to find out what actual regulations are; not from a "pax comfort" but from a safety perspective, taking into account the (IMO) crucial point that in case of an emergency, it is highly advisable that pax can understand cabin crew members.

Years ago I worked for an airline and I recall that on a particular flight (flying hajji to Jeddah - nearly 300 of them...) a minor emergency situation developped whereby the cabin crew was instructed to take (well known) safety dispositions.
Clear announcements in slow and articulated English produced as much effect as asking the time to a donkey, so the cabin crew (all experienced and female), following instructions of the cabin chief and in perfect coordination,
proceeded by signs....despite the fact that all were pilgrims believing in a (even better) after life, what ensued was undescribable chaos, and of course no safety dispositions were taken, to the contrary.

Can anyone aware of cabin safety regulations or a f/a him/herself tell us what
are the requirements concerning crew to pax communications ?

Note: new regulations oblige require flight deck crew (worldwide) to reach a rather high knowledge of the English language (level 4...5 being a native speaker) by 2008.

28 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineAa757first From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 3347 posts, RR: 8
Reply 1, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 4569 times:

I can only speak for the United States.

Flight attendants are to be able to speak, read and understand excellent English to serve as a flight attendant. Also, to be seated in an emergency exit row, passengers are expected to be able to speak, read and understand English.

The AFA was actually pushing rules that would disqualify persons with thick accents from serving as a flight attendant. As far as I know, that went no where.

AAndrew


User currently offlineIakobos From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 3312 posts, RR: 35
Reply 2, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 4551 times:

Aa757first,

Thanks but I think the eventuality of crew>pax non-communication in the US is close to non-existent.

In other parts of the world it is not infrequent to see an a/c operating in a completely different environment and transporting pax with no knowledge of English at all, or the opposite, cabin crew with no practical knowledge of English.
This happens on a daily basis with charter airlines, and less frequently with wet-leased a/c.


User currently offlineAa757first From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 3347 posts, RR: 8
Reply 3, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 4546 times:

This is true. Sorry I couldn't be of more help.

But, remember, Continental Express runs a few routes out of very small Mexican cities to Houston. I would say a lot of those passengers probably can't speak very much English. I hear that flight attendants basically rely on pre-recorded announcements.

It would be interesting to see what happens when, say, a French airline flies between Russia and Germany.

AAndrew


User currently offlineJAGflyer From Canada, joined Aug 2004, 3496 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 4541 times:

I will speak for the airlines I have flown for.

Air Canada/Westjet/Jazz/Tango all say everything in French and English. Saftey stuff is usually pre-recorded.

El Al does all their announcements in Hebrew, followed by English. Airshow was info/maps in Hebrew, then Info/Maps in English. The saftey video was recorded in Hebrew with English and Arabic subtitles. All other communication was done in Hebrew/English with the exeption of communications between the cockpit and FAs, which was all done in Hebrew.



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User currently offlineJohnStevens From United Kingdom, joined May 2005, 43 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 4529 times:

Well I imagine such regulations would be very impractical. Let me explain why.

I recently flew a number of flights with EK, who as you well know carry passengers of many different nationalities. Now during the preflight brief it was mentioned to the passengers that the crew were capable of speaking something like 8 or 9 different languages. But I would think that this was from a service point of view rather than a safety one, simply because in the event of an emergency you can not expect the crew to bark instructions in 9 different languages it would simply take too long.

What seems more sensible is for the crew to give instructions in the languages of the departure and destination airports and hope everyone who doesn't understand that simply copies what they see everyone else doing.

John


User currently offlineIakobos From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 3312 posts, RR: 35
Reply 6, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 4497 times:

I understand, but let's take a couple of examples:

- a Belgian a/c wet leased by a Nigerian operator to fly exclusively Nigerians to Saudi Arabia. Pax only language is Yoruba, crew speaks En-Dutch-French, probably also German.

- a charter airline from Mongolia carries a full load of Scots bound to attend a seminar on yoga in Uulan Bator. Crew speaks Mongolian and a little Chinese.

The point is not how many languages members of the crew can use, but that in some cases (many actually) there is absolutely no common language, not even some semblance, in other words no way to get a message across.


User currently offlineLfutia From Netherlands, joined Dec 2002, 3334 posts, RR: 27
Reply 7, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 4429 times:
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KLM has their announcements in Dutch first. then English. The Airshow Maps are Dutch then English. and the crew communicate in Dutch.


Leo/ORD -- Groetjes uit de VS! -- Heeft u laatst nog met KLM gevlogen?
User currently offlineAviaction From Germany, joined Nov 2003, 256 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4362 times:

lakobos
In the case of your first example I (and the passengers) would expect a tour rep to be onboard. He would be available to assist the crew should any language problems arise.

Many charter flights cater to "affinity groups". As special travels are involved, quite frequently, a representative of the club, tour operator, company will meet their passengers at check-in - and join the flight, acting as an inflight-interpreter should this be required.

Most probably also your planeload of Scots would be accompanied by someone from the company that has arranged the seminar. Odds are that he speaks some Mongalian, too, making it possible for him to interact with the crew.

Enjoyable flying to all of us.
Aviaction



German by nationality, European by heart!
User currently offlineAirframeAS From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 14150 posts, RR: 24
Reply 9, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 4361 times:

Quoting Aa757first (Reply 1):
Flight attendants are to be able to speak, read and understand excellent English to serve as a flight attendant. Also, to be seated in an emergency exit row, passengers are expected to be able to speak, read and understand English.

Thats right, its a Federal Aviation Regulation. I think its in part 121 and 135. It even applies to A&P mechanics and aircraft dispatchers as well.



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User currently offlineAndz From South Africa, joined Feb 2004, 8443 posts, RR: 10
Reply 10, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 4324 times:
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Quoting Aa757first (Reply 1):
Flight attendants are to be able to speak, read and understand excellent English to serve as a flight attendant.

Guess every flight I took in the States had the exceptions to the rule making the announcements.

Quoting Aa757first (Reply 1):
The AFA was actually pushing rules that would disqualify persons with thick accents from serving as a flight attendant.

We need that here, some of the African cabin attendants employed by SAA have very indistinct accents and I live here! I shudder to think what some foreign tourisst must think.



After Monday and Tuesday even the calendar says WTF...
User currently offlineIakobos From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 3312 posts, RR: 35
Reply 11, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4311 times:

Aviaction,

My first example, hajj pilgrimage flight, is very different from a (organized) tour.
AFAIR there was no rep of any sort on those flights, barely even before departure to help sort out (police) the overbookings.

Even if one rep, supposedly able to translate from crew to pax, would be onboard, he/she would be of very limited help (300 pax) or even worse, he/she could add to the confusion.

Anyone whom has experienced an emergency situation involving a "mass" in a confined space, even on the ground and even with people used to listen and follow instructions, will understand the difficulty.
Make it in a tube in the air, with people who are only used to behave their own way, add cabin luggage of extremely dubious nature (including stoves to make tea, no joke) and you are in for a drama.

We all know about our ("first world") regulations or are accustomed to first world airlines' practice concerning English.
ICAO, IATA etc.. are clear about this, at least as far as flight deck, and to a limited extend cabin crew, are concerned.
What I do not know is if there are any (safety) regs or at least guidance in place framing the cabin to pax communication issue.

One could think that problems of this nature are seldom encountered.
Having read several forums (airlines-civ av authorities-newspapers-consumer organizations-etc...) in the last days, it is evident that this is a daily occurence in Europe.


User currently offlineAviaction From Germany, joined Nov 2003, 256 posts, RR: 2
Reply 12, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4295 times:

lakobos
I couldn't agree more, these safety aspects are obviously quite often overlooked and/or not taken into consideration. My reply was merely intended to demonstrate that it is not a black or white story. Moreover every Cabin Crew member will confirm that on quite a number of flights, the Crew depends on a passenger to act as an interpreter for his fellow passenger(s). I do realize though that in the event of a evacuation, this would not necessarily speed up the process.

And very recently I had an encounter which showed me that you don't have to go to faraway places to see what "language problems" are. On a UA flight from ORD to Frankfurt, we had a French purser on board. Alas, his English was almost unintelligible, so was his German. Anyone whose mother tongue was not English or German wouldn't have understood a single word.

Safe flying to all of us.
Aviaction



German by nationality, European by heart!
User currently offlineXpat From United States of America, joined Nov 2004, 634 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 4278 times:

On NW AMS-BOM-AMS run, there is a dedicated Hindi speaking person on board. They are not exactly a flight attendant (I forget what their actual designation is). Their primary duty is to translate all English announcements into Hindi. They also perform some service related items i.e. pour coffee/water, hand out customs/disembarkation forms.

I feel their position is rather redundant, as most Indians do speak English and would be more than able/willing to translate announcements for those who don't. The liklihood of having a minority English speaking passenger load on flights to India is very slim.

[Edited 2005-05-21 13:18:20]


The only thing we have to fear is the sky falling on our heads. -Asterix
User currently offlineDgehfx From Canada, joined May 2001, 132 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 4279 times:

Only passengers who can understand emergency instructions from crew are permitted to sit at emergency exit rows. In Canada, this normally means passengers who speak English or French. However, if a crew member speaks and can give instructions to passengers in another language (AC carries F/A's who speak at least English French Spanish and Portuguese on flights to Brazil and English French Hebrew and Arabic on flights to Israel, for example) then those passengers may occupy the emergency exit rows.
Otherwise, most safety explanations are given in video form on screens in the cabin which allows passengers who don't speak route languages to understand basic safety procedures.


User currently offlineWing From Turkey, joined Oct 2000, 1559 posts, RR: 24
Reply 15, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 4247 times:

,a Belgian a/c wet leased by a Nigerian operator to fly exclusively Nigerians to Saudi Arabia. Pax only language is Yoruba, crew speaks En-Dutch-French, probably also German.

Iakobos,

I have been in a similar work condition like you've mentioned.Two years ago my previous company Pegasus wet leased aircraft to AirAlgerie and Khalifa Air .Both companies were Algerian so the passengers were Arabic speaking locals mostly.
A wet lease means the airplane is leased with its pilots and crew but since neither of us spoke Arabic in Turkey and locals can not speak neither Turkish nor (most of them)English, our company requested a representative FA who can speak (atleast) English very well to help with the announcements and safety procedures.
These FA's then took course in our company about our procedures.Then we had 4 of our FA's accompanied by an additional Algerian FA in all our flights in Algeria.



Widen your world
User currently offlineCAL From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 499 posts, RR: 9
Reply 16, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 4224 times:

Quoting Aa757first (Reply 1):
passengers are expected to be able to speak, read and understand English.

The FAR states that for passengers seated in an exit row: "They must read well enough to understand the carriers instructions in its printed or graphic form for operating the emergency exit and other emergency procedures"

With that said, if a passenger can not speak the language of the carrier it does not mean that they can Not sit at an emergency exit.

At continental airlines there is an emergency exit seating criteria card that is in the seat back pocket at the emergency exits. This card has the criteria for sitting there in many languages. If the customer understands that, and also understand the emergency demo card (which is all graphics) then they can sit in an emergency exit row even know the cabin crew can not communicate with them verbally.



CAL........Continental Airlines....... Work Hard, Fly Right
User currently offlineAA B777-200 From Netherlands, joined Mar 2001, 505 posts, RR: 4
Reply 17, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 4226 times:

Let's not forget that here's a BIG difference between service (read : many different languages) and safety related announcements.
Once an in-charge flight attendant makes an announcement, this will usually be done in English and the local language, perhaps an extra language.
At KLM most senior pursers speak Dutch, English, Spanish, French and German.
But still an announcement is usually done in 2 or maximum 3 languages.
Additional "local" f/a's may add a few words in Korean, Japanese etc. Once I even heard an announcement in Indonesian (prerecorded).
I do think this is common with every major airline.

But if an evacuation should be initiated, most communication will be done in English.


User currently offlineGlobeTrekker From Netherlands, joined Dec 2003, 851 posts, RR: 14
Reply 18, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 4171 times:

Isn't this why some airlines have local crew basis? For language purposes. I know KLM have them in Japan, Korea, China and I think Taiwan. They had them in India too, but most Indians speak good English, so they nixed that one.
Someone once told me that JAL had a crewbase in London, AA in LIM and BA in MEX.

On KLM flights I flew on to/from AUA and CUR, announcements were made in Dutch and English. Before also in the local Dutch Caribbean language Papiamento, when they also flew with local crews. When lucky if you do get a Purser who is a descendant from the Dutch Caribbean, he/she will also make announcements in Papiamento.

On flight continuing on to South America (LIM, UIO and GYE) Spanish was also spoken and subtitled in the safety demonstration video.

I was also once on a AMS-SXM-CUR flight, with a lot of Germans on board, where announcements were also made in German in addition to Dutch and English. Strangely enough not French, although half the island of SXM is French.

Globe Trekker



The World Is A Book And Those Who Do Not Travel Read Only A Page
User currently offlineTUNisia From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1844 posts, RR: 5
Reply 19, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 4132 times:

Alitalia flights to North Africa and the Middle East from Italy have Italian, English, Arabic. At least I think remember hearing Arabic.

Surprisingly on a Tunisair flight I didn't hear French, even though just about everyone in Tunisia knows French.



Someday the sun will shine down on me in some faraway place - Mahalia Jackson
User currently offlineMarambio From Argentina, joined Oct 2004, 1160 posts, RR: 26
Reply 20, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 4117 times:

On a Lufthansa flight from Buenos Aires to Frankfurt, operated with an A340-600, I was seated on the emergency exit row with another passenger.

Before taking off at Buenos Aires' Ezeiza airport, a flight attendant approached the two of us and asked whether we spoke German or English. He also handed us special safety cards, containing information regarding the opening of the emergency door.

The passenger next me was not fluent in English or German, so she had to change seats with another man from the row behind us, who was from Austria, thus his mother language was German.

Other experiences include a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Sao Paulo, where there was an important group of Frenchmen on board, so the purser made all announcements in Dutch, English, Spanish and French. Surprisingly they were not made in Portuguese, albeit the flight's final destination was in Brazil, the world's biggest Portuguese-speaking country.

I will try to remember other episodes and post them on this thread.

Saludos,
Marambio



Aerolíneas Argentinas - La Argentina que levanta vuelo.
User currently offlineIakobos From Belgium, joined Aug 2003, 3312 posts, RR: 35
Reply 21, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 4053 times:

Most of us on A.net know that main international carriers go to great length to ensure that cabin crew language skills will be representative of their passengers, both for service and safety purposes.

Emergency exit seats allocation is well covered by regulations and check-in agents are (or should be) drilled accordingly.

But this is not my point.

I am raising an issue whereby cabin crew and passengers cannot communicate, not due to a lack of language skills from the part of the crew, or lack of care by the airline, but simply because the two sides are from very different cultural horizons and an oral link cannot be found, not even a marginal one.

One should not think that this is a problem that can only be encountered in rare occasions in "remote" parts of the world, it happens in European skies
on a daily basis and between pax and crew whom are geographically not that far apart.

Thereby my question: is the essential (vital in case of emergency) communication interface between cabin crew and pax regulated ?


User currently offlineAviaction From Germany, joined Nov 2003, 256 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 4010 times:

lakobos
As far as I know, there is no such regulation. Surprisingly in a way, if I may add. Perhaps International laws regulating air travel haven't kept pace with the changes in the airline world. Some thirty years ago, your average flag carrier would make sure that when flying between A and B, crew spoke the languages of A and B, as 99 per cent of all passengers would be citizen of countries A and B.

Today this carrier might operate a giant hub - and carry passengers of countries C, D, E, F, G and H, however, still having crews on board speaking languages of A and B only.

On any intercontinental flight you might find passengers from 50 different nations. Although from a safety point of view, it would be better and advisable if all these passengers could be addressed in their respective mother tongue in an emergency, this is regrettably not possible. Perhaps that's why regulations and laws haven't been modified.

Safe flying to all of us.
Aviaction



German by nationality, European by heart!
User currently offlineBrido From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 160 posts, RR: 1
Reply 23, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 3921 times:

To simplify the current question and answer:

I am almost sure that the crew-to-passenger communication is only regulated by the AIRCRAFT REGISTRATION.

All crew communications, and especially emergency SHOUTED COMMANDS are to be in the language of the country where the aircraft is registered.

Any additional languages used for PA announcements, etc. are strictly voluntary on the part of the airline. This is where customer service comes into play. They MAY make additional announcements in foreign languages, but it is not required by regulation.

I also did wet-lease charter flying for companies around the world, as a Flight Attendant. Some countries required announcements/emergency procedures/shouted commands be done in more than one language. And some did not.

EG: Canadian airplanes I believe require announcements and emergency commands be done in English and French. (At least on the wet lease I did). In Mexico, multi-lingual communication was not REQUIRED, since we were a US-registered aircraft. But the company policy was for at least 2 FAs to be bilingual...

Bottom line, I believe these requirements are related to the language/country of the aircraft's REGISTRATION.


User currently offlinePilotsmoe From United States of America, joined May 2005, 249 posts, RR: 0
Reply 24, posted (9 years 2 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 3899 times:

Quoting Brido (Reply 23):
I am almost sure that the crew-to-passenger communication is only regulated by the AIRCRAFT REGISTRATION.

All crew communications, and especially emergency SHOUTED COMMANDS are to be in the language of the country where the aircraft is registered.

Any additional languages used for PA announcements, etc. are strictly voluntary on the part of the airline. This is where customer service comes into play. They MAY make additional announcements in foreign languages, but it is not required by regulation.

I also did wet-lease charter flying for companies around the world, as a Flight Attendant. Some countries required announcements/emergency procedures/shouted commands be done in more than one language. And some did not.

EG: Canadian airplanes I believe require announcements and emergency commands be done in English and French. (At least on the wet lease I did). In Mexico, multi-lingual communication was not REQUIRED, since we were a US-registered aircraft. But the company policy was for at least 2 FAs to be bilingual...

Bottom line, I believe these requirements are related to the language/country of the aircraft's REGISTRATION.

hmmm, how many languages does SAS do their safety breifings in?


25 AnsettB727 : I flew SYD to LHR via BKK in 2000 on British Airways, only to hear all announcements done in four languages! There must have been a tour group aboard
26 Iakobos : No, this does not hold water Brido, eg. companies dry leasing an Icelandic craft or operating under a "registration of convenience" would have a very
27 MAS777 : On Malaysia Airlines - all announcements are made in English including the Safety Video on all international sectors. Additional announcements are the
28 Scanwing : I have only flown domestic routes in Sweden with SAS (ARN-LLA) and their safety breifings are in both English and a Scandinavian language. Swedish, N
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