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Aviation Industry
Sunday, June 1, 2008
Being bullied

We are all being bullied into the view that it’s no good unless it’s electronic. That’s a far cry from reality in the cockpit. Many of the most horrific crashes have had to do with misunderstanding of language between aircrew members and between them and ATC.

ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) introduced the concept of English to be the language of the air with minimum standards being set. It seems that little emphasis is being placed on this by many countries. Even inside the aircraft there are multiple problems with Captain, Co-Pilot and cabin crew being of different nationalities – then flying into a totally foreign airport. Paperless cockpits add to the problem with the use of electronic translators that have less accuracy than the spellchecker on your computer. With the old paper flight manual you could at least make margin notes and other helpful things where the written words were unclear. In 1993 a China Airliner went down with the last words on the Cockpit Voice Recorder being heard as, “What does pull up mean?”
In the USA there is another problem with ATCs who refuse to use ordinary English (and we know what Churchill said about that) and happily use expressions like “Join the Conga” or “Follow the snake”. What a non- American pilot is supposed to make of that I do not know.
The problem is that few countries are in a rush to deal with this problem, which is going to get much worse before it gets any better, with a concomitant huge loss of life. By Henry Tours

Copyright © Insurance Times and Investments® Vol:21.5 1st June, 2008
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