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Why Doesn't Icao Let ATCs Talk In Native Tongue?  
User currently offlinegoblin211 From United States of America, joined Jun 2010, 1209 posts, RR: 0
Posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 6 hours ago) and read 9789 times:

It's my understanding it's illegal yet it's still done. Why is that? Shouldn't a French pilot be able to talk to a french controller in French and get the same info across, for example?


From the airport with love
75 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinetullamarine From Australia, joined Aug 1999, 1510 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 9797 times:

English is the international standard. In a continent like Europe where many different languages are spoken within a fairly small area, allowing each country to use their own language would be dangerous.


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User currently offlineBMI727 From United States of America, joined Feb 2009, 15713 posts, RR: 26
Reply 2, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 9795 times:

Quoting goblin211 (Thread starter):
Shouldn't a French pilot be able to talk to a french controller in French and get the same info across, for example?

They do. And it rarely, if ever, seems to cause a problem.



Why do Aerospace Engineering students have to turn things in on time?
User currently offlineTomassjc From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 837 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 9778 times:
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Quoting goblin211 (Thread starter):
It's my understanding it's illegal yet it's still done

In most all Latin American Countries...Spanish ATC conversation is the norm.

[Edited 2011-06-13 20:55:48]


When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the Earth with your eyes turned skyward -Leonardo DaVinci
User currently offlinegigneil From United States of America, joined Nov 2002, 16347 posts, RR: 85
Reply 4, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 9768 times:

Quoting goblin211 (Thread starter):
It's my understanding it's illegal yet it's still done. Why is that? Shouldn't a French pilot be able to talk to a french controller in French and get the same info across, for example?

Its important to hear what's going on with other airliners in your area, in general, but French is an allowable language.

NS


User currently offlineflymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7105 posts, RR: 9
Reply 5, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 9689 times:

You will hear all over ATC and local pilots speaking in their native languages. But at the major aiports and airspace it is not as common especially airports which get a lot of international flights from around the world. For example a small airport in Japan might have pilots speaking Japanesse but in NRT you will here only English. It seems that South America is the area of the world which gets away from English the most. But it is still a requirment for all pilots and air traffic controllers to have good english skills anywhere in the world. It is a safety hazard for an AF flight to CDG to be speaking french when an AA and LH flight are also on the same frequency and would like to know whats going on.


"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21490 posts, RR: 56
Reply 6, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 9661 times:

Quoting flymia (Reply 5):
For example a small airport in Japan might have pilots speaking Japanesse but in NRT you will here only English.

Which is sensible, since it's not practical for people who are pilots only recreationally to have to learn English in addition to all the skills needed to learn how to fly an airplane.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineDiamondFlyer From United States of America, joined Oct 2008, 1503 posts, RR: 3
Reply 7, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 9635 times:

Situational Awareness. I for one, very much like to know what the planes around me are doing, so that I know what's going on big picture. Without a single language, this would be impossible.

-DiamondFlyer


User currently offlineflymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7105 posts, RR: 9
Reply 8, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 5 hours ago) and read 9575 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 6):
Which is sensible, since it's not practical for people who are pilots only recreationally to have to learn English in addition to all the skills needed to learn how to fly an airplane.

Well I think it is fair and fine. But I am actually not sure if private pilots in other countries need to know english at least at a certain level. Since those pilots may have to go to a buiser airport one day or if they want to fly internationally I would imagine it is a requriment for all pilots even private pilots to speak some English. I really have no idea though. Anyone have an answer for this?
Does say a PPL in Argentina need to pass some english test to get his or her PPL? I would imagine yes or maybe it is different by country. I cant imagine any pilot in Europe not knowing English. Are JAA PPL test etc.. In English?



"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21490 posts, RR: 56
Reply 9, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 4 hours ago) and read 9423 times:

Quoting flymia (Reply 8):
Since those pilots may have to go to a buiser airport one day or if they want to fly internationally I would imagine it is a requriment for all pilots even private pilots to speak some English. I really have no idea though. Anyone have an answer for this?

The US has started to put "English Proficient" on pilot certificates, and this is apparently a requirement from ICAO to allow pilots to fly internationally. So I'd imagine that a French pilot who can only speak French would be restricted to flying in France, for instance. But I don't know for sure.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlinedw747400 From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 1257 posts, RR: 1
Reply 10, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 9321 times:

Quoting DiamondFlyer (Reply 7):
Situational Awareness. I for one, very much like to know what the planes around me are doing, so that I know what's going on big picture. Without a single language, this would be impossible.

        

More than once I've been in a situation where a controller either forgot about me where hearing a conversation with another aircraft provided valuable information to avoid a dangerous situation. One of many examples: a local airport has a single ILS approach, so it isn't uncommon for traffic to be departing in one direction while practice approaches are conducted in the opposite direction. In this case, the controller simply forgot about us and cleared another aircraft to takeoff when we were only a few hundred feet above DH. Hearing and understanding that call allowed me to break off the approach.

Had the conversation been in a language I'm unfamiliar with, we might have continued down to decision height. In all likelyhood my safety pilot would have spotted the oncoming aircraft, but flying is all about mitigating risk. The more redundancies you have, the better.



CFI--Certfied Freakin Idiot
User currently onlinegarpd From UK - Scotland, joined Aug 2005, 2609 posts, RR: 4
Reply 11, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 9296 times:

Quoting BMI727 (Reply 2):

They do. And it rarely, if ever, seems to cause a problem.

Tell that to the family of a British pilot killed in France when an Air Liberté MD80 wing sliced through his cockpit taking his head off.
All the pilots, ground and tower were talking in French. The Brit had no way to know that ground control cleared him to taxi over the same runway the Air Liberté plane was clear to take off on.

ATC official language is a single language for a reason. It also means pilots need only need to learn one additional language if English is not their native.



arpdesign.wordpress.com
User currently onlineMax Q From United States of America, joined May 2001, 4357 posts, RR: 19
Reply 12, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 3 hours ago) and read 9257 times:

Quoting garpd (Reply 11):

Tell that to the family of a British pilot killed in France when an Air Liberté MD80 wing sliced through his cockpit taking his head off.
All the pilots, ground and tower were talking in French. The Brit had no way to know that ground control cleared him to taxi over the same runway the Air Liberté plane was clear to take off on.

ATC official language is a single language for a reason. It also means pilots need only need to learn one additional language if English is not their native.

Well said. English is the official language and it should be used by everyone for many reasons, the above example is a good reason why.


Realistically you're not going to stop people talking in their native tongue but it's not 'harmless' at all


Knowing what's going on with all the other Aircraft around you is vital and can prevent dangerous or even tragic events from happening.


It's impossible to develop this 'mental picture' if you cannot understand what the other Pilots and controllers are saying.



The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
User currently offlineAustrianZRH From Austria, joined Aug 2007, 1362 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 9225 times:

Reminds me of this one:

Allegedly, a Pan Am 727 flight waiting for start clearance in Munich overheard the following:
Lufthansa (in German): "Ground, what is our start clearance time?"
Ground (in English): "If you want an answer you must speak in English."
Lufthansa (in English): "I am a German, flying a German airplane, in Germany. Why must I speak English?"
Unknown voice from another plane (in a beautiful British accent): "Because you lost the bloody war."



WARNING! The post above should be taken with a grain of salt! Furthermore, it may be slightly biased towards A.
User currently offlinetayser From Australia, joined Mar 2008, 1124 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 9114 times:

and what makes the comedy value even greater is that you're in/from Austria.  

User currently offlinenoelg From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 9085 times:

I've just watched a World Air Routes DVD of an Austrian A330 going to PEK.

On approach and landing to PEK the only conversations taking place in English were those to/from the Austrian A330. Everything else was in Mandarin. The A330 obviously had no clue what other traffic was about, or what they were doing, only what they had been cleared to themselves.

People have already lost their lives due to this taking place, but it is a major disaster waiting to happen.


User currently offlineNavigator From Sweden, joined Jul 2001, 1172 posts, RR: 14
Reply 16, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 9079 times:

Quoting flymia (Reply 8):
Does say a PPL in Argentina need to pass some english test to get his or her PPL? I would imagine yes or maybe it is different by country. I cant imagine any pilot in Europe not knowing English. Are JAA PPL test etc.. In English?

Normally the PPL is one thing and the radio licence another. You need a radio licence in english to be allowed to use a radio transmitter onboard a plane here in Sweden. You also need the radio licence in english to be allowed to fly IFR.

This said here in sweden locally but not on international airports all swedish pilots tend to use swedish.



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User currently offlineAustrianZRH From Austria, joined Aug 2007, 1362 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 9032 times:

Quoting tayser (Reply 14):
and what makes the comedy value even greater is that you're in/from Austria.

:D. I'm quite grateful to the Allied and Associated Forces for getting rid of our megalomaniac leader  . Even if it means our pilots have to talk English  .



WARNING! The post above should be taken with a grain of salt! Furthermore, it may be slightly biased towards A.
User currently offlineAF1624 From France, joined Jul 2006, 653 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 9000 times:

If I remember correctly there are more than one ICAO languages.

French and Spanish are two of them. Russian too I think.

This means that it is perfectly, erm, "legal" to speak French to a French controller when in France.

And perfectly "legal" to speak Spanish to a Spanish controller in Spain.

Etc.

Technically, but this is not observed I'm afraid, when the language spoken in a certain country is not considered as an "ICAO" language, every ATC comm in that country should be done in English because English is the language of reference. Of course, it rarely happens, if ever.

The ICAO also states that there is one unique language that every pilot and controller should be able to speak almost fluently and that is English.

Finally, I would say that :

- When a French pilot is in a French international airport speaking to a French controller, he *should* speak English because he's surrounded by English speaking crews. Not a rule, but a courtesy. And a safety measure as well.

- When an English speaking pilot is in France he should understand that *some* French will be spoken and he should take adequate measures to prevent accidents from happening as a result of his lack of comprehension. The "everyone on earth should speak English" attitude is plain wrong.



Cheers
User currently offlineAustrianZRH From Austria, joined Aug 2007, 1362 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 8983 times:

Quoting AF1624 (Reply 18):
The "everyone on earth should speak English" attitude is plain wrong.

But there needs to be standardization. Or would you expect an AF short haul pilot to be able to understand
Portuguese
Spanish
Italian
Greek
Serbocroatian
Romanian
Bulgarian
Hungarian
Czech
Slovakian
Slovenian
German
Dutch
Danish
Swedish
Finnish
Russian
.
.
.
.

Somewhat impractical, isn't it?



WARNING! The post above should be taken with a grain of salt! Furthermore, it may be slightly biased towards A.
User currently offlinePITrules From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 3120 posts, RR: 4
Reply 20, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 8954 times:

Quoting goblin211 (Thread starter):
It's my understanding it's illegal yet it's still done. Why is that? Shouldn't a French pilot be able to talk to a french controller in French and get the same info across, for example?

There is no such requirement for English to be spoken to all pilots. Local controllers may legally speak to local pilots in their native language all day long. However, when 'a non-native' pilot speaks to a local controller in English, that controller is required to be able to communicate ICAO standard phraseology in English (about 300-400 words).

Quoting garpd (Reply 11):

Tell that to the family of a British pilot killed in France when an Air Liberté MD80 wing sliced through his cockpit taking his head off.
All the pilots, ground and tower were talking in French. The Brit had no way to know that ground control cleared him to taxi over the same runway the Air Liberté plane was clear to take off on.

If he had no idea he was cleared to do so, then why did the Brit taxi on or across an active runway? Furthermore, it would seem that the Air Liberte aircraft would be on tower frequency while the Brit was on ground frequency - so they wouldn't be hearing each other anyway.



I've flown into South America while using English ICAO standard phrases, and it usually works well. However, there have been the occasions when a more complex conversation needed to take place, such as the pre-departure determination of the amount of runway contamination after a heavy downpour. This was a major airport; but English communication was not getting the point across. The Captain was fluent in Spanish, and a quick conversation in the local language answered our concerns.

I can see both sides of the argument.



FLYi
User currently offlineFlySSC From United States of America, joined Aug 2003, 7402 posts, RR: 57
Reply 21, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 8948 times:

Quoting tullamarine (Reply 1):
English is the international standard.

  

Official ICAO languages are English, French, Spanish & Russian.

Montreal ATC :

Enjoy !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlT-UMLJSlQ


User currently offlineNavigator From Sweden, joined Jul 2001, 1172 posts, RR: 14
Reply 22, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 8915 times:

Quoting AF1624 (Reply 18):
Technically, but this is not observed I'm afraid, when the language spoken in a certain country is not considered as an "ICAO" language, every ATC comm in that country should be done in English because English is the language of reference. Of course, it rarely happens, if ever.

I do not think you are correct here. ICAO-rules form the framework for all aviation no matter where you are. Local languages may be spoken locally in a country like Sweden also.

Pursuant to requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), ATC operations are conducted either in the English language or the language used by the station on the ground. In practice, the native language for a region is normally used, however the English language must be used upon request.

The local language may be used in Sweden like you use french in France. But on request from airplanes ATC-communications should be made in english. However in Sweden swedish is never used by IFR-flights at international airports like Stockholm - Arlanda, Gothenburg - Landvetter etc like you do in France where even Air France uses french at Charles de Gaulle.



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User currently offlineslz396 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days ago) and read 8863 times:

This topic pops up every so many months and it's actually quite amuzing to see how people don't seem to learn from the previous topics.

Contrary to what many think, English is not the sole official language of ICAO: in fact, ICAO has 4 OFFICIAL languages: English, French, Spanish & Russian, with Arabic and Chinese pressing for full parity too, BTW.

As all 4 (soon 6) are equal in status, ATC may be conducted in any of those according to ICAO, so whever you hear French in France or Central Africa, of Spanish in Spain or South America, they are in their right to do so indeed, although most non-English ATC units also offer the possiblity to use English...

However, keep in mind that this is no formal requirement from ICAO to always offer English too: for instance, in Russia, there are several routes/airports which are RUSSIAN only, so if you don't have the qualification or don't have anybody on board who can translate for you, you're not entitled to fly the route... simple as that and perfectly legal too.

Amazing to see how so many (often native English speakers) always assume their language must take priority over others, where in fact it is nothing but a matter of courtesy English is almost always offered next to one of the other official languages in those countries which happen to speak one of the other official ICAO languages, just because countries that do not speak any of the official languages all happen to select English as their language of choice.

Besides, the argument all should use the same language for situational awareness is a mute one, since with increasing use of data link clearances in bussy airspaces/airports, pilots are pretty much unaware of what's going on with neighbouring traffic anyway.

[Edited 2011-06-14 02:06:24]

User currently offlineNavigator From Sweden, joined Jul 2001, 1172 posts, RR: 14
Reply 24, posted (3 years 1 month 1 week 2 days ago) and read 8819 times:

Quoting slz396 (Reply 23):
Amazing to see how so many (often native English speakers) always assume their language must take priority over others, where in fact it is nothing but a matter of courtesy English is almost always offered next to one of the other official languages in those countries which happen to speak one of the other official ICAO languages, just because countries that do not speak any of the official languages all happen to select English as their language of choice.

You are not correct. English does take priority over other languages in ALL international airports all over the world according to ICAO rules.

On pilots request according to ICAO regulations english is to take priority over any other language. Look at my post before yours.

ICAO does not expect swedish controllers to speak french on request from pilots but they do expect or even demand english on request in any country. This is the same in any country with international air traffic according to ICAO.

Those official languages you talk about are not at all required in ATC communication outside those countries. The worldwide language required in ATC is english!!

[Edited 2011-06-14 02:28:39]


747-400/747-200/L1011/DC-10/DC-9/DC-8/MD-80/MD90/A340/A330/A300/A310/A321/A320/A319/767/757/737/727/HS-121/CV990/CV440/S
25 garpd : You misunderstand. The British pilots had been cleared by ground/tower to taxi over the runway. They did not know however, that the Air Liberté plan
26 Post contains images slz396 : There is no formal requirement for any FIR to offfer ATC in English, not even if one is accepting international traffic. There are several exemples o
27 slz396 : That's like saying had the Brits not been unilingual, there might have been a chance they would have somehow grasped the essence of the French ATC cl
28 Navigator : You are wrong. There is such a requirement in ICAO rules when it comes to areas accepting international traffic. Upon pilots request ATC-communicatio
29 Navigator : Not in ATC english. English is a priority all other languges are second. Those official languages you refer to have nothing to do with ATC use in pra
30 slz396 : No you are wrong, I am afraid. If a FIR wants to open up to foreign traffic (meaning traffic unable to speak the local language), then it needs to of
31 Post contains images Navigator : OK maybe you are right but you have not shown the rules you are referring to, (and to be honest nor have I), I accept that but as a practice english i
32 slz396 : Nope, only in those FIRs where it is explicitly stated as such... There are FIRs which are open to international traffic yet which do not offer Engli
33 sebolino : I think it would be nice to have some sort of common protocol to send informations/orders electronically to the onboard computer which could display i
34 slz396 : To that most certainly I agree, which is why I said there's certainly a 'de facto' situation of English first, but all too many people automatically
35 Post contains images Navigator : OK I see where you are pointing and I understand the rules now even if you have not shown them to me. Maybe you straightened out the rules now but as
36 AirNZ : As long as you remember it's a standard, and not an international legal requirement. As long as a country provides ATC in a chosen language that is p
37 Post contains links Navigator : I think this text referring to ICAO rules regarding ATC COM could come in handy: The new policy has come about as a result of a number of changes in I
38 slz396 : Oh yes, please don't get me wrong! I have no issue with the predominant use of English in ATC at all, but I merely wanted to point out that some more
39 Post contains images GAIsweetGAI : That's pretty much the case. In order to be able to fly as PIC outside of France, pilots who have a French PPL need to pass a test they call FCL 1.02
40 slz396 : That is correct indeed; there are numerous airports in France where COMS are conducted in French only, so if you hold a foreign license yet you do no
41 Navigator : I think I come back to the situation we had when we started discussing. I have checked ICAO Annexe 10 which by the way is compulsory in international
42 garpd : Understanding phrases in a foreign language when spoken directly to you is possible yes. But radio chatter can be fast, unclear and colloquial. I agr
43 DLPMMM : FYI, the term is moot, meaning of no consequence, not mute, which means unable to speak or quiet. I have seen this same error by a lot of native engl
44 Post contains links Navigator : I agree and on contrary to some of what is said here ICAO Annexe 10 clearly says english has to be provided to international pilots in international
45 omerlich : In Israel,LY pilots are banned from speaking hebrew and are demanded by LY managment to converse in english only.
46 Cubsrule : I have a dumb question for our European friends: for a carrier like AF or LH, how many pilots are natives or speak the native tongue? I assume that, l
47 Navigator : I have a friend flying the 747-400 for Lufthansa and he is swedish but has a german father and he speaks german fluently. Lufthansa requires pilots t
48 Kaiarahi : Here we go again! Wrong! ICAO Annex 1: "Language to be used: The air-ground radiotelephony communications shall be conducted in the language normally
49 garpd : You conveniently left out the contributory factors, of which one is: - The use of two languages for radio communications, which meant that the Shorts
50 twinotter : How do you know it "rarely, if ever" seems to cause a problem? Do you poll every pilot and every ATC continually to check?
51 txkf2010 : Canada is doing this as well
52 FlySSC : AF has several pilots originating from other EU countries (a lot Belgians, of ex-SABENA pilots, but aso many Italiens and Spanish) but they have to s
53 Kaiarahi : We've had this discussion many times - I was merely correcting the impression you left that language was the cause of the accident. In the interests
54 Navigator : Fantastic!! Finally someone understood. You can not just pick any other "official ICAO language" in any country as ATC language as someone said. It i
55 Kaiarahi : You can use only the local language so long as you're not "serving designated airports and routes used by international air services".[Edited 2011-06
56 Navigator : You can use local languages at those also... It is just that those airports have to be able to use english if pilots want. "The English language shal
57 Kaiarahi : Exactly.
58 hal9213 : When I listened in to ATC radio in CDG a long time ago (something like Tower, not some ground stuff), there was honestly not a single word of English
59 AirPacific747 : AFAIK, ICAO has English, French, Russian and Spanish as official languages (as many others have stated already), but ICAO is a set of recommendations
60 Kaiarahi : You're confusing the languages of ICAO (used in its documents, meetings, etc) with the languages of ATC/coms. ICAO has 6 official languages - English
61 WABENNER : Pilots need to hear what is going on so that they can have a idea of where everyone is in the sky relative to their own aircraft and if another aircr
62 Post contains links Viscount724 : In Canada, both English and French can be used in ATC communications in the province of Quebec and in Ottawa. List of facilities providing both Englis
63 Post contains images nycdave : Well, the French still hold a bit of a cultural grudge that the "lingua franca" is no longer, er... the lingua Franca
64 flylku : Situational Awareness.
65 BMI727 : Frankly, what worries me more than different flights communicating in different languages is the sometimes subpar English skills of some crews. The in
66 9VSIO : Whatever happened to situational awareness?
67 Kaiarahi : [quote=WABENNER,reply=61]Pilots need to hear what is going on so that they can have a idea of where everyone is in the sky relative to their own aircr
68 Kaiarahi : Not to mention the non-standard phraseology and Brooklynese habitually used by JFK controllers.
69 Kaiarahi : As you may have gathered from this thread, it's not illegal. It's actually mandated by the Convention on International Civil Aviation.
70 Post contains links mabadia71 : Yes, in fact the English level in EZE, is border line null, which has cause some severe incidents http://youtu.be/VvrbMjDvcX8 Yes it is, I remember a
71 Post contains images GAIsweetGAI : In the case of AF, there's a university/school here in Toulouse - right down the road from where I am - that has a pilot curriculum: you enter with z
72 Flight152 : Totally incorrect. Getting the big picture on the radio (as others has mentioned) is key in situtational awareness.
73 Kaiarahi : Rubbish. And it's just as important for Spanish/French/Japanese/Chinese/Tagalog/Indonesian/Arabic etc pilots - right? English-speaking pilots do not
74 Post contains links Lorm : Two instances that good pilot situational awareness involving the understanding of radio communication and a combination of see and avoid methods wer
75 Post contains links mabadia71 : After doing some searching I found the accident which I make a reference to in my previous post. Source http://aviation-safety.net/database/...cord.p
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