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ATC Attitudes In The United States  
User currently offlineDFWJIM1 From United States of America, joined Sep 2011, 279 posts, RR: 0
Posted (10 months 4 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 7632 times:
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Hello everyone,

I enjoy listening to air traffic controllers at many large airports in the United States on a regular basis via liveatc.net and it seems like at some airports (DFW,ORD,AUS) the air traffic controllers are very helpful and enthusiastic while at other airports (MIA, FLL, LAX) not so much. Could this be due to poor relations with upper management, regional/cultural differences or is it just what is?

Thanks for your responses.

60 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2830 posts, RR: 45
Reply 1, posted (10 months 4 weeks 10 hours ago) and read 7565 times:

I largely don't agree with your list of "helpful" and "unhelpful" airport controllers (except for your appraisals of MIA and AUS, though I can think of numerous better examples in each category,) but everyone will have different opinions. Staffing, regional and cultural differences, facility management, and individual attitudes all play a part like in most professions. There are certainly places I loathe flying into in large part because of terrible ATC (e.g. JFK) and other places where I am virtually sure I will always be treated courteously. I don't know all the variables involved in ATC culture from a controller's viewpoint, but from a pilot's viewpoint I agree with you that there are genuine differences between facilities.

Interesting question.


User currently offlineSAAFNAV From South Africa, joined Mar 2010, 276 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (10 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 7546 times:

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 1):
terrible ATC (e.g. JFK) and other

Could you explain this? I've never flown there.

Erich



On-board Direction Consultant
User currently offlinegoboeing From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 2700 posts, RR: 15
Reply 3, posted (10 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 7543 times:

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 1):
There are certainly places I loathe flying into in large part because of terrible ATC (e.g. JFK)

I feel compelled to chime in here, reading this.

I find the difference between JFK and EWR to be night and day!

I don't know if comes from the top down at EWR or what, but what a bunch of courteous, calm professionals on the radio there, 100% of the time. Never raise their voice, never sound perturbed about repeating a clearance, always have your back by politely asking you to read back your clearance again if they think you didn't get it right, etc.

Meanwhile over at JFK and even LGA a little for that matter, I agree completely with you -- I think they absolutely earn their little sound clips on liveatc.net for a reason. They create their own mess and get flustered almost for the sake of it and it just unravels from there. Just terrible.


User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2830 posts, RR: 45
Reply 4, posted (10 months 4 weeks 9 hours ago) and read 7515 times:

Quoting SAAFNAV (Reply 2):
Could you explain this? I've never flown there.

Goboeing covered it perfectly. I completely agree with his assessment. JFK repeatedly over my 23 years flying in and out of there has the rudest, least professional controllers of any factilty in the US...Scratch that: of any faciility I have ever been to in any country.

Quoting goboeing (Reply 3):
I don't know if comes from the top down at EWR or what, but what a bunch of courteous, calm professionals on the radio there, 100% of the time. Never raise their voice, never sound perturbed about repeating a clearance, always have your back by politely asking you to read back your clearance again if they think you didn't get it right, etc.

Meanwhile over at JFK and even LGA a little for that matter, I agree completely with you -- I think they absolutely earn their little sound clips on liveatc.net for a reason. They create their own mess and get flustered almost for the sake of it and it just unravels from there. Just terrible.


User currently offlineflymia From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7187 posts, RR: 9
Reply 5, posted (10 months 4 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 7416 times:

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 1):
(except for your appraisals of MIA and AUS, though I can think of numerous better examples in each category,)

From pilots who fly there often what are the perceptions of MIA. I have never heard anything which has seemed poor from MIA tower/ground while listening online or anything from Miami approach while listen online or even from my limited experience flying in the airspace.



"It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
User currently offlinejetblueguy22 From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 2800 posts, RR: 4
Reply 6, posted (10 months 4 weeks ago) and read 7265 times:
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Quoting SAAFNAV (Reply 2):
Could you explain this? I've never flown there.

Take a listen to this http://youtu.be/7BMDkwfkXv0 . Granted it is one 10 minute clip where someone goofed. But the general attitude is the same across the board. I highly recommend listening to a couple of the JFK videos, they can be pretty interesting. Whenever I hear this controller on LiveATC I break out the popcorn, you know it is going to be a good show.

Quoting DFWJIM1 (Thread starter):
Could this be due to poor relations with upper management, regional/cultural differences or is it just what is?

Probably just a bunch of factors, stress may be a big one, or simply they may just not want to deal with you. I know when I hop into busier areas in a Cessna they seem to be annoyed. Whenever you fly into FAR you'd think they are letting you into the Minneapolis Class B when they are just a fair sized Class D.
Pat



You push down on that yoke, the houses get bigger, you pull back on the yoke, the houses get bigger- Ken Foltz
User currently offlineSpeedbird128 From Pitcairn Islands, joined Oct 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 7190 times:

Quoting SAAFNAV (Reply 2):
Could you explain this? I've never flown there.

As mentioned - youtube NY/JFK ATC. You'll find ample examples of how not to treat your customers...

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 4):
Goboeing covered it perfectly. I completely agree with his assessment. JFK repeatedly over my 23 years flying in and out of there has the rudest, least professional controllers of any factilty in the US...Scratch that: of any faciility I have ever been to in any country.

Even more sadly, and this coming from an active ATC, whenever I hear these JFK clips where the ATC is berating (or being just plain rude), I cringe.

The attitude. The tone. The sarcasm and mocking (and ultimate apparent rudeness). It all goes against everything I know and teach my students.

Quoting jetblueguy22 (Reply 6):
a good show

I think it is exactly that. I get the impression that they think they have an audience and they are the stand-up comedians. For instance, he wouldn't have to repeat a clearance 6 times (and then likely give the pilots a sarcastic comment/ bollocking) if it was understandable the first 5 times. Sometimes I get the impression its a little deliberate.

Its a pity really, as they are not the only busy centre in the world. Lots of centres handle lots of traffic, and they do it without the "comedians"...



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User currently onlineRyanairGuru From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 5625 posts, RR: 5
Reply 8, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 7175 times:

Quoting Speedbird128 (Reply 7):
The attitude. The tone. The sarcasm and mocking (and ultimate apparent rudeness)

That's what I've noticed about the JFK YouTube clips. Obviously they are a tiny, tiny sample of ones that were "noteworthy" enough to be posted, but JFK Tower/NY Approach is statistically over-represented and the "worse" ones that are on YouTube seem to be from there.

I know that JFK/NYC is very busy airspace, but by way of comparison I haven't found any egregious examples from, for example, LHR Tower/LON Approach. London is the busiest airspace in the world, and is probably a better comparison to JFK than Podunk, MN.


One thing I've noticed about US ATC generally is the speed at which they speak. I struggle to keep up, and I'm a native English speaker. I do feel sorry for foreign pilots (especially Asian pilots) when JFK Tower give them a good schalacking for not understanding a communication. There's even a video of a TOM pilot not understanding at SFB - a British pilot at a relatively quiet facility.



Worked Hard, Flew Right
User currently offlineSpeedbird128 From Pitcairn Islands, joined Oct 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 7159 times:

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 8):
I do feel sorry for foreign pilots (especially Asian pilots) when JFK Tower give them a good schalacking for not understanding a communication.

Exactly- if a non-native english speaker says "say again", then I always dial down the speed a notch or two. Personally, I try keep a reasonable speech rate all the time, because talking faster just doesn't save you time when you have to repeat everything 3 times...

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 8):
a tiny, tiny sample

That is true. It is a small sample - I am sure there are some fine professional ATC's at those centres. However they are let down by their colleagues...



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User currently offlineStitch From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 31059 posts, RR: 87
Reply 10, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 7126 times:
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As a Channel 9 listener on UA, I was always partial to the folks at Oakland Center. Always seemed to be in a good mood and possessed of both a sharp wit and sense of humor. Chicago Ground was always a hoot, as well, considering the chaos that is O'Hare when UA and AA have a shedload of ground movements in play.

User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 11, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 6905 times:

Great topic!

IMHO,management plays a huge part in many of the controllers attitude on the radio, work habits and over all happiness at work. A good management team from the Air Traffic Manager right down to the last Front Line Manager (Supervisor) and you'll find controllers and NATCA working hand in hand to make the facility operate smooth with little complaining (always some, it wouldn't be aviation if all were happy all the time) and a great work environment.

I've seen firsthand when a good ATM is in place and makes decisions with input from the entire workforce life is excellent, efficient and safe operation, everyone gets along and there is a mutual respect. Bring in a less than stellar ATM and/or FLM's who are micro managers and the place will go down the toilet in no time. That excellent control room becomes a room full of whining and it is clear to hear on the radio.

The nit picking ATM has no place in ATC, in most cases they haven't been on the floor in years if ever at the facility they manage. Let the controllers and those in the trenches who know best do their job and all will be able to detect a well run facility very quick.



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offlinemmedford From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 561 posts, RR: 8
Reply 12, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 6853 times:

Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 8):
One thing I've noticed about US ATC generally is the speed at which they speak. I struggle to keep up, and I'm a native English speaker. I do feel sorry for foreign pilots (especially Asian pilots) when JFK Tower give them a good schalacking for not understanding a communication.

That's the problem...

English is the official language of aviation...learn it.

JFK has one of the hardest ground control in the country; It has washed out more controllers than I can count.

If you are going to fly a $200m+ dollar plane around the world, be on top of your game. If you have a re-route, copy it the first time...it shouldn't require repeating it 3 times on frequency. You should know what gate and taxiway you need prior to your landing. Not struggling because your company can't clear the gate fast enough.



ILS = It'll Land Somewhere
User currently offlinemodesto2 From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 2805 posts, RR: 5
Reply 13, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 6795 times:

Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
You should know what gate and taxiway you need prior to your landing. Not struggling because your company can't clear the gate fast enough.

It should be that simple, but it's often far more complicated. Maybe you haven't flown into many class B airports, but in my experiences, there are certainly instances when gate assignments change, alleys are blocked, ground crews are late, and much more. I've "driven" in circles at LAX as we waited for alleys to clear while simultaneously receiving new gate assignments. It's not rocket science, but it can be more complicated than your post would lead someone to believe.


User currently offlinegoboeing From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 2700 posts, RR: 15
Reply 14, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 6796 times:

Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
JFK has one of the hardest ground control in the country; It has washed out more controllers than I can count.

Lots of class B airports wash out lots of controllers all the time. They don't act like a bunch of tools though. Only a few in that department. I'm sure the washout rate at EWR is just as high as JFK and yet they are so much more professional at what they do.

Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
If you are going to fly a $200m+ dollar plane around the world, be on top of your game.

Is anyone questioning whether the pilots are on top of their game?

Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
If you have a re-route, copy it the first time...it shouldn't require repeating it 3 times on frequency.

What type of re-route do you mean? A go back to clearance for new airways re-route? Or a change of taxi instructions from ground control? I guarantee anyone getting a clearance re-route is copying it down the first time. And if something requires repeating three times on frequency, it's probably ATC that has made it so. There's a lot going on in the cockpit not to mention the fact that it is in motion and as little time as possible is to be spent looking inside while moving (and the one taxiing essentially can do no more than quick glances at the charts until stopped).

Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
You should know what gate and taxiway you need prior to your landing.

If the ACARS is working.

And if it isn't, then if operations answers.

And if they do, then if they even know the gate.

etc.



I'll give an example of what I mean when I say JFK ATC sucks.

Some of them basically verbalize their own internal monologue over the frequency while they are figuring out what to do next.

JFK:"Let's see...who's coming out of taxiway bravo...that's gonna be jetBlue 461 I think...jetBlue 461 uhh, you know what disregard jetBlue, Delta 98 do you have a gate yet? [Delta has not been listening because the rambling voice on frequency sounded like they were giving someone else a long instruction]

DAL098: Delta 98, say again?

JFK: "Everybody's gotta listen up, it's very busy tonight. Delta 98, do you have a gate yet?"

DAL098: No sir.

JFK: "Okay tell you what I want you to do then, Delta 98, can you still make a left turn onto taxiway foxtrot from there?"

DAL098: Negative.

JFK: "Alright let's see I gotta move somebody, how 'bout Cactus 450 ahh disregard you're going over PARKE I'll call you back, American 755 I want you to follow the second CRJ in Delta colors from your left, follow the second CRJ from the left and then join taxiway bravo and give way to a Delta 757." [American has not been listening to rambling because it sounded like ATC was already talking to someone else]

AAL755: Say again ground was that for American 755?

...and so on.





The above at a normal airport goes like this:

ATC: Delta 98, do you have a gate assignment?
DAL098: Negative Delta 98.
ATC: Roger; left turn foxtrot if unable advise.
DAL098: Sorry, unable foxtrot from here.
ATC: Delta 98 roger; break; American 755, join bravo behind the second CRJ in Delta colors from your left and give way to a Delta 757.
AAL755: American 755 roger.



The JFK controllers, not all of them, and not 100% of the time, but overall, add an incredibly inappropriate amount of extra verbiage on the frequency and when there are items to cover on checklists or brief discussions of the taxi route going on in the cockpit, you have to filter out what is not being said to you on frequency at times, and it's a lot harder to filter a voice that doesn't SHUT UP once in a while! They create their own mess.


User currently onlineRyanairGuru From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 5625 posts, RR: 5
Reply 15, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6731 times:

Quoting goboeing (Reply 14):
I'll give an example of what I mean when I say JFK ATC sucks.

Some of them basically verbalize their own internal monologue over the frequency while they are figuring out what to do next.

JFK:"Let's see...who's coming out of taxiway bravo...that's gonna be jetBlue 461 I think...jetBlue 461 uhh, you know what disregard jetBlue, Delta 98 do you have a gate yet? [Delta has not been listening because the rambling voice on frequency sounded like they were giving someone else a long instruction]

DAL098: Delta 98, say again?

JFK: "Everybody's gotta listen up, it's very busy tonight. Delta 98, do you have a gate yet?"

DAL098: No sir.

JFK: "Okay tell you what I want you to do then, Delta 98, can you still make a left turn onto taxiway foxtrot from there?"

DAL098: Negative.

JFK: "Alright let's see I gotta move somebody, how 'bout Cactus 450 ahh disregard you're going over PARKE I'll call you back, American 755 I want you to follow the second CRJ in Delta colors from your left, follow the second CRJ from the left and then join taxiway bravo and give way to a Delta 757." [American has not been listening to rambling because it sounded like ATC was already talking to someone else]

AAL755: Say again ground was that for American 755?

...and so on.





The above at a normal airport goes like this:

ATC: Delta 98, do you have a gate assignment?
DAL098: Negative Delta 98.
ATC: Roger; left turn foxtrot if unable advise.
DAL098: Sorry, unable foxtrot from here.
ATC: Delta 98 roger; break; American 755, join bravo behind the second CRJ in Delta colors from your left and give way to a Delta 757.
AAL755: American 755 roger.

  

Oh so very, very true



Worked Hard, Flew Right
User currently offlinePITingres From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 1145 posts, RR: 13
Reply 16, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 6709 times:

Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
English is the official language of aviation...learn it.

Excellent advice, and I wish more of the JFK controllers would take it to heart.



Fly, you fools! Fly!
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17054 posts, RR: 67
Reply 17, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 6695 times:

Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
English is the official language of aviation...learn it.

Yes it is, but now we must define what "English" actually is, and that is not so clear cut. English has extreme regional variations in accent, vocabulary and to some extent even grammar. Native level English speakers often have a hard time with unfamiliar regional accents. Put a Midwesterner in a pub in rural Lincolnshire and see how well they get along.

It takes time to attune the ear. As an example, it takes about three to six months of living here to get used to "Hong Kong English", which can be almost incomprehensible at first even if the speaker is using correct grammar.

More importantly, there is also a difference between "colloquial English" and "aviation radio English". ICAO, and in cascading fashion national authorities, set down standard phraseology. For example "3" should be pronounced "tree" and "9" is "niner" but plenty of controllers do not use the exact terms. Seeing as controllers at airports like JFK must cater to airlines from literally all over the world, it would behoove them to use such standard phraseology and slow down a bit. The irony is that controllers from non-English speaking countries are often very clear since they are anal retentive about standard phraseology. Not being a native speaker means you tend to "play it safe" on the radio.

Or as PITingres puts it so eloquently:

Quoting PITingres (Reply 16):
Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
English is the official language of aviation...learn it.

Excellent advice, and I wish more of the JFK controllers would take it to heart.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently onlinejgarrido From Guam, joined Mar 2007, 340 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 6643 times:

Quoting DFWJIM1 (Thread starter):
I enjoy listening to air traffic controllers at many large airports in the United States on a regular basis via liveatc.net and it seems like at some airports (DFW,ORD,AUS) the air traffic controllers are very helpful and enthusiastic

I don't have anything to add regarding the specific facilities being discussed here, but something that bugs me is that people on the internet often equate things like funny "catch phrases" and happy sounding voices to good controlling/controllers. Some controllers can make a stressful/complex situation sound easier then it really is. Other times controllers can take a relatively benign situation and make it sound like Armageddon. And just because they aren't throwing out one-liners doesn't mean they don't enjoy their job.

I'm not picking on goboeing but if you take his/her example:

Quoting goboeing (Reply 14):
Alright let's see I gotta move somebody, how 'bout Cactus 450 ahh disregard you're going over PARKE I'll call you back, American 755 I want you to follow the second CRJ in Delta colors from your left, follow the second CRJ from the left and then join taxiway bravo and give way to a Delta 757.

but imagine and jovial sounding voice instead of a condescending NY accent and think most people here would think it's an example of a great controller.

You can't judge the quality of the controlling by the sound of the voice. In fact without knowing the specifics of the operation and what is going off frequency it's impossible to know for sure what is going on and how good a job the controller is doing.


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17054 posts, RR: 67
Reply 19, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 6629 times:

Quoting jgarrido (Reply 18):
Quoting goboeing (Reply 14):
Alright let's see I gotta move somebody, how 'bout Cactus 450 ahh disregard you're going over PARKE I'll call you back, American 755 I want you to follow the second CRJ in Delta colors from your left, follow the second CRJ from the left and then join taxiway bravo and give way to a Delta 757.

but imagine and jovial sounding voice instead of a condescending NY accent and think most people here would think it's an example of a great controller.

Umm, no. Non-standard phraseology. Confusing commands. Unnecessary clogging of the airwaves. Taxiing at a busy airport is hard enough.

I'm not a controller but on the aircraft side of the mike we were taught very early that if the radio is busy you should keep it brief and standardized. Most importantly, think before you press the friggin' button!

As someone remarked on this board a few years ago, you'd think there was a button in the cockpit which transmits "And-ummmmmmm..." just before someone actually speaks. 

[Edited 2013-11-07 20:42:22]


"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently onlinejgarrido From Guam, joined Mar 2007, 340 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (10 months 3 weeks 6 days ago) and read 6618 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 19):

I agree but that doesn't seem to be how many who aren't involved in flying as a profession see it.


User currently onlineRyanairGuru From Australia, joined Oct 2006, 5625 posts, RR: 5
Reply 21, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 6598 times:

Quoting jgarrido (Reply 18):
think most people here would think it's an example of a great controller.

But just because "most people" on YouTube or LiveATC would think that its a "great controller" doesn't make it so. You still have a lot of unnecessary babble (Cactus, yeah never mind, what about Jetblue, nah maybe not) that clogs up the airwaves and drowns out actual communications



Worked Hard, Flew Right
User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 22, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 6578 times:

Fight on kids....most of you have no idea what it takes to work in ground control at any airport, work local control at any airport, work RADAR for arrival/departure at any airport.....so let the folks on here who know give you the best examples of an arrival/departure bank and accept it no matter what they sound like, just enjoy it all.

Yes, management is the issue in most cases and the northeast attitude isn't the problem!

Good night now.....SEEYA 



Any views shared are strictly my own and do not a represent those of any former employer.
User currently offlineSpeedbird128 From Pitcairn Islands, joined Oct 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 2
Reply 23, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 6560 times:

Quoting jgarrido (Reply 18):
You can't judge the quality of the controlling by the sound of the voice.

No. But you can based on the disrespect they show pilots.

Quoting PITingres (Reply 16):

Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
English is the official language of aviation...learn it.

Excellent advice, and I wish more of the JFK controllers would take it to heart.

Aviation English doesn't require fluency in, nor understanding of, sarcasm. If that's what you have to resort to on frequency then I shake my head.

Quoting IAHFLYR (Reply 22):
management is the issue in most cases

And I was taught if you have to then sound like you have tourettes inside the tower cab, but on frequency you sound prefessional... We're also taught to consider pilots our customers, non an annoying mosquito that won't go away.

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 19):
Most importantly, think before you press the friggin' button!

Seconded.

Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
JFK has one of the hardest ground control in the country; It has washed out more controllers than I can count.

Is that really a licence to be a tool? My sector has washed out 65% of trainees this year. Does that give me a license to be sarcastic and rude to pilots? I don't believe so. Falling back on "oh but its difficult" doesn't cut it on the disrespect angle for me. Sorry. We're all grown ups and so is it so hard to just be respectful on frequency?

[Edited 2013-11-07 23:29:32]


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User currently offlineXFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4204 posts, RR: 37
Reply 24, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 6525 times:

Quoting goboeing (Reply 14):

Nailed it!

JFK is JFK, but it routinely is embarrassing the way the controllers lambast the foreign carriers there for not being able to keep up with their added slang. The official language of aviation is english.... aviation english. Aviation english is not regular english. It is a very sterile and efficient english when utlized properly. Literally the maximum amount of meaning out of the fewest words possible. Works great, lasts long time.

Granted, the JFK ground controller position is just downright an awful place to be. 1 controller controlling an all out circus with probably a few "Ms. Piggies" (new favorite term passed on by a friend that flies the A380) running around that can't play well passing by others on the taxiways- plus those being held out due to ramp congestion. Things that a far far busier ATL does without batting an eye, JFK makes very difficult due to a combination of factors-primarily due to design as well as controller configuration during high volume times. They've made baby steps over the years, with the controller config. Add to that rattling off commands with slang to carriers that can barely keep up with regular pace aviation english and the subsequent repeats (why not get it right the first time and slow down a tad without the extra crap?), and you have a train wreck on frequency.



Chicks dig winglets.
User currently offlineAlias1024 From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 2764 posts, RR: 2
Reply 25, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 6607 times:

As others have said, there's certainly big differences from facility to facility and by this point in the thread it's obvious who most pilots think could use some lessons in how to win friends. I'll just add in some comments about a few other places.

SLC: Always professional and courteous, but can I please just get a descend via clearance instead of being given separately and having to read back every step down on the arrival?

DEN: ATC is fine. Ramp control is horrendous. As a note to one ramp controller in particular, it sounds ridiculous when you start a transmission with "and break".

LAX, SFO, SoCal and NorCal approaches: Great controllers. Never had a problem with any of them, and they have a ton of traffic to deal with.

ORD: These guys and gals are great. Always courteous, never sound flustered, and they move airplanes as well as anyone.



It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems with just potatoes.
User currently offlineBEG2IAH From United States of America, joined Apr 2004, 972 posts, RR: 18
Reply 26, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 6582 times:
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Quoting PITingres (Reply 16):
Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):English is the official language of aviation...learn it.
Excellent advice, and I wish more of the JFK controllers would take it to heart.

Thank you for a good laugh!



FAA killed the purpose of my old signature: Use of approved electronic devices is now permitted.
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21654 posts, RR: 55
Reply 27, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 6 hours ago) and read 6752 times:

Quoting goboeing (Reply 14):
JFK:"Let's see...who's coming out of taxiway bravo...that's gonna be jetBlue 461 I think...jetBlue 461 uhh, you know what disregard jetBlue, Delta 98 do you have a gate yet? [Delta has not been listening because the rambling voice on frequency sounded like they were giving someone else a long instruction]

Well Delta should have been listening. If things are that busy, there's no excuse for not keeping an ear out for your callsign even when you think the controller is talking to someone else.

The only two bad experiences I had with ATC were at MDW and SLC. At MDW the controller gave us an approach we weren't able to fly and got irritated when we said we couldn't do it. We were circling out to the west for about ten minutes after that. At SLC, they kept changing arrivals and approaches on us so that just as we were briefing one, we'd get assigned a new one and would have to start the whole approach setup again. This was made more difficult by the fact that some of the points we were assigned to go direct to weren't on the arrival or the approach, so we had to take time to look them up. I'll take a New York accent over that any day.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlinegoboeing From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 2700 posts, RR: 15
Reply 28, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 6691 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 27):
If things are that busy, there's no excuse for not keeping an ear out for your callsign even when you think the controller is talking to someone else.

Too much going on sometimes to listen to some monologue for an hour continuously. Especially when half of it is literally the controller verbalizing their own thoughts on the frequency, none of which are instructions to airplanes. Just 'thinking out loud.'

Completely inappropriate use of the radio, period.


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21654 posts, RR: 55
Reply 29, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 6644 times:

Quoting goboeing (Reply 28):
Too much going on sometimes to listen to some monologue for an hour continuously.

Too busy to listen to an ATC frequency while on the ground? If an emergency's in progress, I guess that would make sense. Doesn't seem like a good argument otherwise, though.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineSPREE34 From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 2248 posts, RR: 9
Reply 30, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 6641 times:

Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
English is the official language of aviation...learn it.

The FAA should take this advice. The 7110 is NOT ATC English friendly. Way too much verbiage, and some controllers just add to it.

Quoting PITingres (Reply 16):
Excellent advice, and I wish more of the JFK controllers would take it to heart

  You'd think the YouTube slaps would eventually sting.

Quoting Speedbird128 (Reply 23):
Aviation English doesn't require fluency in, nor understanding of, sarcasm. If that's what you have to resort to on frequency then I shake my head.

   In my 30 years I usually saw it as an indication that one wasn't packing the gear one thought they were.

Quoting XFSUgimpLB41X (Reply 24):
Nailed it!


JFK is JFK, but it routinely is embarrassing the way the controllers lambast the foreign carriers there for not being able to keep up with their added slang. The official language of aviation is english.... aviation english. Aviation english is not regular english. It is a very sterile and efficient english when utlized properly. Literally the maximum amount of meaning out of the fewest words possible. Works great, lasts long time.

   But,…but,…New York didn't invent it, so it's not cool.



I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2830 posts, RR: 45
Reply 31, posted (10 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 6622 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 27):
Well Delta should have been listening. If things are that busy, there's no excuse for not keeping an ear out for your callsign even when you think the controller is talking to someone else.

Everyone misses things, controllers included. Using nonstandard phrasing, sarcasm, talking fast, and rambling to yourself on frequency are great ways to maximize the opportunities to miss something, especially when a controller starts an instruction to one aircraft and changes his train of thought in one long transmission. I don't know what your personal experience at JFK is (mine is ridiculously extensive) but the airport layout is ridiculous, the workload is high, everything maximizes distractions, and this is normally going on after dark during the big international push. Much of the operation is nonstandard there, and what isn't is an embarrassment for a first world nation. The controllers fit right in. After all before you start blaming the Delta (or whoever) in this example, first ask why the controller doesn't know who is where, and please don't tell me that he's really busy: we all are, and he's not moving around the aviation world's largest cesspool while accomplishing numerous tasks. If the Delta aircraft should be paying attention, shouldn't the controller too? Please see my first sentence in this post.

Quoting goboeing (Reply 28):
Quoting Mir (Reply 27):If things are that busy, there's no excuse for not keeping an ear out for your callsign even when you think the controller is talking to someone else.Too much going on sometimes to listen to some monologue for an hour continuously. Especially when half of it is literally the controller verbalizing their own thoughts on the frequency, none of which are instructions to airplanes. Just 'thinking out loud.'Completely inappropriate use of the radio, period
Quoting Mir (Reply 29):
Quoting goboeing (Reply 28):Too much going on sometimes to listen to some monologue for an hour continuously.Too busy to listen to an ATC frequency while on the ground? If an emergency's in progress, I guess that would make sense. Doesn't seem like a good argument otherwise, though.

Goboeing gets it. If things are high pressure that's when we need ONLY pertinent, focused information conveyed with standard phraseology and no slang. In other words, what everyone on frequency needs most for safety and efficiency of the operation is what you are almost guaranteed never to get at JFK.

Quoting Mir (Reply 29):
Quoting goboeing (Reply 28):Too much going on sometimes to listen to some monologue for an hour continuously.Too busy to listen to an ATC frequency while on the ground? If an emergency's in progress, I guess that would make sense. Doesn't seem like a good argument otherwise, though.

Humans miss things. When they are listening to a monologue of seemingly impertinent information directed at others while attempting to do complex tasks of their own, a sudden rambling turn of phrase is unlikely to be the best way to get the attention of any random aircraft on frequency, no matter how much everyone is trying to listen up.

My solution is simple: after 23 years with my current airline I am finally senior enough to get my number one request in bidding every month. What is my top bidding priority every month? Avoid any trip that touches JFK. Period. It's a dump and the controllers are the worst in the country.

As an aside Mir, I do agree with you on one point: MDW also has terrible ATC.


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21654 posts, RR: 55
Reply 32, posted (10 months 3 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 6434 times:

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 31):
Everyone misses things, controllers included.

Missing things is one thing - it happens to everyone. Intentionally tuning out when an instruction doesn't start with your callsign in a busy environment is quite another. And that seems to be what GoBoeing was defending (If I've misinterpreted that then I apologize). Even if the instruction isn't for you, listening to what's going on can be a huge boost for your situational awareness.

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 31):
After all before you start blaming the Delta (or whoever) in this example, first ask why the controller doesn't know who is where, and please don't tell me that he's really busy: we all are, and he's not moving around the aviation world's largest cesspool while accomplishing numerous tasks. If the Delta aircraft should be paying attention, shouldn't the controller too?

I'm not saying the controller would be blameless there. But a controller's sub-optimal performance shouldn't be a reason for pilots to let their own performance down as well. On the contrary, they should listen even more carefully to try and help the controller out. That's good for everybody: everyone's a stakeholder in the operation running smoothly, and should act in a manner consistent with that, even if someone else isn't.

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 31):
When they are listening to a monologue of seemingly impertinent information directed at others while attempting to do complex tasks of their own, a sudden rambling turn of phrase is unlikely to be the best way to get the attention of any random aircraft on frequency, no matter how much everyone is trying to listen up.

I'd agree. However, the odds of them getting the intended aircraft's attention are significantly better if the intended aircraft is listening.

Finally, I have to disagree about the airport layout. I've never thought of it as particularly complicated: two taxiways encircling the terminals and various taxiways leading from those on the ramps and to the runways. It's pretty much the same layout as LHR, and it's nowhere near as complex as ORD. But then again, I'm from New York and so I've spent a fair amount of time looking at the airport diagram even if I've only been in there a few times (not much demand for charter out of there). And for whatever it's worth (not much, since it seems to have always been during a low traffic period), I've never had an issue there.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineapodino From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 4281 posts, RR: 6
Reply 33, posted (10 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 6416 times:

This is a great thread. One of the better known controllers out there was a guy who used to work in Boston Tower. He was nicknamed Boston John, and there are several youtube videos of him at work. The way he announciates things is very entertaining, but it is also very clear at the same time. My favorite thing he did was when Air Canada came on the frequency, he would sign their call sign as if he was singing Oh Canada. Sadly, he was transferred to a managerial role in San Juan, but I would pull up live ATC if I knew he was working just to hear him work.

Some of my other experiences in facilities.

PHL - Great bunch of people in both tower and Tracon there, and they make do with just about everything they can. They are usually good about telling planes waiting for takeoff their sequence, but many times they are constrained by MIT restrictions from Centers and departure fixes being shut down.

CLT - Tracon seems to give a lot of unnecssarily long final approaches even on VFR days when no one else is flying. Tower does a decent job, but balancing departures between runways could be managed a little better. Since most of the ground is actually USAirways Ramp Control, a lot of taxiing gets crazy, especially to and from the E concourse.

ORD - Best controllers in the business, period.

NYC - JFK has been mentioned to death here. NY Center is hit or miss, but I have visited their TMU before and they seemed very professional. NY Tracon imo is the most difficult facility in the country to work. TRACON is actually made up of five subdivisions. Islip, which handles Long Island traffic. LaGuardia, which also handles HPN, and a couple of the SW CT airports. Kennedy, which also handles Republic in Farmingdale. Newark, which also handles TEB and most of the GA airports in the NJ suburbs of NY. Liberty, which merges the departures from all the airports and vectors them to the departure fixes and hands them off to center. Liberty also handles SWF and some airports in that area. Given that each area has 5 or 6 different sectors, Operationally, NY TRACON operates a lot like a center. Just that level of complexity is enough to drive the TMU guy crazy, and he is the one who sets the arrival rates for all the NY airports and also is key in determining GDPs and stuff like that.


User currently offlineLONGisland89 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 736 posts, RR: 0
Reply 34, posted (10 months 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 6361 times:

I'm surprised about all this hatred directed towards JFK controllers. Have we all forgotten the reason of controlling in the first place? It certainly isn't to roll out the red carpet, stroke pilot's egos, or sound like a jovial ball of fun (although that is what I sound like on the radio ).

JFK has a great safety record, on par or exceeding facilities with similar traffic counts, therefore, claiming that JFK ATC is terrible is an all around junky statement. Their perceived "attitude" is irrelevant to the primary purpose of the ATC system. Their poor performance numbers have nothing to do with controllers and everything to do with the Northeast's airspace complexity and capacity issues from weather and schedules.

"Oh my God, he is raising his voice and there he goes repeating instructions in a snooty tone. Oh jeez, she just used non-standard phraseology to issue those instructions. You know, I would of said this instead....oh JFK is just so crappy." Seriously, get over yourself. I know pilots that use JFK regularly who think it is just fine.


User currently offlineSpeedbird128 From Pitcairn Islands, joined Oct 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 2
Reply 35, posted (10 months 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 6339 times:

Quoting LONGisland89 (Reply 34):
I'm surprised about all this hatred directed towards JFK controllers

Its not hatred. It's just merely surprise that somebody can feel the need to be outright rude to pilots. I don't stroke egos. However I don't belittle or berate pilots either. Its just plain common decency. There is no need for such rubbish in a safety-orientated environment. Your's is the classic "if it hasn't gone bang yet it must be OK" theory.

Quoting LONGisland89 (Reply 34):
Have we all forgotten the reason of controlling in the first place?

Yes thanks for the reminder. Every single day of my life thank you very much.



A306, A313, A319, A320, A321, A332, A343, A345, A346 A388, AC90, B06, B722, B732, B733, B735, B738, B744, B762, B772, B7
User currently offlinegoboeing From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 2700 posts, RR: 15
Reply 36, posted (10 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 6227 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 32):
Missing things is one thing - it happens to everyone. Intentionally tuning out when an instruction doesn't start with your callsign in a busy environment is quite another.

I'm not sure you understand it all the way through.

Sometimes you must tune ATC out to get something done.

For example.

Today at MDW, we planned for a 22L departure because that is what the ATIS advertised. Somewhere between that ATIS and our taxi clearance, they stopped circling to 22L and started straight-in 31C which meant also departing 31C.

So there we were, in the alley, having planned one runway and now we need the following things for a runway that is approximately 200 yards away from us:

- Runway heading
- Departure procedure instructions (heading to fly, altitude restrictions, etc.)
- The above departure must be loaded into the FMS
- The above procedure in the FMS which is loaded by the F/O, must be checked by me ***
***I am driving the airplane on the ground
- Takeoff performance data must be sent and received; that alone is a bunch of keystrokes into the FMS and when it comes back, the F/O makes changes to the following: V1, Vr, V2, Vfs, flap setting (yes, a new flap setting which I'm supposed to request him to set and then we both verify, new trim setting, new thrust/flex setting)
- New engine failure procedure (both set this heading on their HSI in a 'hidden' mode)
- I think I'm forgetting something but that's why we have the runway-change checklist at the end of all of this, which as you might guess, requires the F/O to be head-down and reading a bit.

Take a look at that list again. That is what took place between the gate and the runway hold short line, which is a 300 yard drive. The afternoon sun is right in our face so the F/O has one hand up blocking the sun out of his eyes and/or off of the screen he is trying to read. I'm next to him trying to taxi as slow as the thing will go, because there are multiple airplanes in the narrow alleyway that have been ready to taxi before us and as much as I want to sit with the brake set and do all of the above items, we're really going to be tying things up and I feel like we can safely move out of the ramp and then the F/O can get to work with the runway stuff once we're out on the taxiway.

But of course while that is all happening, ATC is constantly talking, as they need to be.

Can you see though, how there are times when, as a pilot, one must tune-out ATC for a few seconds? I don't mean turn the volume down or take the headset off. But what I mean is, completely STOP listening to what is being said, unless your OWN callsign is heard. It just has to happen that way, or you are unable to concentrate on the important task at hand.

We had the opportunity to screw up the following things on that very, very short taxi:
- Takeoff flap setting (on a 6500' runway this could literally lead to a plane crash five minutes later)
- Takeoff trim/thrust setting
- Engine out procedure
- Takeoff overweight
- Botch the departure procedure by missing a heading or speed limit that's different from the originally planned runway
- and more.

If JFK ground wants to run a monologue of how screwed up the taxiways are that night, and that Iberia doesn't speak Brooklyn very fluently, and neither does Korean Air, and my gosh that jetBlue that missed a turn five minutes ago really messed things up in the sequence for 31L, and blah blah blah blah blah...

...that's fine. Ground can blabber on all they want.

But those of us taking to the sky in a few minutes might have some stuff to look at, so if they need us, we're on the freq...but it might take a crisp, concise radio call to get us in the loop of their latest predicament.


User currently offlineCosmicCruiser From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 2255 posts, RR: 15
Reply 37, posted (10 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 5963 times:

My attitude was always a little different I guess, as for NYC area I just thought it was their brusk NY culture and never had a problem with it. Never took it personally. It's like the very first time I visited NYC around '68 and I'm standing at a news stand looking at a magazine. The attendant says "hey you goin to buy it or not this ain't a library!" Well I was offended and walked away pissed. A few years later I learned it's the culture and no offense is meant. I have always had a great time in NYC and for all the years I flew into EWR, LGA and JFK I never had a problem with the controllers just the traffic. If we want to talk about ATC attitudes we should include FRA compared to CGN or DEL & BOM compared to anywhere. A funny little example of FRA attitude We were holding short between the 25s inbound to the ramp when the controller cleared us across 25R to the apron. My F/O replied but had failed to switch back to the ATC freq from our ramp freq. Just as I flicked on the taxi light this controller says in a very stern voice "Fedex when I give you a clearance I expect an answer from you, now you are cleared across 25R call apron on xxx.xx!" I looked over to see the F/O xmitter on VHF 2 so I made a hasty call to the tower guy confirming our route. The Jet had not moved before he came back at us! For me DEL ATC never offered any info on runway changes or conditions, you needed to read their minds. One day going into DEL we had checked the ATIS up until the last 15 min of the flight. They were using the long int'l runway (before the newest one on the south side) and we had the ILS loaded in the box and all was good. Just as the controller cleared us for the approach he says "you are 3 miles from XXXXX cleared ILS to and he says the short domestic runway on the north side of the field. (I can't remember 28 or 29) We instantly ask for confirmation and he says yes this is your runway. We tell him we need a vector back for the approach because that the ILS is "not loaded in the computer". He then offers us the original int'l runway and we take it and land. As soon as we turn off the runway he starts challenging us as to why we needed that runway since we didn't use anymore runway than the other runway. I tried to tell him we didn't have the ILS in the the computer so then he starts telling us we need to contact Fedex and "get that ILS in your computer". This went on until we parked and I was pissed. I had copies of all the ATIS msgs showing the long runway and after parking pulled up the latest ATIS to find that just minutes before we were cleared for the app. they changed runways without mentioning it. Initially I was going to our flight standards and suggest a little conference with these controllers and see what their knowledge of "the computer" was but after a beer at the hotel it was just the standard "to hell with it".

User currently offlinesandrozrh From Switzerland, joined Feb 2007, 3428 posts, RR: 50
Reply 38, posted (10 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 5881 times:

Quoting goboeing (Reply 3):
They create their own mess and get flustered almost for the sake of it and it just unravels from there. Just terrible.

I couldn't agree with you more, nothing more unpleasant than flying into JFK.

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 4):
Scratch that: of any faciility I have ever been to in any country

Clearly you've never flown into MAD and/or BCN  
Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
English is the official language of aviation...learn it.

That's not the point, almost all pilots flying in and out of US airports speak aviation English very well. There is standard phraseology for a reason though and controllers at international US airports, especially at JFK, largely don't adhere to it. As much as they can expect a foreign pilot flying into a US airport to speak adequat English for ATC communication, we can expect them to be using standard phraseology. I've got to the point that when I'm confronted with non-standard phraseology for a critical clearance, like crossing an active runway, I will make them tell me again even when I understand the original clearance. I really couldn't care less if they get pissed.

Did you know that French, among others, is an official ICAO language aswell? Should France make all pilots flying into and out of France speak French and then have their controllers act the way some US controllers do? Should make for some interesting communicating, not least with pilots from the US.


User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21654 posts, RR: 55
Reply 39, posted (10 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 5571 times:

Quoting goboeing (Reply 36):
Can you see though, how there are times when, as a pilot, one must tune-out ATC for a few seconds?

Not really. Because there's no reason the captain couldn't take the radios while the FO was heads-down doing the work he had to do. And then when it comes time for the captain to do his stuff, the FO can take the radios (and the airplane is going to be stopped at that point anyway). If you've gotten to the point that both pilots have to stop listening to the radios at the same time in order to get their jobs done, something's gone wrong, and I'd be looking to find out what it was and how I could stop it from happening again.

Quoting sandrozrh (Reply 38):
I've got to the point that when I'm confronted with non-standard phraseology for a critical clearance, like crossing an active runway, I will make them tell me again even when I understand the original clearance. I really couldn't care less if they get pissed.

Really? We're going to hold grudge matches on an active frequency? That doesn't seem like a very professional way of going about things.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineXFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4204 posts, RR: 37
Reply 40, posted (10 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 5553 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 39):
Not really. Because there's no reason the captain couldn't take the radios while the FO was heads-down doing the work he had to do. And then when it comes time for the captain to do his stuff, the FO can take the radios (and the airplane is going to be stopped at that point anyway). If you've gotten to the point that both pilots have to stop listening to the radios at the same time in order to get their jobs done, something's gone wrong, and I'd be looking to find out what it was and how I could stop it from happening again.

In reality they were probably just idly chatting about something ... with the controller rambling on the way he was, it's no surprise he caught them off guard.



Chicks dig winglets.
User currently offlinesandrozrh From Switzerland, joined Feb 2007, 3428 posts, RR: 50
Reply 41, posted (10 months 3 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 5507 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 39):

Just as 'unprofessional' as hearing "join F all across, left on A". It's obvious that he wanted us to cross 04L, but I want a proper clearance to cross an active runway.

Everyone can judge for themselves wether thats unprofessional or not.


User currently offlinegoboeing From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 2700 posts, RR: 15
Reply 42, posted (10 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 5416 times:

Quoting Mir (Reply 39):
If you've gotten to the point that both pilots have to stop listening to the radios at the same time in order to get their jobs done, something's gone wrong, and I'd be looking to find out what it was and how I could stop it from happening again.

Nope...rambling ATC = unacceptable and we're available on frequency but understandably won't necessarily completely know what's going on when called.


User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2830 posts, RR: 45
Reply 43, posted (10 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 4422 times:

Quoting sandrozrh (Reply 38):
Quoting PGNCS (Reply 4):Scratch that: of any faciility I have ever been to in any countryClearly you've never flown into MAD and/or BCN

Ah, but I have. Point taken, but JFK is still the worst in my book!  
Quoting CosmicCruiser (Reply 37):
Never took it personally.

Me either; JFK controllers are universally offensive to everyone. Being brusque does not make them professional; they are routinely unprofessional.

Quoting goboeing (Reply 36):
Quoting Mir (Reply 32):Missing things is one thing - it happens to everyone. Intentionally tuning out when an instruction doesn't start with your callsign in a busy environment is quite another. I'm not sure you understand it all the way through.Sometimes you must tune ATC out to get something done.

That's exactly correct.

Quoting Mir (Reply 39):
Quoting goboeing (Reply 36):Can you see though, how there are times when, as a pilot, one must tune-out ATC for a few seconds?Not really. Because there's no reason the captain couldn't take the radios while the FO was heads-down doing the work he had to do. And then when it comes time for the captain to do his stuff, the FO can take the radios (and the airplane is going to be stopped at that point anyway). If you've gotten to the point that both pilots have to stop listening to the radios at the same time in order to get their jobs done, something's gone wrong, and I'd be looking to find out what it was and how I could stop it from happening again.

Wrong. There are plenty of times I can't take the radios from the FO during ground ops, particularly during extremely complex taxiing at night while the FA's are calling, we're getting our numbers and we're starting the second engine. Again, I don't know what your personal experience with JFK is, but you can explain your theory of JFK ground ops all day, but I've been going there in both control seats (and as an engineer before that) for 23 years now, and the reality is different as goboeing correctly explains.

Quoting goboeing (Reply 42):
Quoting Mir (Reply 39):If you've gotten to the point that both pilots have to stop listening to the radios at the same time in order to get their jobs done, something's gone wrong, and I'd be looking to find out what it was and how I could stop it from happening again.Nope...rambling ATC = unacceptable and we're available on frequency but understandably won't necessarily completely know what's going on when called.

        


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19789 posts, RR: 59
Reply 44, posted (10 months 1 week 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 4368 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 17):
Yes it is, but now we must define what "English" actually is, and that is not so clear cut. English has extreme regional variations in accent, vocabulary and to some extent even grammar. Native level English speakers often have a hard time with unfamiliar regional accents. Put a Midwesterner in a pub in rural Lincolnshire and see how well they get along.

   I am a Midwesterner and, while I haven't been to Lincolnshire, I've come across some accents during my travels in England that at first I didn't even recognize as English (I figured it might be Norwegian until I started recognizing the occasional word in one overheard conversation on the Tube). And I spent a lot of time in Australia and espishily Niew Zeelund going "wot?" In Christchurch, the customs lady kept asking me if I had boats in my bag. I kept on repeating: "boats?" I was very confused because...boats? She can't possibly be asking for... Finally in exasperations she spelled: "B-O-O-T-S!"

I'll not even speak of thick Caribbean accents, which sometimes are called "patois" because they don't consider it English.

That said, most people with such accents who work in international trades (such as piloting, medicine, business, law) can revert to a "standard" accent that maintains a national or local character without being unintelligible. And when you are speaking over a tinny radio (I don't know why the voice quality in 2013 isn't any better), a clear standard variant of English is pretty essential. So is reasonably standardized verbiage. There is always room for a bit of personalization (I've heard pilots say "Good day," "How ya doin'/You have a good one now," etc.), but when you are talking business, you should keep your words on the business.

Sidenote: I was once listening to Channel 9 on a transcon when I heard the following exchange between our flight deck and the SLC Center:
UA555: Salt Lake Center, United 555 checking in at 390. How you doin' today?"
SLC: United 555, it is a beautiful day in government service. How is your ride?"


I giggled.  


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17054 posts, RR: 67
Reply 45, posted (10 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 4316 times:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 44):
And I spent a lot of time in Australia and espishily Niew Zeelund going "wot?" In Christchurch, the customs lady kept asking me if I had boats in my bag. I kept on repeating: "boats?" I was very confused because...boats? She can't possibly be asking for... Finally in exasperations she spelled: "B-O-O-T-S!"

Ah, the language of New Zillund! This will help next time you're there.

http://ropata.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/newzillund.jpg

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 44):
I'll not even speak of thick Caribbean accents, which sometimes are called "patois" because they don't consider it English.

Technically a patois is a pidgin or creole, that is an agglomeration of two or more languages, and "non-standard". Pidgins and creoles are different too. A pidgin is a "trade language" developed by two peoples without a language in common. A creole is a natural language evolved from a pidgin.

But I digress...

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 44):
That said, most people with such accents who work in international trades (such as piloting, medicine, business, law) can revert to a "standard" accent that maintains a national or local character without being unintelligible.

  



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineRussianJet From Belgium, joined Jul 2007, 7704 posts, RR: 21
Reply 46, posted (10 months 1 week 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 4311 times:
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Quoting LONGisland89 (Reply 34):
I'm surprised about all this hatred directed towards JFK controllers.

Oh please....hate this, hate that....hate, hate, hate.....such an overused, inappropriately used, lost all meaning, completely incorrectly used word. People (including pilots of many years of global experience) come up with reasoned, very logical criticisms about why they consider the service inferior at JFK, and obviously that has to immediately be labelled as 'hatred'.   

I have a couple of general, non-expert questions about this thread, and JFK in particular:

1) I myself have noticed how some JFK controllers (particularly the infamous guy linked to near the start of the thread) frequently ramble (thinking aloud on the radio), fail to give clear and concise instructions (which many controllers who comment in the forum seem to attach great importance to, and which is an issue which all logic would suggest is vital to safety) and have to repeat instructions several times. These issues have nothing to do with accent, and controllers are highly trained professionals. Surely to God that must be a basic safety issue at times? If so, why doesn't it get addressed as such (or does it)?

2) There have been a fair number of documented instances of what can only really be described as total rudeness from JFK controllers. I have read more than once on the forum about ATC following up pretty vigorously on perceived rudeness or inadequacies from pilots (copy the number and call when on the ground). So, when the boot is on the other foot, again, does anyone actually follow up on instances of apparent rudeness and complain? If so, is it rare and what is the likely outcome?

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 44):
I am a Midwesterner and, while I haven't been to Lincolnshire, I've come across some accents during my travels in England that at first I didn't even recognize as English (I figured it might be Norwegian until I started recognizing the occasional word in one overheard conversation on the Tube). And I spent a lot of time in Australia and espishily Niew Zeelund going "wot?" In Christchurch, the customs lady kept asking me if I had boats in my bag. I kept on repeating: "boats?" I was very confused because...boats? She can't possibly be asking for... Finally in exasperations she spelled: "B-O-O-T-S!"

That's very interesting Doc. I, and I think most people in the UK, very likely have far less trouble understanding the range of English accents across the world. We're brought up on a mixture of American TV, British TV programmes such as soap operas from various corners of the UK with huge diversity of accents, Australian and New Zealand soap operas, and so on. In addition, we have a an extremely densely-packed, rich linguistic scene in the country. Accents and dialects can vary extremely over distances of perhaps only 30 or 40 miles. Obviously the US has a very wide range of accents and dialects too, but I would hazard a guess that significant changes occur over much greater distances, and that the average Joe is unlikely to be as familiar with as many of them as the average Brit might be with UK accents.



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User currently offlineIAHFLYR From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 4790 posts, RR: 22
Reply 47, posted (10 months 1 week 5 days 10 hours ago) and read 4162 times:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 44):
Sidenote: I was once listening to Channel 9 on a transcon when I heard the following exchange between our flight deck and the SLC Center:
UA555: Salt Lake Center, United 555 checking in at 390. How you doin' today?"
SLC: United 555, it is a beautiful day in government service. How is your ride?"

Sounds very similar to what I heard listening to CH 9, may even have been SLC....our flight asked for higher due to turbulence and the reply was "The FAA is quite happy to inform you that your request has been granted, climb and maintain FL380.

And that is exactly how the attitude should be IMHO.



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User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19789 posts, RR: 59
Reply 48, posted (10 months 1 week 5 days 8 hours ago) and read 4113 times:

Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 45):
Ah, the language of New Zillund! This will help next time you're there.

        

Where did this come from? I need to send it to my Kiwi friends!

Quoting RussianJet (Reply 46):

That's very interesting Doc. I, and I think most people in the UK, very likely have far less trouble understanding the range of English accents across the world.

OK, but I'm not a "typical" American. I've traveled far and wide, speak two languages (English and Spanish) equally well (both from birth), and I am pretty good with diverse accents. But sometimes, I get thrown one that just isn't intelligible.


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17054 posts, RR: 67
Reply 49, posted (10 months 1 week 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 4023 times:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 48):
Quoting Starlionblue (Reply 45):
Ah, the language of New Zillund! This will help next time you're there.

Where did this come from? I need to send it to my Kiwi friends!

I honestly can't remember who sent it to me first. I supposed it is from the murky depths of the comedy world wide web somewhere, or more probably George Takei's Facebook feed.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineRussianJet From Belgium, joined Jul 2007, 7704 posts, RR: 21
Reply 50, posted (10 months 1 week 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 3995 times:
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Quoting DocLightning (Reply 48):
but I'm not a "typical" American. I've traveled far and wide, speak two languages (English and Spanish) equally well (both from birth), and I am pretty good with diverse accents. But sometimes, I get thrown one that just isn't intelligible.

Fair enough. I suppose the first thing that sprang to mind though with regards to NZ and Aussie accents is that we really were brought up on them with the TV. Out of interest, did Aussie TV shows get much exposure in the US through the 80s and 90s?



✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
User currently offlineAircellist From Canada, joined Oct 2004, 1720 posts, RR: 8
Reply 51, posted (10 months 1 week 4 days 23 hours ago) and read 3957 times:

Quoting DocLightning (Reply 48):
Where did this come from?
http://www.mediaworks.co.nz/Portals/0/National%20profile.pdf


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 19789 posts, RR: 59
Reply 52, posted (10 months 1 week 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 3846 times:

Quoting RussianJet (Reply 50):
Fair enough. I suppose the first thing that sprang to mind though with regards to NZ and Aussie accents is that we really were brought up on them with the TV. Out of interest, did Aussie TV shows get much exposure in the US through the 80s and 90s?

Not really. English ones did, though.


User currently offlineLONGisland89 From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 736 posts, RR: 0
Reply 53, posted (10 months 1 week 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 3737 times:

Quoting RussianJet (Reply 46):
Oh please....hate this, hate that....hate, hate, hate.....such an overused, inappropriately used, lost all meaning, completely incorrectly used word.

I think it's acceptable that I used the word. Consider the one gentlemen who ''loathes'' flying into JFK and the others who sharply criticized the ATC services there as being the worst in the world. Maybe a similar word would have been suitable for you? Either way it doesn't detract my earlier statement.


User currently offlinecornutt From United States of America, joined Jan 2013, 338 posts, RR: 1
Reply 54, posted (10 months 1 week 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 3533 times:

Quoting goboeing (Reply 14):
Let's see...who's coming out of taxiway bravo...that's gonna be jetBlue 461 I think

This is terrible. Do they just hold their buttons down all the time? In my work with NASA, if we did something like this the flight director would come and bodily yank us away from the console.


User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2830 posts, RR: 45
Reply 55, posted (10 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 3471 times:

Quoting cornutt (Reply 54):
This is terrible. Do they just hold their buttons down all the time? In my work with NASA, if we did something like this the flight director would come and bodily yank us away from the console.

Yes it is terrible. Thank you and the NASA professionals before you who are models of professionally-conveyed, concise, and relevant information. ATC could and should learn from you.

Quoting LONGisland89 (Reply 53):
Consider the one gentlemen who ''loathes'' flying into JFK

I certainly don't regret voicing my opinion that I loathe flying into JFK largely due to the unprofessionalism of JFK ATC personnel, but I agree with RussianJet that the word "hate" is used excessively today and has lost much of its impact due to overuse.


User currently offlineRussianJet From Belgium, joined Jul 2007, 7704 posts, RR: 21
Reply 56, posted (10 months 1 week 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 3420 times:
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Quoting PGNCS (Reply 55):
I certainly don't regret voicing my opinion that I loathe flying into JFK largely due to the unprofessionalism of JFK ATC personnel, but I agree with RussianJet that the word "hate" is used excessively today and has lost much of its impact due to overuse.

Thanks. I think 'loathe' was the only word close to 'hate' and the comment was about 'all this hatred towards JFK'. As you say, totally overused and stripped of meaning and impact.

Quoting cornutt (Reply 54):
This is terrible. Do they just hold their buttons down all the time?

Totally terrible, and not really a rarity (for that guy in particular).



✈ Every strike of the hammer is a blow against the enemy. ✈
User currently offlineSpeedbird128 From Pitcairn Islands, joined Oct 2003, 1648 posts, RR: 2
Reply 57, posted (10 months 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 3316 times:

Quoting cornutt (Reply 54):
Do they just hold their buttons down all the time?

Yes, its like their inner monologue falls out their mouths. Its called inner monologue for a reason LOL.

Then it becomes diatribe. Most of it unnessecary.



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User currently offlineTrucker From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 190 posts, RR: 1
Reply 58, posted (10 months 1 week 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 3260 times:

Could be wrong on this this but I thought I once read on A-net that LHR requires all planes to have transponders so the ground controllers can keep track of where they are. If that's the case why doesn't JFK do the same thing? Actually even if LHR doesn't do it I would think JFK could still do.it.

Watched the video in reply 6. The guy's an idiot but at no time did I think he was impolite.

Been to NYC many times. Gotta get used to the people there and then they're not so bad. They're loud and obnoxious but that's the lifestyle there. The don't mean as much by it as someone who isn't used to it might think.


User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2830 posts, RR: 45
Reply 59, posted (10 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 2873 times:

Quoting Trucker (Reply 58):
Could be wrong on this this but I thought I once read on A-net that LHR requires all planes to have transponders so the ground controllers can keep track of where they are. If that's the case why doesn't JFK do the same thing? Actually even if LHR doesn't do it I would think JFK could still do.it.

They do (as do most big airports), and still confusion reigns. It's simply poor controlling combined with an awful airport layout and many non-native English speakers all trying to move large planes around (often in the dark) at the same time.

Quoting Trucker (Reply 58):
Been to NYC many times. Gotta get used to the people there and then they're not so bad. They're loud and obnoxious but that's the lifestyle there. The don't mean as much by it as someone who isn't used to it might think.

They ARE loud and obnoxious, but that's no excuse for rambling and ranting ATC communications which directly impact safety. As pilots we don't really care what they think of us (honest), we just want professional ATC services at JFK, just like we want at every airport we go to. Most of us try very hard to do what we are told; much of the near-anarchy that reigns there is due to the poor quality of ATC. Period.


User currently offlineKaiarahi From Canada, joined Jul 2009, 3011 posts, RR: 28
Reply 60, posted (10 months 1 week 8 hours ago) and read 2824 times:

Quoting mmedford (Reply 12):
English is the official language of aviation...learn it.

Actually, it isn't. Under Annex 11 of the Chicago Convention, the primary language of any ATC facility must be the language of the country/region in which the facility is located. In addition, facilities designated as serving international traffic must offer service in English



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