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HongKongTV News Talks About Air China JFK Incident  
User currently offlineYLWbased From Hong Kong, joined Jan 2006, 824 posts, RR: 4
Posted (7 years 3 weeks 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 9517 times:

today on Hong Kong Cable TV newsnet, it takes about the very famous Air China conversation with JFK Ground back in March (or April?) this year. the news report is widely broad-casted on public trains and big outdoor TV screen. It actually bring Hong Kong Civil Aviation Department to investigate do Air China pilots meet HKCAD language requirements.


Original Video clip from youtube



Hong Kong is not China. Not better or worse, just different.
21 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1894 posts, RR: 9
Reply 1, posted (7 years 3 weeks 3 days 19 hours ago) and read 9248 times:

The news is actually covered by a number of Chinese channels... I actually watched a ETTV report (TW-based news) on the Air China pilots... the original news is done by CNN...

But I am seriously worried about the quality of English spoken by the Air China pilots... They are incomprehensible. For a busy airport like JFK and LAX, that must pose a problem. The more worrisome aspect is the English fluency of the instructors and an interviewed student pilot.

Carfield


User currently offlinePanAm747LHR From United States of America, joined Sep 2005, 232 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (7 years 3 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 9145 times:

This is worrysome, but at least they were on the ground. On the ground you can be told to "Hold your position" while the tower directs other aircraft around you if need be. What really worries me is if this kind of confusion and misunderstanding were to occur up in the air. This kind of miscommunication can lead to a very serious disaster when your 747 is moving along at a few hundred miles an hour in the air, as opposed to chugging along on the ground...
Hopefully Air China will get their linguistic act together.

Nick


User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8060 posts, RR: 54
Reply 3, posted (7 years 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 9080 times:

Here's another one. Koreanair did an INCREDIBLE bit of flying to avoid a massive disaster. Play the animation, link in the middle of the page. Air China. Yikes.


fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlineCedarjet From United Kingdom, joined May 1999, 8060 posts, RR: 54
Reply 4, posted (7 years 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 9080 times:

Sorry, here's the link.

http://www.ntsb.gov/Events/2000/incursion/incur_video.htm

And, I'd forgotten about that poor controller. Poor guy must have nearly had a heart attack.



fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
User currently offlineDL767captain From United States of America, joined Mar 2007, 2539 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (7 years 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 8899 times:

ok thats just plane scary! i would never want my pilot to speak badly, with my luck he would misunderstand and slam the plane into the mountain! they need to go back for some training!

User currently offlineEDICHC From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (7 years 3 weeks 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 8547 times:

Quoting Cedarjet (Reply 3):
Koreanair did an INCREDIBLE bit of flying to avoid a massive disaster.

Right on there! Amazing reactions and airmanship by the KE flight crew.


User currently offlineZeke From Hong Kong, joined Dec 2006, 8872 posts, RR: 75
Reply 7, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 8240 times:

Quoting Carfield (Reply 1):

But I am seriously worried about the quality of English spoken by the Air China pilots... They are incomprehensible. For a busy airport like JFK and LAX, that must pose a problem. The more worrisome aspect is the English fluency of the instructors and an interviewed student pilot.

You need to get out more, he was not incomprehensible to me, in fact many find US flagged aircraft incomprehensible in many parts of the world.

Quoting Cedarjet (Reply 4):

And, I'd forgotten about that poor controller. Poor guy must have nearly had a heart attack.

He is the main problem in that situation, not the pilots. HE has to speak clearly, and slowly to all traffic, HE has to realise that international pilots maybe visiting the airport for the first time, HE has to know that the english being spoken by those pilots is actually pretty good.

The controller is not in control of a moving object, he is standing still, the pilots are trying to navigate, steer, look at charts, look after the cabin, as well as speaking on another ramp frequency all at the same time.

All he needs to do it to speak clearly, and slowly using standard phraseology, not raise his voice and speak faster.

I would not be surprised if many FAA controllers fail the new english test that all pilots and controllers have to sit, as some of the english in that test is harder to understand than what you hear on that recording.



We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking – Santosh Kalwar
User currently offlineKaktusdigital From Australia, joined Nov 2005, 48 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 8175 times:

As important as the language barrier is, I haven't really heard much discussion on the quality of the transmission. Excuse my ignorance, but I would have thought in this age of technology we would have radios onboard aircraft that sound better than a crappy telephone.

Cheers,
Henry



Henry Lam
User currently onlineSydscott From Australia, joined Oct 2003, 2922 posts, RR: 20
Reply 9, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 8106 times:

Quoting Kaktusdigital (Reply 8):
Excuse my ignorance, but I would have thought in this age of technology we would have radios onboard aircraft that sound better than a crappy telephone.

I watched the report on SBS news last night and the Tower transmission was Cystal Clear to me and the Controller was trying to be as unambiguous as possible in his directions. The Air China pilot responses, however, are extremely poor. The news report also quoted figures for Air China pilots which were not surprising but a bit worrying in that out of their entire pool of pilots on 700 odd had passed their English language test. Now most of their pilots would be flying domestically and regional Asian routes so there is probably less of a problem. But at major airports such as LAX, JFK, LHR etc pilots need to speak clear and unambiguous English.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 7):
he was not incomprehensible to me, in fact many find US flagged aircraft incomprehensible in many parts of the world.

His English is very poor however that is not the central problem. The problem is the pilots comprehension of what the tower is telling him is not up to standard. To me the Controler is being very clear and once he slowed his speaking down the pilots should not have had any problems understanding him.

I also doubt your claim about US flagged aircraft. Sure in some parts of the non-English speaking world pilots from English speaking backgrounds would have to slow down their speech and clearly enunciate words to get their meaning across to controllers but that would go with the territory. Experienced pilots from all airlines would be used to doing this.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 7):
HE has to know that the english being spoken by those pilots is actually pretty good.

The English being spoken by that pilot was poor. It was certainly not good.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 7):
HE has to speak clearly, and slowly to all traffic

He did. In fact he slowed his speaking down and pronounced his words slowly and repeated them slower again. What more would you have him do?

Quoting Zeke (Reply 7):
HE has to realise that international pilots maybe visiting the airport for the first time

Are you seriously telling me that the entire flight crew of that Air China flight would not have been to JFK before? C'mon, Air China has been flying to JFK for a little while now so they would have a number of pilots who would have been there before.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 7):
The controller is not in control of a moving object, he is standing still, the pilots are trying to navigate, steer, look at charts, look after the cabin, as well as speaking on another ramp frequency all at the same time.

In this scenario the pilots are doing nothing but steering the plane to the gate whilst making sure it doesn't collide with another. Aside from that the only thing they need to do is obey ATC. You also have to remember that ATC is in command of multiple aircraft as well. So you can't use the excuse that the pilots are busier than ATC when the aircraft is on the ground.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 7):
and slowly using standard phraseology

Are you kidding me? Are you telling me that directing a plane to make a "right turn" to " hold short" to ask "have you been cleared into the gate" and to "hold your position" are not standard phraseology at airport around the world?

The fact is that these Air China pilots do not have the comprehension skills to understand that a question is being asked of them from the tower at the end of the recording. The lack of comprehension on the part of the pilots cannot be blamed on the tower and that IS the problem which was highlighted by the reports I've seen.


User currently offlineZeke From Hong Kong, joined Dec 2006, 8872 posts, RR: 75
Reply 10, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 8027 times:

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 9):
To me the Controler is being very clear and once he slowed his speaking down the pilots should not have had any problems understanding him.

You should read the comments on pprune about American controllers, and JFK in particular, most overseas complain about it.

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 9):
I also doubt your claim about US flagged aircraft.

Become an international pilot, and then your eyes will open up.

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 9):

The English being spoken by that pilot was poor. It was certainly not good.

It was NORMAL for a person with english as a second language.

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 9):

He did. In fact he slowed his speaking down and pronounced his words slowly and repeated them slower again. What more would you have him do?

Well he actually also increased his pace and increased his volume, which is typical of a person who does not understand how to get a simple message across.

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 9):

Are you seriously telling me that the entire flight crew of that Air China flight would not have been to JFK before?

They may have, but it may have been several months or years, each time I go to JFK I need to look at the charts carefully as it is not my home port, I just know which ramp I normally park at, but I am not familiar by any means with the taxiway network. To me it sounds like the pilot is trying to read the chart while doing the readback to find the specified path.

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 9):
To me the Controler is being very clear and once he slowed his speaking down the pilots should not have had any problems understanding him.

JFK controllers are NOT clear, many people complain about them, including the majority of native english speakers who fly there infrequently. Unless you have operated into JFK, I dont know from what basis you can make the observations you are making.

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 9):

Are you kidding me? Are you telling me that directing a plane to make a "right turn" to " hold short" to ask "have you been cleared into the gate" and to "hold your position" are not standard phraseology at airport around the world?

A lot of what he says is NOT standard, and it is NOT standard across the world to be on a ramp frequency and ground frequency at the same time like JFK.

You only hear one side of the conversation, you are not privy to the ramp frequency communication which could have transmitted at any time as ground, as they talk to multiple carriers.



We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking – Santosh Kalwar
User currently onlineSydscott From Australia, joined Oct 2003, 2922 posts, RR: 20
Reply 11, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 7887 times:

Quoting Zeke (Reply 10):
It was NORMAL for a person with english as a second language.

Maybe in China it is. But if you listen to live ATC channels you can hear many different accents from Europe, the MIddle East, South America etc that all speak English substantially better than the pilots on that Air China flight. There are also many pilots that I've heard from JAL, Korean, ANA etc which I've heard who I assume from their accents are Asian that speak quite clear English. Again, this is not normal English for a person with English as their second language. The problem is that Air China is not doing enough to make sure their pilots can understand English.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 10):
Become an international pilot, and then your eyes will open up.

I listen to ATC. I don't need to become an International pilot to hear conversations between aircraft and towers.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 10):
which is typical of a person who does not understand how to get a simple message
across.

In that conversation you've what the controller has done out of context. The controller was not understood the first time which can mean a couple of things;

1) That there was not enough volume on the transmission at one end for the pilots to hear the controller or;
2) That the pilots did not understand what the controller told them.

So the controllers solution to these was to raise his voice to alleviate one possiblity and slow down his speaking to alleivate the other one. Considering how busy the average Controller is and the necessity of getting the message across quickly I don't see either of these two things as unreasonable.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 10):
They may have, but it may have been several months or years, each time I go to JFK I need to look at the charts carefully as it is not my home port, I just know which ramp I normally park at, but I am not familiar by any means with the taxiway network. To me it sounds like the pilot is trying to read the chart while doing the readback to find the specified path.

Either way the point is the same. The pilots should have been able to comprehend what that controller was telling them. Again it is the controllers job to make sure the aircraft goes where he wants it to go. That is what he is trying to do here.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 10):
JFK controllers are NOT clear

That controller on the youtube video is being VERY clear. Listen to it again. His english, although accented and maybe a little bit too fast when compared to other English speakers, is quite clear and unambiguous yet the pilots have trouble comprehending what they are being told even when he slows it down. That is a problem for the airline which the airline needs to help its pilots overcome.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 10):
Unless you have operated into JFK, I dont know from what basis you can make the observations you are making.

Yet another "if you've never done this you don't know what you're talking about." Can't win the argument so bag the opposition.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 10):
A lot of what he says is NOT standard, and it is NOT standard across the world to be on a ramp frequency and ground frequency at the same time like JFK.

Both beside the point. The point is that in THIS conversation with THIS controller the pilots SHOULD HAVE been able to comprehend what the controller was telling them. They couldn't so there is a problem.

I know where you're coming from Zeke, but you're being very biased against the Controller in assigning blame here. The pilots English comprehension should have been good enough to understand the controller in this conversation between ATC and the aircraft no matter what else is going on.


User currently offlineZeke From Hong Kong, joined Dec 2006, 8872 posts, RR: 75
Reply 12, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 7856 times:

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 11):

I know where you're coming from Zeke, but you're being very biased against the Controller in assigning blame here. The pilots English comprehension should have been good enough to understand the controller in this conversation between ATC and the aircraft no matter what else is going on.

You dont know where I am coming form at all, and as for Japanese, Koreans, South Americana, and Africans I heard a lot worse.

I am not bias against the controller, read pprune, lots of international pilots think the controlling in the USA is sub standard, it is not just my view, it is a common consensus of professionals working in the industry.

I think the Port Authority has a lot to answer for with this incident, Alpha and Mike Alpha should not be adjoining taxiways, it is difficult to read on the chart, and sounds too similar on the radio.

Every day I go flying I mainly work in areas where english is a second language for people, and I have not heard as many problems as we get in the states where controllers try and sound fast and slick, rather than stick to standard ICAO phraseology. I know at our airline we have cleaned up our act by forcing all pilots to use standard phraseology, and as a result we have had a measured substantial reduction in errors (measured in LOSA audits).

And I reiterate, if you have never operated into JFK, I dont see how you can have an informed opinion about JFK controllers or procedures, and I dont see how you can have an informed opinion about Air China from listening to ONE recording.



We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking – Santosh Kalwar
User currently offlineTristarSteve From Sweden, joined Nov 2005, 3982 posts, RR: 34
Reply 13, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days 7 hours ago) and read 7806 times:

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 9):
Are you kidding me? Are you telling me that directing a plane to make a "right turn" to " hold short" to ask "have you been cleared into the gate" and to "hold your position" are not standard phraseology at airport around the world?

Well I found it confusing when I watched the CNN clip. Being asked 'Have you been cleared into the gate' is not common outside the USA. Foreign pilots are taught aviation English, and in ATC there is a standard set of commands that is used all over the world. This phrase is not one of them and I have every sympathy with the poor pilots.
Here in Europe the ATC Ground controller will clear you to the gate, not ask you if you have been cleared by someone else.


User currently offlineAaron747 From Japan, joined Aug 2003, 8021 posts, RR: 26
Reply 14, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 7688 times:

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 9):
I also doubt your claim about US flagged aircraft. Sure in some parts of the non-English speaking world pilots from English speaking backgrounds would have to slow down their speech and clearly enunciate words to get their meaning across to controllers but that would go with the territory. Experienced pilots from all airlines would be used to doing this.

That's not what Zeke is talking about - he's emphasizing the fact that Americans don't follow protocol as a matter of course.

Experienced pilots from US airlines routinely say whatever the hell they want as if they were talking to Joe Friendly ATC back home. The use of non-standard phraseology is endemic with US flight crews. Try listening to ATC here in Japan sometime and you'll get the picture.

Just last weekend when I was shooting at NGO I heard something like the following: "Northwest 78, Centrair Tower, hold short of runway 36 report when ready." NW78: "Northwest 78, roger, we'll call you in a few". English tests or not, you simply can't expect a Japanese controller to understand throwaway colloquial language in the ATC environment.

Not to mention a later China Airlines flight I heard had an American or Canadian up front who called the tower to report a 7-mile final with 'Hello Nagoya Tower'...they didn't even repeat the tower's name back correctly.

[Edited 2007-07-08 12:14:34]


If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty
User currently onlineSydscott From Australia, joined Oct 2003, 2922 posts, RR: 20
Reply 15, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 7591 times:

Quoting Zeke (Reply 12):
You dont know where I am coming form at all, and as for Japanese, Koreans, South Americana, and Africans I heard a lot worse.

Zeke you are emphasising a generalised dislike of US ATC which I also read at the board. Which is fine. The problem is that in that conversation which is posted directly above the pilots should have been able to comprehend what ATC was telling them when it was repeated nice and slow for them. You are talking the general and I am talking specifically about this case. The pilots here, when it was repeated to them should have been able to understand what they were told. They could not. That is a problem.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 12):
I am not bias against the controller

Your defensive posts of the pilots here would tend to indicate a dislike of US ATC and, ergo, the Controller. Hence this situation of the pilots not understanding him is all the Controllers fault and not the pilots. That is the general tone of your posts.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 12):
Mike Alpha should not be adjoining taxiways

The pilot got that he was to take Alpha correctly. The problem was he interpreted Mike Alpha as November. I can understand him getting that wrong the first time the Controller said that to him because he spoke quite fast. However the second time the controller very clearly said Mike Alpha with the emphasis on Mike. The pilot couldn't comprehend him the 2nd time so the controller had to say it even more slowly and more clearly enunciated a 3rd time. The pilot was listening to ATC but wasn't hearing what they were saying. That is a problem.

Quoting Zeke (Reply 12):
Every day I go flying I mainly work in areas where english is a second language for people, and I have not heard as many problems as we get in the states where controllers try and sound fast and slick, rather than stick to standard ICAO phraseology.

Yet you and your fellow pilots probably have substantial experience in dealing with this. Would you interpret "Mike Alpha" as "November" on the 2nd time that controller said it? If ATC asked you a question, even if it is non-standard, and then repeated it back slower as a question would you interpret that as a clearance to proceed?

Quoting Zeke (Reply 12):
I dont see how you can have an informed opinion about Air China from listening to ONE recording.

I have no opinions about Air China. I have never and probably will never fly with them. But this incident has highlighted a deficiency in their pilot core being able to comprehend English commands even when it is slowed down for them. Surely that highlights a problem? (And you're going to say no because the Controllers should have stuck to standard commands.)

Quoting Zeke (Reply 12):
I dont see how you can have an informed opinion about JFK controllers or procedures

We are not discussing JFK Controllers or procedures here. We are discussing a conversation between 1 controller and 1 Air China set of pilots in which the English comprehension skills of the pilots is in question. Whether or not it is symptomatic of a bigger problem at Air China is not for me to say.

Quoting TristarSteve (Reply 13):
Being asked 'Have you been cleared into the gate' is not common outside the USA.

They weren't cleared but they thought they were. If you had a crew that quite clearly did not understand what you had said to them before wouldn't you double check to make sure they had appropriate clearances before they proceeded? It may not be standard procedure but in this specific case surely it was warranted so the Controllers knew the Air China aircraft wasn't going to go or be somewhere that it shouldn't be? Isn't that part of ATC's basic function?

Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 14):
English tests or not, you simply can't expect a Japanese controller to understand throwaway colloquial language in the ATC environment.

Nor would I. In that scenario I'd have thought that the pilot would know better because, again, they should have taken into consideration where they were and who they were talking to. So if there was a communication breakdown or mis-interpretation between tower and ATC those Northwest pilots would have clearly been in the wrong for not communicating appropriately with the tower.

Quoting Aaron747 (Reply 14):
who called the tower to report a 7-mile final with 'Hello Nagoya Tower'

Well that's just plain stupid. Again, if you're flying into Japan you'd expect Controllers who would not have English as a first language and make allowances.


User currently offlineZeke From Hong Kong, joined Dec 2006, 8872 posts, RR: 75
Reply 16, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 7441 times:

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 15):
The problem is that in that conversation which is posted directly above the pilots should have been able to comprehend what ATC was telling them when it was repeated nice and slow for them

How do you know what else was going on in the cockpit at the time ?

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 15):
The pilots here, when it was repeated to them should have been able to understand what they were told. They could not. That is a problem.

How do you know that ?

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 15):
Your defensive posts of the pilots here would tend to indicate a dislike of US ATC and, ergo, the Controller. Hence this situation of the pilots not understanding him is all the Controllers fault and not the pilots. That is the general tone of your posts.

And you are talking about a controller that would handle Air China and other Asian carriers every shift, and he still talks to them like they were based in JFK, he should know better. You were very quick to say that the pilots should make allowances for controllers.

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 15):

Yet you and your fellow pilots probably have substantial experience in dealing with this. Would you interpret "Mike Alpha" as "November" on the 2nd time that controller said it? If ATC asked you a question, even if it is non-standard, and then repeated it back slower as a question would you interpret that as a clearance to proceed?

You missed the point, which is easy to do since you never have operated into JFK, taxiways A, B, MA, MB, Q, N, NA all intersect on the same corner, taxiway A intersects with about 30 taxiways.

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 15):
Whether or not it is symptomatic of a bigger problem at Air China is not for me to say.

You already have by saying only so many have passed a test, not knowing that the test has only recently been introduced (within the last 6-12 months), and I dare say most carriers would have similar levels of testing.

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 15):

They weren't cleared but they thought they were. If you had a crew that quite clearly did not understand what you had said to them before wouldn't you double check to make sure they had appropriate clearances before they proceeded?

How on earth do you know what the crew thought ?

How do you know what the ramp controller had said to them ? it is not part of that recording....as I said before the pilots are listening and transmitting on to two frequencies at once....that in itself is yet another recipe for disaster.



We are addicted to our thoughts. We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking – Santosh Kalwar
User currently offlineAaron747 From Japan, joined Aug 2003, 8021 posts, RR: 26
Reply 17, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 7387 times:

Quoting Sydscott (Reply 15):

Nor would I. In that scenario I'd have thought that the pilot would know better because, again, they should have taken into consideration where they were and who they were talking to. So if there was a communication breakdown or mis-interpretation between tower and ATC those Northwest pilots would have clearly been in the wrong for not communicating appropriately with the tower.

So then, by extension, it's impossible to place blame entirely on the Air China crew when the JFK ground controller was clearly using a whole slew of colloquial language unsuitable for crews that have to endure all night study sessions to merely be able to understand and commit to memory ICAO phraseology exam material.



If you need someone to blame / throw a rock in the air / you'll hit someone guilty
User currently offlineCX flyboy From Hong Kong, joined Dec 1999, 6588 posts, RR: 55
Reply 18, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days ago) and read 7335 times:

I have to side TOWARDS Zeke in this. I do think that the Air China pilot should have better English. It is a problem that the Chinese authorities recognise and are working to improve, but things like this take time. English is a second language for those pilots and their English standards do have some way to go before they are as proficient as many other pilots in the world. Thats a legitimate excuse of those pilots. What excuse does the controller have?

In the example above, we hear the controllers getting frustrated and although they try to be a little bit clear, they really aren't. We see similar things in Hong Kong from time to time and the controllers are very tolerant and savy to these problems. They slow down every word and syllable and speak as if they are speaking to a child.....the pilots understand, and problem resolved. This isn't a perfect world and there is no such thing as a perfect pilot, perfect company or perfect controller. We must all work with what we have got, and do our best to resolve problems as we come across the best that we can. I was not in that Air China cockpit and I do not know what was going on, but I am willing to bet that they were doing their best to resolve their problem. I would say that the controlller was not doing his best.

Zeke has taken the opportunity to have a rant about US controllers and the lax standards of SOME American pilots. I will agree 100%. Standard just is not something which features in their operation. We come from an airline which makes a big deal of saying "Flaps 1" versus "Flap 1". Overly pedantic maybe, but standardisation is of extreme importance in aviation and with good reason. US controllers and pilots can be extremely non-standard and when dealing with other Americans they get away with it. They get away with a lot and in the big scheme of things, they deal with very few pilots with English as a second language, especially Asian pilots. As with Zeke, I fly all over the world and to many countries where using standard phrases is what saves us from a situation becoming more troublesome than it already is. These controllers and pilots are not perfect everywhere but they do the best with what they are given. Sure we fly to some other places where airlines and controllers can be pretty bad, but the way I see it, in the great land of USA they have no excuse whatsoever.


User currently offlineSaab2000 From Switzerland, joined Jun 2001, 1610 posts, RR: 11
Reply 19, posted (7 years 3 weeks 2 days ago) and read 7279 times:

Zeke is correct here.

When I was doing my JAA certificates I had to take a "Voice" course. What a joke I thought!! After all, my native language is English. What can the Swiss teach me as an American???? Well, plenty it turns out!!

There are many positive things about US ATC. But their clarity and use of standard phrasology is not one of them. I have seen many cases of confusion due solely to the lack of standard wordings and clear annunciation. By the FAA controllers.

Once a BA 747 landed at IAD and the controller mumbled, 'SpeedbirdXXXtakethenexthighspeedcontactgroundpointniner". The guy didn't understand and asked several times for a repeat of the instruction. Finally, the controller more or less shouted at the guy "SPEEDBIRDXXXTAKETHENEXTHIGHSPEEDCONTACTGROUNDPOINTNINER". Oddly, getting louder and speaking faster did not clear it up.....

Well, "Point Niner" is not in any phraseology book I know of. WTF? The proper thing is "Contact Ground on One Twenty One Decimal Niner". Especially for visiting carriers. Without the knowledge of local (US) usage, how could any pilot be expected to have understood? It works fine when all the flights are US Americans used to the system, but big international airports like JFK and LAX and IAD (worst ATC I have ever had) should be held to the highest standards.

Also, I agree that I have heard some US carriers in European airspace which were also very hard to understand. Not all, but some.

When I asked my Swiss mentor why I need to take a voice course he told me it was so that a Portuguese controller could talk to a Russian or French or Japanese pilot and expect that they understand what they are being told.

In addition to poor annunciation and improper use of slang on the US ATC side of things, many controllers are very unresponsive and slow to key their mike. This results in FAR more blocked signals than I ever had in Europe.

There are exceptions. Chicago ARTCC and Tower and Ground are the best controllers I have ever worked with. London is also excellent.

Proper annunciation, slowing down just a bit, less slang, etc would go a long way to increase safety and reduce incidents involving communication. Clarity of communication is critical to safety.

BTW, French as an approved ICAO language. The US is an ICAO member. How would anyone feel if, when landing at CDG, the controllers issued all instructions not only in French, but in their slang-filled ATC? Chaos would ensue. CDG uses standard phraseology in English and French and it is a slick airport.



smrtrthnu
User currently offlineCloudyapple From Hong Kong, joined Jul 2005, 2454 posts, RR: 10
Reply 20, posted (7 years 3 weeks 1 day 23 hours ago) and read 7179 times:

Quoting Zeke (Reply 7):
All he needs to do it to speak clearly, and slowly using standard phraseology, not raise his voice and speak faster.

Zeke, I thought we have gone through this exact same one once before? Like here:
RE: Is Time For Chinese Pilot To Learn Some English. (by Zeke Apr 14 2007 in Civil Aviation)#80

Quoting CX flyboy (Reply 18):
We see similar things in Hong Kong from time to time and the controllers are very tolerant and savy to these problems.

Thank you. I think in terms of credentials, we have the most visiting Chinese pilots amongst all the airports/FIRs in the whole wide world outside of China. We have also the pleasure of hosting other non-native english speakers such as Japaneses, Koreans, Russians, Thais and Americans. If one wants to learn how to deal with them most efficiently then Hong Kong is the place to visit.

Quoting CX flyboy (Reply 18):
They slow down every word and syllable and speak as if they are speaking to a child.....the pilots understand, and problem resolved.

You nailed it there. Be tolerant, slow down, keep calm, stick to standard phraseologies, do not hesitate to repeat, and have a plan B ready!

Quoting CX flyboy (Reply 18):
Overly pedantic maybe, but standardisation is of extreme importance in aviation and with good reason.

Never too pedantic in an environment where safety is paramount. If you want to minimize risks, standardization is one of the keys.



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User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4749 posts, RR: 26
Reply 21, posted (7 years 3 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 6870 times:

I used to be an air traffic controller and had to deal with many accents in my lifetime. In a way I can empathise with what is going on here. Trying to understand each other in a very stressful environment where time REALLY waits for no man.

However, I have come to realise that raising one's voice and repeating the same command isn't going to help. Because if he didn't understand the first time round, he will not understand it the 2nd time. This is when using standard phraseology comes in to save the day. Simple commands like the full "contact ground control on freq one-two-one decimal five", although a mouthful, will save you a lot of time rather than repeating some non-standard mambo jumbo a few times.

One of a few occasions I had to break protocol and scream into the mike was when an aircraft that was told to "land long" due to some contruction at the start of the runway. However, the pilot (for some reasons unknown) headed straight towards a normal landing glideslope which sent the workers on the runway running for their lives. It was a Thai aircraft and part of my fault was not ensuring that the pilot understood the instructions to "land long".

Lessons learnt, and I was extra careful with Thai aircrafts from then on.

Hence, instructions, when passed using standard texts, can be understood. If not, just pray really hard and work to cover your ass while on the hot seat.



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