Re: [SystemSafety] Chicago controller halts Delta jet's near-miss....

From: Les Chambers < >
Date: Mon, 6 Jul 2015 11:46:43 +1000


Hi All
Another comment from a working pilot, Dave Phillips. David is with Cathay Pacific.
His routes and aircraft are as follows:
"The only "long haul" route I fly is Auckland Hong Kong and vv. I also fly regionally in Asia - out and back from Hong Kong, in Airbus A330 and 340 aircraft. Standard R/T is a big deal as most of the ATC in Asia is from people for whom English is a second language, talking to flight crews who mostly are also speaking in non native tongues."

Dave's comment on the Midway ATC chatter follows: "Hi Les

I think Bill has hit the nail on the head. When I hear the beginning of the recording, my instant initial reaction is that I am listening to a foreign language. In the next few seconds, as a native English speaker, I begin to attune to the speed and accent, but still struggle with the illogical order in which the information is given, combined with the speed of delivery.

After a few months of exposure I would probably adapt, but pity any pilot who has English as his second language. When such a pilot arrives, he ends up using your suggested method, but only by virtue of several "say agains", which compels the by now irate controller to use extra layers of confirmation.

Your idea at face value is a good one, but I think it would represent a smaller gain in safety than having the controllers speak more clearly and with more standardised language and delivery. In the current climate having the extra "take off approved" transmission would I think just further clog up and confuse an already slightly chaotic situation. I'm not sure it would have solved the problem at Midway either - both aircraft may have assumed the "take off approved" was for them.

Perhaps the system could be trialled at a very busy airport, to see how it actually works - you never know unless you try it.

Kind regards, Dave"



At this point I thought it might be interesting to get the pilot's point of view so I contacted a friend of a friend, Bill McCarthy. Bill was a check pilot for Cathay Pacific. Here are his comments:
---------Start of Bill McCarthy's comments -----------------
I tend to agree with you on a theoretical level. A response by the issuer that they understand the command has been correctly received by the receiver seems like a fail safe system.
On practical level, the current international ATC protocols should be enough, but good luck getting the US to change their can-do and casual attitude to ATC coms.

There are so many aspects of the ATC radio standards in the US that it amazing that this sort of thing does not occur more frequently. 1. Aircraft cleared on RWY 04L with both SW and probably DL to be cleared to take-off prior to that event.
2. Not getting a positive response from SW3818 after he was cleared to T/O. 3. Calls signs should be clearly stated. DL one three two eight, not thirteen twenty-eight.
(I would expect the T/O clearance to be; SW three eight two eight, aircraft 3 mile final for 04L, wind 060/9, clear take-off RW 31 centre, no delay, after T/O turn left 250) Note the order in which the information is given, a logical sequence. The controller was giving information required after take-off before the pilots knew they were cleared. 4. The cross transmissions were an obvious problem and should have been immediately resolved.

 A lot of US airports are 1950's design, are grossly to small for the amount of traffic they carry. Traffic separation standards are well below international standards, both laterally and in distance. Taxiways and runways are not designed for wide body A/C. The list goes on. Then you can add to the mix international carriers with crews who have very limited english language (and flying) skills. Incidentally ICAO had required a minimum English skill level for all International airline crews but they are allowed to self assess!!!

---------End of Bill McCarthy's comments -----------------


-----Original Message-----
From: Peter Bernard Ladkin [mailto:ladkin_at_xxxxxx Sent: Monday, June 29, 2015 3:10 PM
To: Les Chambers
Cc: systemsafety_at_xxxxxx Subject: Re: [SystemSafety] Chicago controller halts Delta jet's near-miss....

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On 2015-06-29 01:28 , Les Chambers wrote:
> Peter Can I clarify your assertion? (This is a message [3] style
communication) Do your words
> below assert that a pilot (as "enshrined in most countries' law ") is
empowered to take off
> without clearance from ATC?

What do you mean by "empowered"? It is not a term I recognise from aviation procedures.

Pilots take off without ATC clearance all the time. I'm sure half the takeoffs I have done were
without clearance. All the flights I have been on in Germany except one were without takeoff
clearance. An ATC clearance for takeoff is not necessarily part of operating procedures.

The pilot in US, UK and German law (and probably Australian although I haven't checked) is able to
undertake any action necessary to ensure the safety of the flight. A pilot who takes off without a
clearance where a clearance is part of the procedures under which heshe is operating will usually be
asked to talk to the regulator in the US, UK and Germany. If the regulator is not convinced that
it was necessary to ensure the safety of the flight, sanctions may ensue, up to loss of license.

It is not unknown, although rare, for pilots doing odd things in the US to be prosecuted by law
enforcement personnel. "Reckless endangerment" or something similar is often charged in such cases.

I am not sure how enlightening it would be to discuss basic aviation law at this level. This is
basic "intro to flight" material such as prospective pilots have to understand at their local
flying club during ab initio flight training. In the US, prospective pilots have to read and
understand FAR Part 91 (14 CFR 91), available from https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/faa_regulations/ . In the UK, it's CAP 393, available
from
http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=1&pagetype=65&appid=11&mode=deta il&id=226&filter=2
Both of these publications concern the rights and responsibilities of pilots. The responsibilities
of ATC are not included in these publications. Here is the document which I believe describes ATC
phraseology and procedures in the US
https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Order/ATC.pdf The general responsibility of ATC is to ensure separation between participating aircraft, and to
effect separation as far as practicable between participating aircraft and others. "Participating"
means aircraft under instrument flight rules. "Non-participating" aircraft will be flying under
visual flight rules, and such aircraft may or may not be talking to ATC. Those that are are said
in the US to be engaged in "flight following". Some of those that are not may have no radio.

PBL Prof. Peter Bernard Ladkin, Faculty of Technology, University of Bielefeld, 33594 Bielefeld, Germany
Je suis Charlie
Tel+msg +49 (0)521 880 7319 www.rvs.uni-bielefeld.de

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