vietsky
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Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Fri Mar 06, 2009 10:09 am

Hi guys,

I was wondering what language the Control Tower and Air Traffic Control are using to communicate with Pilots if the Pilots are from the same country. Does it have to be in English as a standard?

For example: Will Control Tower in France will communicate with French pilots of Air France by French? or in my country, Vietnam. Will traffic control communicate with Vietnam Airlines pilots (of course the pilot is Vietnamese) by Vietnamese?

Thanks guys!

Vietsky
 
9VSRH
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:13 am

The universal ATC language is English. However, in some countries, such as France, China, Spain (and some Latin American countries), and Russia pilots/controllers from the same country speak their own native languages.
 
DBCC
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:41 am



Quoting Vietsky (Thread starter):
was wondering what language the Control Tower and Air Traffic Control are using to communicate with Pilots if the Pilots are from the same country. Does it have to be in English as a standard?

Each state can define this for themselves, but English is a minimum requirement.

ICAO defines this:

"In which languages does a licence holder need to demonstrate proficiency?"
Amendment 164 to Annex 1 has introduced strengthened language proficiency requirements for flight crew members and air traffic controllers. The language proficiency requirements apply to any language used for radiotelephony communications in international operations. Therefore, pilots on international flights shall demonstrate language proficiency in either English or the language used by the station on the ground. Controllers working on stations serving designated airports and routes used by international air services shall demonstrate language proficiency in English as well as in any other language(s) used by the station on the ground.

http://www.icao.int/icao/en/trivia/peltrgFAQ.htm#20
 
KELPkid
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:29 am

Quoting 9VSRH (Reply 1):
and some Latin American countries

Yup, in Mexico Air Traffic Control is primarily in Spanish, and don't try speaking Spanish with them unless you know Spanish aviation terms (I tried it because I speak Spanish well enough to carry on a conversation, but I was thoroughly embarrased and had to revert to English for safety's sake when I realized I don't understand one bit of aviation terminology in Spanish    ). ATC remains in Spanish for all other aircraft/broken English for you if you try to speak English with them (there are some controllers down in Mexico I can just barely understand...and there are some controllers I can understand perfectly). This always worries me a bit, as you have no idea what's going on around you like you would when everyone is speaking the same language.

By the way, I like your screen name. My first 777 flight was on 9V-SRH, from SIN to PEN  

[Edited 2009-03-06 17:33:59]
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HAWK21M
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Sat Mar 07, 2009 9:05 am

Although In INDIA , people speak many different languages,but when it comes to ATC its always Only in ENGLISH,apart from the customary NAMASHKAR.
regds
MEL
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CrimsonNL
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Sat Mar 07, 2009 5:13 pm

A nice story from a teacher of mine who was flying to an airport in France, the controller refused to talk English, and used French. (Airport charts indicated English speaking controllers) When he told the controller (in English) that he was coming in for runway 06 instead of 24 the controller suddenly managed to speak English to correct him...
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cloudyapple
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Sun Mar 08, 2009 8:20 am



Quoting 9VSRH (Reply 1):
The universal ATC language is English. However, in some countries, such as France, China, Spain (and some Latin American countries), and Russia pilots/controllers from the same country speak their own native languages.

Indeed, which is a very very poor practice since that means not all pilots on frequency will have the necessary spatial awareness.

This incident at CDG best illustrates why it's better to stick to English.
http://aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=20000525-0
A310/A319/20/21/A332/3/A343/6/A388/B732/5/7/8/B742/S/4/B752/B763/B772/3/W/E145/J41/MD11/83/90
 
vietsky
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Mon Mar 09, 2009 3:25 am

Thanks guys for the info. Really help.

Vietsky
 
Pihero
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Tue Mar 10, 2009 6:10 pm



Quoting CrimsonNL (Reply 5):
A nice story from a teacher of mine who was flying to an airport in France, the controller refused to talk English, and used French. (Airport charts indicated English speaking controllers) When he told the controller (in English) that he was coming in for runway 06 instead of 24 the controller suddenly managed to speak English to correct him...

The usual bar-bragging.
Your friend, if the story is true should have told you about his confiscated aircraft and lost licence for a major violation of airlaw : beginning an approach without clearance.
Of course, as it's another French-bashing story, it gets popular b***sh*t.

Quoting Cloudyapple (Reply 6):


This incident at CDG best illustrates why it's better to stick to English.

On the other hand, you could also mention the PanAM-KLM collision in which everybody was speaking English, and quite a few accidents, even in the US about misunderstood instructions.
See here :
http://aviation-safety.net/database/dblist.php?Event=ANW
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flymia
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:34 pm



Quoting Pihero (Reply 8):

I don't think anyone here is bashing France its a problem in many countries. I hate it when I hear another language on ATC. They all have to known a decent amount of English to be pilots and ATC they should speak it for the sake of safety. At least at the large International Airports. Sure in a small regional airport in China or Colombia there is not much need as everyone is speaking the same language. But even listening to Caracas ATC or Bogota you will hear Spanish I find it unprofessional and dangerous.
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 18, 2009 7:00 pm



Quoting 9VSRH (Reply 1):
The universal ATC language is English. However, in some countries, such as France, China, Spain (and some Latin American countries), and Russia pilots/controllers from the same country speak their own native languages

Canada as well - French or English are used within Quebec. The awareness of those around is brought up from time to time, but in fact rarely if ever seems to result in anything untoward.
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CosmicCruiser
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 18, 2009 9:22 pm



Quoting KELPkid (Reply 3):
and had to revert to English for safety's sake w

That's why we don't won't a pilot who is fluent in another language to use it on the radio because the other pilot won't understand either. Now you're relying on one pilot to know what's been said.
 
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:34 pm

It is a safety issue and a problem. In Germany except for Flight Information (VFRtraffic) English will always be used.
@ Pihero
Didn´t the controllers of Paris Orly go on strike because they were forced to use English?! I find it very unprofessinal not to use English for ATC clearences, a joke ok but never a clearence.
 
Pihero
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:37 am



Quoting Skyman (Reply 12):
Didn´t the controllers of Paris Orly go on strike because they were forced to use English?

Not to my recollection. There was, though, a refusal from French pilots to use English in French airspace.
What is amusing here is the assumption that Englishb would cure all the safety problems around an airport.
Those who think that are sadly mistaken : I find it equally unprofessional that my English doesn't allow me to understand half of the com traffic in US airspace : IFR use of VFR reporting points, local procedures amounting to a particular dialect, refusal to adhere to published and universally agrred upon ICAO phraseology.....
I also find unprofessional the US aircrews keeping their altitude/speed clearances read-back habits around international airports.
Around Montreal / Quebec, have just a short listening to AF crews...the vast majority use English as, once again, the accent and phraseology of French-speaking ATCOs is hard to understand ( I remembered once being sent to "tablier"XXX and it took us quite a long time to figure that "tablier" was just a straight translation of "apron"...
Sorry, guys, the problem is vastly more complicated than you all think.
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GoingAround
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:58 pm



Quoting Pihero (Reply 13):
Not to my recollection. There was, though, a refusal from French pilots to use English in French airspace.
What is amusing here is the assumption that Englishb would cure all the safety problems around an airport.
Those who think that are sadly mistaken : I find it equally unprofessional that my English doesn't allow me to understand half of the com traffic in US airspace : IFR use of VFR reporting points, local procedures amounting to a particular dialect, refusal to adhere to published and universally agrred upon ICAO phraseology.....
I also find unprofessional the US aircrews keeping their altitude/speed clearances read-back habits around international airports.

No offence, but you seem to have some personal issue with the use of English in ATC, while defending to the hilt the use of French?

I don't think anyone here is suggesting that there is something inherently superior about the use of English in ATC. Merely that for the purpose of worldwide continuity and spacial awareness for all pilots there should be a universal language. Surely the most intelligent solution to this would be to use one of the most widely understood and spoken languages in the world (Granted, English in may not be the most spoken language, however I think it's justifiably the most understood and most taught second-language)

Personally, I don't think there is even a case for everyone NOT using a universal language, for all pilots, airlines and aircraft at all airports in the world. I'm surprised to hear that French Pilot's threw their toys out the pram about using their native language in their own country? I would expect professionals to appreciate the reasoning behind such a request?

Just my  twocents 

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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:23 am



Quoting BE77 (Reply 10):
Quoting 9VSRH (Reply 1):
The universal ATC language is English. However, in some countries, such as France, China, Spain (and some Latin American countries), and Russia pilots/controllers from the same country speak their own native languages

Canada as well - French or English are used within Quebec.

And in the Ottawa region.
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Mon Mar 23, 2009 7:26 am



Quoting GoingAround (Reply 14):
I would expect professionals to appreciate the reasoning behind such a request

What better example of using one common language as in INDIA.Inspite of numerous options.
If its going to encourage & contribute to Flight safety,it should be used.
regds
MEL.
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Pihero
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Mon Mar 23, 2009 8:30 pm



Quoting GoingAround (Reply 14):

I don't think anyone here is suggesting that there is something inherently superior about the use of English in ATC.

That would prove that my English is seriously lacking, then ! (but is it really the case ?)
Defending to the hilt the use of French ?
Hardly. First, you have to know ( and no one had mentioned it in this thread), AF crews would use English for a Pan Pan or a Mayday Mayday call as they could involve some deviations to the air traffic procedures (that's SOP), and thus fulfilling all the necessary information to the aircrews in the same airspace.
What is bugging in this thread is that people still see ATC as it was some forty years ago...Things have changed in most of the world axcept in Africa, TCAS is about mandatory everywhere and ADSB is around the corner...with the use of ACARS, no one over the Atlantic knows where the others are while not so long ago the oceanic clearance would reveal one's route companions right from the beginning... Have these issues been addressed here ?
As for English...why not ? Problem is that I understand a lot more Spanish or Portuguese radio traffic in/over Spain and Portugal than I do generally a US ATCO, be he/she in NYC, Chicago or Dallas...and may I remind you that the RT English phraseology requires everybody's adherence ? E VRY BO DY... until such time, I suggest that you leave the French alone...for a change.
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Mon Mar 23, 2009 10:56 pm



Quoting Pihero (Reply 17):
Problem is that I understand a lot more Spanish or Portuguese radio traffic in/over Spain and Portugal than I do generally a US ATCO, be he/she in NYC, Chicago or Dallas...and may I remind you that the RT English phraseology requires everybody's adherence ?

Just curious, but why do you have a problem with FAA controllers and our phraseology?
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GoingAround
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:10 pm

Pihero, I think you've misunderstood my point.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 17):
Hardly. First, you have to know ( and no one had mentioned it in this thread), AF crews would use English for a Pan Pan or a Mayday Mayday call as they could involve some deviations to the air traffic procedures (that's SOP), and thus fulfilling all the necessary information to the aircrews in the same airspace.

No-one has disputed that AF (or any other crew for that matter) wouldn't comply with SOP for declaring an emergency purely on the basis of language? The point I was making was related to general, every-day situational awareness that would be improved if everyone was using a 'standard' language. As you pointed out, I fully agree that for this to be most effective; phraseology across the board should be uniform, whether it be in a country who's native language is not English, or an English speaking country where irregularities in RT have become the norm (I have spoken to a BA pilot in the past who claimed the standard ATC in China was more consistent that than in the USA, just to give a representation of a non-English speaking country vs. an English speaking one, however, I am in now way suggesting this is a representative opinion of ATC in the US, merely a point of view I have been told of)

Quoting Pihero (Reply 17):
TCAS is about mandatory everywhere and ADSB is around the corner

While this is true, I don't believe this can be presented as an argument against a single language for use in ATC. While these systems have greatly improved conflict mitigation they should still be seen as a safety net for when situations arise when ATC separation has not been provided correctly, not as the primary method of avoidance? The goal of ATC is to prevent systems like TCAS from ever having to be used.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 17):
roblem is that I understand a lot more Spanish or Portuguese radio traffic in/over Spain and Portugal than I do generally a US ATCO, be he/she in NYC, Chicago or Dallas...and may I remind you that the RT English phraseology requires everybody's adherence ?

I agree completely; I am not suggesting a single language is the solution to all of these problems if it is not regulated or consistent across the board.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 17):
E VRY BO DY... until such time, I suggest that you leave the French alone...for a change.

I'm sorry? I have read and re-read this thread and can't find any selective criticism of the French, nor have I noticed any vehemently anti-French references on any of these boards? I fail to see why you feel the French are a victim in this discussion?

If I have mis-interpreted any of the above please feel free to point it out, again, my intention in this discussion was not to cause offence to any other nationalities or languages? But I can't help but feel the last part of your post has picked up on some unfounded idea that France is ALWAYS victimised? Pretty poor mentality IMHO.

All the best,
Alex

[Edited 2009-03-23 16:15:34]
 
Pihero
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:45 am

GoingAround,
Thanks for your post.
Looking at your avowed age and experience, I'd say that you have no idea how congested the traffic around an international airport is, how many different frequencies are used and how difficult is to keep tags on everybody around you. Difficult enough to get the messages addressed to you, let alone mind those for other aircraft.
Get one day an airband radio and monitor the traffic into your local international airport...See how many messages have to be repeated because the aircrew didn't pick them out first time...
Then imagine that you are missing half of the traffic as the departures are on another frequency...knowing fully well that conflicts are more likely to arise between DEPs vs ARRs rather than airplanes on the same trajectory.
As for perceived French bashing, just see on this thread posts # 5 and 6.

Quoting GoingAround (Reply 19):
nor have I noticed any vehemently anti-French references on any of these boards?

You must be blind or dyslexic.

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 18):
Just curious, but why do you have a problem with FAA controllers and our phraseology?

because it's not standard ICAO, or simply standard as about every airport has its own idiosyncrasies, its own lingo...etc...It's probably fine for US pilots used to that traffic but hell for any foreigner.
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levg79
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Tue Mar 24, 2009 12:07 pm

Out of curiosity, does anyone know what language ATC communications are in in Latvia? I know it has to be English for foreign airlines, but what about airlines like BT or SU?

This thread also reminds me of an old ATC joke:

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."


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skyman
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Tue Mar 24, 2009 3:46 pm



Quoting Pihero (Reply 20):

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 18):
Just curious, but why do you have a problem with FAA controllers and our phraseology?

because it's not standard ICAO, or simply standard as about every airport has its own idiosyncrasies, its own lingo...etc...It's probably fine for US pilots used to that traffic but hell for any foreigner.

I also heard that from different sources. The accent can be very difficult for others to understand. I think everybody all over the world shoud use standard ICAO phraseology.
 
GoingAround
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Tue Mar 24, 2009 6:00 pm



Quoting Pihero (Reply 20):
Looking at your avowed age and experience, I'd say that you have no idea how congested the traffic around an international airport is, how many different frequencies are used and how difficult is to keep tags on everybody around you. Difficult enough to get the messages addressed to you, let alone mind those for other aircraft.

So my age makes me unable to comment on any of the above? Being between the age range of 16-20, despite the fact I hold a full UK PPL license, makes me less able to comment on matters involving ATC than say a 40 year old member of these boards with no aeronautical experience at all? I have visited NATS Swanwick ATC Centre and seen the traffic flow into the London TMA during one of the busiest parts of the day, so I am fully aware of how congested traffic around one of the busiest international airports is.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 20):
Get one day an airband radio and monitor the traffic into your local international airport...See how many messages have to be repeated because the aircrew didn't pick them out first time...

Not including my visit to Swanwick, using an airband radio I have listened regally to controllers manning the Hurn, Seaford and Lydd sectors of LATCC and cannot say your comment is a noticeable issue during nearly all of the transmissions. Most frequently, the aircrews who seem to have the biggest problem regarding mis-understanding of RT communications are those whose native language is vastly different to latin-based European languages (Such as China, Russia, Middle Eastern and some African Carriers) not those from France, Germany etc.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 20):
Then imagine that you are missing half of the traffic as the departures are on another frequency...knowing fully well that conflicts are more likely to arise between DEPs vs ARRs rather than airplanes on the same trajectory.

I am fully aware that this is the case, but again, because of the wide use of SID's within the UK this is not an issue I have come across regularly proving a problem for ATCO's. From my experience anyway.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 20):
You must be blind or dyslexic.

Hmmm. I am neither blind nor dyslexic, but still have not come across any of this 'discrimination' which you seem to think is prevalent on these boards.

Again, I think you are detracting away from the point I made that if all aircrews used one universal language, with uniform phraseology and irregular RT kept to a minimum, that is would be effective in increasing spacial awareness and general safety, this is not about any one language being superior to another. Are you seriously suggesting that individual countries maintaining their native language for ATC would improve safety and traffic flow? What then when (perish the thought) an aircraft flies to a foreign country where their language is different from the one used?

All the best,
Alex
 
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:04 pm



Quoting GoingAround (Reply 23):
So my age makes me unable to comment on any of the above? Being between the age range of 16-20, despite the fact I hold a full UK PPL license, makes me less able to comment on matters involving ATC than say a 40 year old member of these boards with no aeronautical experience at all?

No. Only that your argument is based on hearsay and not personal experience.
Your argument was very much valid some thirty years ago. It's becoming less and less so nowadays.
We've come to a situation in which much, if not all, the responsibility for collision avoidance is left to the ATCOs, if only because they are the only ones with a picture of the environment. Every time I take an airplane, I know that I have a contract with them and basically, second-guessing them would amount to a high degree of death wish.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 20):
Then imagine that you are missing half of the traffic as the departures are on another frequency...knowing fully well that conflicts are more likely to arise between DEPs vs ARRs rather than airplanes on the same trajectory.

This is one of the points that have contradicted your argument : If you're really interested in having the SA for your trajectory, tough !, you'll be missing the most dangerous half of the traffic (for, contrarily to your fellows on the same frequency following/preceding you like on a rail ) as their flight paths are different...protected ?... you should hope so.
Modern ATC procedures are quite universal nowadays : for arrivals, several holding fixes from which initial arrival routes converge towards the final approach queue...and yes, I would manage a better flight if I knew the position/speed/altitude of the aircraft in front, but most of the time, I'm constrained by my clearance : imposed speed up to a fixed distance from the runway for instance : my ATCO is managing the spacing and if visually or through the TCAS I feel he'she is going too far, I have the liberty of choosing another solution...so how many aircraft was I concentrating on ? As far as I know, only one.

Quoting GoingAround (Reply 23):
if all aircrews used one universal language, with uniform phraseology and irregular RT kept to a minimum, that is would be effective in increasing spacial awareness and general safety

Contrarily to your perception, I agree with that, but a lot of people should see inside their own house first.
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DiamondFlyer
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:28 pm



Quoting Pihero (Reply 20):
because it's not standard ICAO, or simply standard as about every airport has its own idiosyncrasies, its own lingo...etc...It's probably fine for US pilots used to that traffic but hell for any foreigner.

So what that American ATC doesn't conform to ICAO standards. I'd venture to bet there are many, many other FAA related things that don't either. Last time I checked, ICAO was an organization under the control of the UN. So, essentially, its meaningless. When the UN has a suitable military to come and force the FAA to use some goofy language standards, we'll think about changing.

Until such day, deal with it, or don't fly in the US.

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lowrider
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Tue Mar 24, 2009 10:51 pm

Quoting DiamondFlyer (Reply 25):
Until such day, deal with it, or don't fly in the US.

No, no, no. It is perfectly reasonable to require US controllers to conform to a standard. Something as safety sensitive as ATC communications is no place to engage in nationalistic chest thumping. I do my best to comply with the ICAO standard when abroad and cringe a little when I hear some of my counterparts at other US carriers not even try. Given some of the variations I have heard in the northeast corridor, I have been surprised with how few language related incidents have occured. I don't mean a misunderstanding or an extra readback, but rather a genuine loss of seperation of other serious incident.

If we want other countries to used standardized language when we fly there, we should return the courtesy. As languages are difficult for me, I am grateful that I can speak English throughout the world.

[Edited 2009-03-24 15:53:19]
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skyman
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Tue Mar 24, 2009 11:47 pm

Thanks for the good post Lowrider. I can completely agree with you.

@ DiamondFlyer
Even if your post made me laugh it is useless for the discussion and I´m very happy that most people who work in aviation don´t think the way you do. They care more about safety and want to come home well.

In Germany we stick so standard phraseology and even the military uses English.
 
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glen
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 12:40 am



Quoting Lowrider (Reply 26):
If we want other countries to used standardized language when we fly there, we should return the courtesy.

Tks a lot for this great statement.
I was reading this discussion from time to time. Didn't think about participating as there are so many unreasonable positions.
Maybe it's sometimes for pilots with native language english difficult to stick to a somehow artificial standard phraseology, like it's difficult for pilots from foreign carriers to translate everything into another language. But it helps on both sides that everybody can understand everybody an so improve safety. Besides it helps to keep the freaquencies clear of chatting and leave more time for the essential messages.
"The horizon of many people is a circle with zero radius which they call their point of view." - Albert Einstein
 
DiamondFlyer
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:27 am

Alright, fine, make English the language, and make it standard across the whole world. The problem isn't with English itself, its how the language is understood, written, comprehended and spoken. Where I fly, you can clearly tell who is a native speaker and who isn't. And quite frankly, those who aren't native speakers have no business flying. They don't understand if ATC is asking them a question or giving them an instruction. Half of the time, instructors have to get on, and speak for the students.

Standardized communications won't do a thing until those who are communicating can actually speak, UNDERSTAND and COMPREHEND the language. Until then, standardize everything you want, won't make a difference.

-DiamondFlyer
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lowrider
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:43 am



Quoting DiamondFlyer (Reply 29):
And quite frankly, those who aren't native speakers have no business flying. They don't understand if ATC is asking them a question or giving them an instruction. Half of the time, instructors have to get on, and speak for the students.

I am going to assume that the vast majority of your flying experience has taken place in South Florida. It would be a mistake to judge the rest of this world based on such an experience. If you want to make a case that some students are not prepared to communicate to ATC, you can probably do that. You should take it up with thier schools or instructors. But most of the world (at least the 5 continents I have visited) manages to get by using ICAO standard english. In many areas, the understanding is limited to ATC use, but we are not looking for fluency, only for proficiency in understanding and speaking key phrases.

As to use of a native language in another country, I have no problem with that either. If it helps the controller communicate with another aircraft more efficiently and avoid an incident, have at it.

Quoting Skyman (Reply 27):
In Germany we stick so standard phraseology and even the military uses English.

And it shows. Some of the easiest to understand, most english proficient controllers (at least to my ear) on the continent are working at Rhine radar.
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Pihero
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:00 am

Lowrider,
Thanks for your post, and coming from a pilot who's seen other skies, it's priceless. The problem is that we are very much entrenched in our respective civilisational environments and basically are very wary of changes.
The use of English has brought some important safety boost over some rather critical parts of the world : over Northern Africa, for instance where one has to rely on one's picture of the traffic around as radar control wasn't available. When Tunisia and Algeria decided to go for an all-english R/T procedure, things became easier and safer. Kudos to them.
France going to an all English ATC ? I would say impossible as we have something called the Academie Française and an Association for the Defense of the French Language, just about the only official lobbies in this country...They are the reason why the 1996 attempt to enforce the use of English by AF pilots failed...miserably...amidst an extraordinary public outcry.
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glen
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:06 am



Quoting DiamondFlyer (Reply 29):
Standardized communications won't do a thing until those who are communicating can actually speak, UNDERSTAND and COMPREHEND the language

Sure, this should be a minimum requirement and would be great it it would be so.

But

Quoting DiamondFlyer (Reply 29):
And quite frankly, those who aren't native speakers have no business flying

according to this statement I suppose you havent't yet seen a lot of aviation world. There are whole continents and many countrys which are not native english speakers, me including. So either you stop international flying (and therefore business, trade, travel,...money...) or you try to have at least a minimum of standardized communication to help keep aviaton at a certain safety level.
As I said earlier: It needs both sides (native and nonnative speakers) to make an effort.

Lowrider, you've been already replied to this post, but you speak out of my heart. Tks
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Pihero
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:28 am

One last remark.
ICAO R/T English is very basic, so basic that its level won't allow you to order a beer in English.
Basic words : Climb, descend (do not use TO ever !), turn, heading, flight level, altitude, squawk, immediate, cleared ...and little else...Anybody can use and understand it, provided the locutor remains inside the procedure. But as soon as somebody reverts to his / her natural level of conversational English, the whole process crashes down.
Just about one month ago, I used the NTSB released tapes of Cactus 1549 for procedures teaching., and I chose the control tower tape. Not one of my students understood anything beyond numbers and clearances...then on the transcript we picked one pilot mistaking a landing clearance...on the Clearance delivery, same thing, we had to get the area charts out before they could slowly pick up what was said...and discovered one erroneously read back departure clearance... Pilots announcing "four point four to six thousand"...etc...someone getting the anchor out (we had to read that one from the transcript )...can you understand how hellish that sort of environment can be for an alien ? Especially when, apparently very few people would make any allowances down to a level of R/T that foreigners would understand.

[Edited 2009-03-24 19:31:18]
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DiamondFlyer
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:29 am



Quoting Pihero (Reply 31):
France going to an all English ATC ? I would say impossible as we have something called the Academie Française and an Association for the Defense of the French Language, just about the only official lobbies in this country...They are the reason why the 1996 attempt to enforce the use of English by AF pilots failed...miserably...amidst an extraordinary public outcry.

Wait, wait, wait. You want to impose a standardized form of English across the world, yet continue to allow your country to use it's local dialect. That's a double standard in my book. Either its all a standardized English 100% of the time, or you allow for the local dialect (French, New Yorker, Boston, etc...)

And you wonder why everyone was bashing on France earlier?

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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:36 am

Pihero is right on here Diamond.

Go spend a couple hours listening to ORD tower if it's available. Then take a listen to ground and see if you can keep up. I bet you can't. Now imagine being a non-native speaker. I hate going to Montreal and having to figure out what's going on because of all the French. I can pick up a little, but it's dangerous. Yet it's no more dangerous than the broken English I encounter going to Mexico.

Aviation is a world industry. And because of that, there has to be some standard. In the case of most weather reporting, Europe (specifically France) has set the standard with the metric system and abbreviations used in METARS and TAFs. English is one of the most widely spoken languages. Therefore, it's the standard.
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 7:04 am



Quoting Pihero (Reply 13):
What is amusing here is the assumption that Englishb would cure all the safety problems around an airport.

No one has said that. What we are saying is that sticking to one langauge that everybody understands is safer and hence preferable to multiple langauges on R/T - be it French or Spanish or Russian or Chinese. Unfortunately it is English that is the universal language of choice for aviation.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 20):
Looking at your avowed age and experience, I'd say that you have no idea how congested the traffic around an international airport is, how many different frequencies are used and how difficult is to keep tags on everybody around you. Difficult enough to get the messages addressed to you, let alone mind those for other aircraft.

And with what little I can pick up on the busy R/T it happens to be a language that I don't understand, it doesn't help with my situational awareness. As illustrated in the Paris accident preliminary report:

Quote:
Il a entendu un message en français qu'il n'a pas compris puis l'instruction en anglais les concernant " alignez-vous et attendez, vous êtes numéro deux ". Il a commencé immédiatement à avancer.

He heard a message in French that he did not understand then instruction in English on the "line up and wait, you're number two." He immediately started to move forward.

It is very clear language played a part in the confusion. If he had understood the R/T in French was to clear the next aircraft to land, he wouldn't have moved onto the runway.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 20):
You must be blind or dyslexic.

You must be over sensitive and over reacting. You are downright rude too. No one is against the French language here. We are only discussing about the safety aspects.

Quoting Pihero (Reply 31):
France going to an all English ATC ? I would say impossible as we have something called the Academie Française and an Association for the Defense of the French Language, just about the only official lobbies in this country...They are the reason why the 1996 attempt to enforce the use of English by AF pilots failed...miserably...amidst an extraordinary public outcry.

It is the DGCA's responsibility to present the safety implications of the use of multiple languages on R/T to these organizations promoting national pride. It would appear to me that this is not done and I would question whether safety is being put in second place to national pride in a certain country.
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 1:27 pm



Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 35):
Go spend a couple hours listening to ORD tower if it's available. Then take a listen to ground and see if you can keep up. I bet you can't. Now imagine being a non-native speaker.

How do you propose we work Ground? I see you fly E170's so you must be familiar with the operation. Anyway, I know there are differences in phraseology between Europe and the FAA such as "Line up and wait" versus "Position and hold." Or, here in the U.S., to free up frequency congestion, we'll say "Number three, RJ three mile final, RWY 28 cleared to land." My question is, how vastly different is the phraseology in the U.S. versus Europe/rest of the world?
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:39 pm



Quoting P3Orion (Reply 37):
My question is, how vastly different is the phraseology in the U.S. versus Europe/rest of the world?

Well it's not all different, but some differences can be real safety-issues.

For example: In U.S. for a climb or descend clearence it just says "maintain FLXXX", XXX meaning the new cleared level. According ICAO it says "climb/descend FLXXX", while "maintain FLXXX" means to hold the present level, not to climb or descend, e.g. if a airplane asks for descend but can not yet be cleared. There was a near miss not long a ago in Switzerland. A U.S.-Carrier at FL110 asking for further descend, was told to "maintain FL 1-1-0", because of opposite traffic at FL100. Because of beeing used to that the wording "maintain" includes a climb/descend clearence he misunderstood an interpreted 1-1-0 as 1-0-0. (How fast one can misunderstand these numbers you should know). So he started descend towards his opposite traffic.

This is just an example. And I don't discuss, if the U.S. or ICAO phraseology is better, or more efficient or safer. It's just to show how small differences in wordings can lead to big and dangerous misunderstandings and how important it is therefore to have some standards.
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 2:52 pm

This is the reason I hate flying into Montreal. The controllers are all speaking french so you have no idea what is going on. You call up in English and they will respond in English, then go right back to babbling away in French. I think this is really dangerous, especially on the ground when you have no idea where other planes are or what to be looking for.
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:06 pm



Quoting P3Orion (Reply 37):
My question is, how vastly different is the phraseology in the U.S. versus Europe/rest of the world?

There wouldn't be any problem if the R/T procedures are adhered to by everybody. The differences you mentioned just add a bit of confusion to non-US aircrews, but that disappear after some experience.
The fact is that radio traffic is very informal, full of local colloquialisms and very lax discipline...The example is taken from the Tracon tape on the Cactus incident :
"
N376G : Hello, departure, Global three six seven Golf, Four point four for seven thousand
ATC : November seven six Golf, New York Departure, climb to and maintain one five thousand.
N378G : Right up to one five thousand, Cessna six Golf...
"
Comment : that aircraft in three messages has had three different call signs, let alone the fancy "right stuff" lingo he's using...

On the local control :
"
ATC : American three seven eight, La Guardia tower. You're following an MD eighty on the downwind of the landing. Clearance shortly, you're number three.
AA378 : Cleared to land, American three seventy- eight.
"
Comment : Was he really ?
...
"
ATC : Northwest three twenty eight, reduce errr reduce and square your base to final. Gonna plow the intersection real quick...
"
Comment : ??????????? and when does he stop the colloquialism ? After "final" ?
I have to add that in most places, ATCOs procedures are a lot more disciplined than the pilots' and after a while, they become understandable by foreign aircrews.
But to say that in the USA, the US pilots help my SA would amount to a downright lie.
When someone announces "expressway visual", it'd take me some time to realise that he has the runway in sight, that he is somewhere over some motorway... Is he on final ? at what height ? on which runway ?

Quoting Cloudyapple (Reply 36):

It is very clear language played a part in the confusion. If he had understood the R/T in French was to clear the next aircraft to land, he wouldn't have moved onto the runway.

I certainly agree that language has played a big part in this accident.
But think of it one bit further : Had the ATCO used the proper phraseology, chances are the accident would have been avoided :
That phraseology should have been :
"XXX, Tower, line up and wait behind the departing MD eighty on your right."
Unfortunately, that particular ATCO had a very low experience of the CDG intersection departures (he was on a course) and so didn't have the proper grasp of the R/T procedures.
As I said earlier on my posts, the problem is vastly bigger than just an application of international English in all ATC environment. I have given examples of collisions / mid-airs in an all-english-speaking airspace so IMO, we have to look into better/faster communications and we should start with generalizing the published ICAO procedures. I'm afraid that we'd be fully data-linked before that happens...and when that happens, you'll tell me what happened to your claim for situational awareness...and I'm not even talking about the likely injection of pilot less drones in these airspaces !

Quoting Cloudyapple (Reply 36):
It is the DGCA's responsibility to present the safety implications of the use of multiple languages on R/T to these organizations promoting national pride. It would appear to me that this is not done and I would question whether safety is being put in second place to national pride in a certain country.

See ? amidst your denials you find yourself singling out ONE country only, so maybe, just maybe I'm not that paranoid. As to the DGCA responsibility, go and write to them. You'd find out that their arguments are very close to mine.
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 3:25 pm



Quoting GLEN (Reply 38):
For example: In U.S. for a climb or descend clearence it just says "maintain FLXXX", XXX meaning the new cleared level. According ICAO it says "climb/descend FLXXX", while "maintain FLXXX" means to hold the present level, not to climb or descend, e.g. if a airplane asks for descend but can not yet be cleared.

In the U.S. climb and descent clearences are read " United three twenty two descend and maintain one one thousand" or "climb and maintain one one thousand" it's never just "maintain one one thousand."

Quoting Pihero (Reply 40):
When someone announces "expressway visual", it'd take me some time to realise that he has the runway in sight, that he is somewhere over some motorway... Is he on final ? at what height ? on which runway ?

The "expressway visual" is a published Visual Approach procedure to RWY 31 at LGA. It is a common procedure at LGA.
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:04 pm



Quoting P3Orion (Reply 41):
In the U.S. climb and descent clearences are read " United three twenty two descend and maintain one one thousand" or "climb and maintain one one thousand" it's never just "maintain one one thousand."


I didn't want to blame the U.S.-system and it's nice to read that the words climb/descend should be included in the clearence. But here are many controlers in some U.S. areas who use the shortened expression. I know it for sure, as I am quite alert to it. Unfortunaltly there are all over the world pilots and controlers who don't stick to standard communication (Sad for me to say, but there are more pilots lacking standard phraseology).
As I said, I don't want to discuss if U.S. or ICAO phraseology is better. But this example shows once more, how important it is for all to communicate according to rules which everybody uses and understandes and why we should say some things one way and not the other.
I expressed earlier, it is difficult for both native and nonnative english-speakers to stick to this somehow artificial phraseology, but it's really a matter of safety.
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:13 pm

The mark of a true professional is to say things by the book and not sound like "Top Gun." Unfortunately, there are controllers who put down their coworkers for not sounding "cool" on freq. and for being too straight laced. It baffles me. On a side note, why do the European carriers that fly the heavy Airbus (330's,340's) only do 130K on departure below four thousand? This really clogs things up. Even when we instruct the crew to increase speed to two five zero, they ignore the instruction, Why?
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:21 pm

One can discuss if ICAO or FAA is better but I have one good example. The FAA have lots of trouble with runway incursions and I think that the fact that several aircraft receive landing oder departure clearances is a big factor to that. For example

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 37):
"Number three, RJ three mile final, RWY 28 cleared to land."

This is completely unthinkable in Germany. We are only allowed to issue a landing or departure clearence if there is no aircraft on the RWY. Even if this means more talking for the controller I think it helps safety.
 
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:33 pm



Quoting Skyman (Reply 44):

This is completely unthinkable in Germany. We are only allowed to issue a landing or departure clearence if there is no aircraft on the RWY. Even if this means more talking for the controller I think it helps safety.

Really? Thats crazy, and would slow down traffic so much. I can't tell you how many times I've been number 1 for takeoff, and get the following.


Tower: Cessna 123 cleared for takeoff 7L, traffic is company 172 on 1 mile final
Cessna 123: Cleared for takeoff 7L.

Followed immeidatly by:

Tower: Cessna 234 cleared to land 7L, company traffic is just taking the runway for takeoff.
Cessna 234: Cleared to land 7L, behind the company traffic.


I don't see any problems with that. Your telling me you can't do that in Germany?

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P3Orion
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:34 pm



Quoting Skyman (Reply 44):
This is completely unthinkable in Germany. We are only allowed to issue a landing or departure clearence if there is no aircraft on the RWY. Even if this means more talking for the controller I think it helps safety.

I disagree, it would create freq. congestion and result in more go arounds which could create an unsafe situation.
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 4:55 pm



Quoting GLEN (Reply 42):
I didn't want to blame the U.S.-system and it's nice to read that the words climb/descend should be included in the clearance.

No should in the handbook, clearly states "climb/descend" not simply maintain unless you are restating an already issued altitude.

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 41):
In the U.S. climb and descent clearences are read " United three twenty two descend and maintain one one thousand" or "climb and maintain one one thousand" it's never just "maintain one one thousand."

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Quoting P3Orion (Reply 43):
The mark of a true professional is to say things by the book and not sound like "Top Gun." Unfortunately, there are controllers who put down their coworkers for not sounding "cool" on freq. and for being too straight laced.

Right until the time they are involved in a situation that requires them to be in front of a lawyer having to explain to the court why they didn't use the phraseology prescribed in the .65!
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 5:10 pm



Quoting Skyman (Reply 44):
The FAA have lots of trouble with runway incursions and I think that the fact that several aircraft receive landing oder departure clearances is a big factor to that.

I must admit, at the beginning you have to get used to these multiple clearences once you fly overseas, but I think it works quite well and is not the main reason for rwy incursions. The main cause for incursions might be the layout of many big airports in U.S. with many crossing Runways and with circular taxiwaysystems (with a lot of small, not always rectangular connections) instead of straight and parallel systems on other airports. So even in daytime you have to be quite concentrated to know where you are and where you have to go, not to speak about nighttime and rain. I'm pretty sure they have much more problems in e.g. ORD or JFK than for example in LAX.

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 43):
On a side note, why do the European carriers that fly the heavy Airbus (330's,340's) only do 130K on departure below four thousand?

Also in my airline until two or three years ago, standard departure procedure was to accelerate only when out of 3000ft AGL, for noise abatement reasons. For the reason you mentioned above, they changed it now to standard 1500 AGL unless higher required by local noise regulations. There are probably still several airlines prescribing higher acceleration altitudes in their flight procedures and there may be also pilots around doing it just the way they did always...
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Pihero
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RE: Control Tower/Air Traffic Control - Language

Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:59 pm



Quoting GLEN (Reply 48):
There are probably still several airlines prescribing higher acceleration altitudes in their flight procedures and there may be also pilots around doing it just the way they did always...

From personal observation, it's the latter. Some pilots feel it is more comfortable at low speeds, as the 330 climbs like a bat out of hell ...but comfort is seldom synonym for safety. But in any case, they should be accelerating - and fast - above 3000 AGL.

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 46):
I disagree, it would create freq. congestion and result in more go arounds which could create an unsafe situation.

Two airports could be compared : Heathrow and Frankfurt/Main. Both won't issue a landing clearance if there's somebody on the runway.
At LHR, spacings are a lot tighter but the controller warns you : "Expect late landing clearance.", and I've seen said landing clearance issued when I was around 300 ft AGL.
In FRA, one would generally get the landing clearance at around 600 ft.
Never had to go-around at either airport.
For comparison, at CDG, the usual message would be : " XXXX, you're number three for runway 26 left. Preceding aircraft is a seven four seven. You're cleared to land."

Quoting P3Orion (Reply 41):
The "expressway visual" is a published Visual Approach procedure to RWY 31 at LGA. It is a common procedure at LGA.

Yes. But people on IFR don't expect to be mixed with "visual" traffic. They expect everybody to be on the same final flight trajectory.
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