to the FAA's Pilot/Controller Glossary, an Emergency is
"a distress or an urgency condition." The Glossary
defines distress as "a condition of being threatened
by serious and/or imminent danger and requiring immediate
assistance." Urgency is defined as "a condition
of being concerned about safety and of requiring timely
but not immediate assistance; a potential distress condition."
most would agree on what constitutes a distress condition
(e.g. fire, mechanical failure, structural damage), the challenge
appears to be for pilots and controllers to recognize when
an "urgent" condition justifies declaring an emergency.
Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) states: "...Some
are reluctant to report an urgency condition when they encounter
situations which may not be immediately perilous, but are
following ASRS reports show that air traffic controllers may
have another viewpoint regarding the need to use the "E"word.
B757 crew learned that once an emergency has been declared,
controllers can redirect traffic and take the steps necessary
to prevent a bad situation from getting worse.
went below minimums. We decided to divert. While on vectors
to ZZZ1 Runway 31R, the weather went below minimums. We
were switched to Runway 4. On final to Runway 4, ZZZ1
was closed to all traffic. ATC asked our intentions. We
responded that we needed to divert to ZZZ2, which was
still open, and declared "minimum fuel" (we
had 8,300 pounds). Approach control gave us a vector for
ZZZ2 and told us that they were declaring us a "fuel
emergency." We responded that we were only stating,
"minimum fuel." The controller said, "Trust
me. Looking at the traffic in your area, you need to be
an emergency." I trust that the controller was correct
in declaring the emergency. We could not see the traffic
that we would have been behind without the expedited handling.
the non-emergency equipment."
airline Captain related how an aircraft system problem was
handled in a professional manner and without declaring an
emergency. Reporting on the same incident, the First Officer
expressed concern that an emergency was not declared.
was no report from ATC, but it would have been interesting
to have the controller's perspective on the situation. Apparently,
there was some confusion and we can assume that the controller
would agree that if a situation warrants calling out the
airport's emergency equipment then it warrants declaring
45 minutes into the flight, we got an ECAM (Electronic Centralized
Aircraft Monitor) Hydraulic System Low Quantity indication followed
by a Hydraulic System Low Pressure.... I did the ECAM actions
then pulled out the flight handbook and reviewed the action
items.... Crew, dispatch, and maintenance agreed that continuing
to ZZZ was a safe course of action. I requested that dispatch
coordinate with the ATC representative to get...at least a ten
mile final to allow time to lower flaps and gear and to assure
use of the longest runway due the winds and no nosewheel steering.
I also asked for the emergency equipment as the checklist led
us to believe that manual gear extension was not 100% assured....
We had a normal touchdown, stopped using brakes only, cleared
the runway, and got towed to the gate... We did not declare
an emergency during this event.
the First Officer's report:
biggest concern, looking back on the incident, was that we did
not declare an emergency. We did ask for the fire trucks. The
possibility of gear collapse was not specifically outlined in
the flight manual. We only inferred it from some of the notes
when we read ahead to the Partial Gear Irregular Checklist.
By not declaring an emergency, but then asking for the equipment
to be standing by, it seemed to cause some confusion for ATC.
the controllers made traffic adjustments to accommodate
this returning MD-80, it would have been helpful for the
crew to accommodate ATC with a little more information.
Flight XXX advised the local controller that they needed to
return for landing. Local control worked them into right traffic
for Runway 28. The crew was asked if they were declaring an
emergency or needed assistance. They replied, "No,"
but traffic was sent around and/or moved to another runway to
accommodate them. After they landed, it was discovered that
smoke in the cabin was the reason for the return. All of us
in the tower would have felt more comfortable knowing this and
having the crew declare an emergency or declaring it ourselves.
official ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization)
word used to signify an aircraft in distress is, "MAYDAY."
A B757 crew found that the word "Emergency" may
not get the desired results outside of U.S. airspace.
into ZZZ [South America] and declared an emergency, but the
non-English speaking controller didn't recognize what that meant.
So, no standard services such as priority handling, fire/rescue
equipment, etc. were provided.... The root cause of the problem
was that the crew was trained to use "Emergency"
rather than "MAYDAY."
information on Emergency terminology and procedures can
be found in FAR Section 91.3 and AIM Chapter 6.
is another word that has difficulty getting past the lips
of aviation professionals. It is clear from the following
ASRS reports that there are times when a little assistance
is appropriate. Getting professional help can do wonders
for lowering stress levels (to say nothing of the accident
maintenance technician, pilots, and controller who submitted
these reports all had a brush
with misfortune that could have lead to serious consequences.
The lesson common to each of their experiences is to ask
for help when it is needed. Don't brush
it off. Never be too busy,
self-conscious, or hesitant
to ask for help.
aircraft arrived with the #2 electrical hydraulic pump inoperative.
We replaced the pump and it tested OK. The head pressure had
been bled off and resulted in a "Reservoir Pressurization"
light being on. As I was correcting the paperwork, I had a technician
from another airline, three of my own maintenance crew, and
the flight crew all providing me with information. While this
was going on, I entered the wrong information and code to clear
the hydraulic pump. I inadvertently re-deferred the pump and
listed the reservoir light as a continuing problem. In effect,
I dispatched an illegal aircraft.... I was too busy to do what
I should have done; sought the help of a senior mechanic to
help with lead duties as I made the computer input.
received taxi clearance to Runway 17... As I taxied onto the
parallel taxiway, I noticed that there was construction ahead....
At the end of the ramp, I taxied toward the approach end of
the runway... The controller advised me that I was past the
hold line and to contact the tower as soon as possible.... I
feel that the tower could have given more information on the
end of the taxiway/holding area, but I am at fault for not asking
for help when I knew I needed it. Next time I will be more aware
of the signs on the airport and I will not be reluctant to ask
As I approached ZZZ, I did not believe the VOR's were malfunctioning.
I thought I knew where I was, but...as I descended into a cloud
layer, I became disoriented and concerned that the localizer
wasn't functioning properly. Instead of asking for help, I saw
the ground through holes in the clouds and continued on toward
where I knew the airport to be. I was nowhere close to being
on the approach and as a result, interfered with the approach
of another aircraft. [A] contributing factor was... my unwillingness
to ask for help when I realized I was disoriented. At any point,
I could have asked ATC for help, but I did not.
departed...on a really hazy day...with a Special VFR clearance.
On the second leg of a multi-leg cross-country flight, I found
myself in a situation where I was not completely sure of my
location. I mistakenly identified the airport and approach asked
me to switch to the CTAF frequency. When I realized that I could
not see the airport, I decided to continue on the next leg to
ZZZ. At this point I should have reestablished contact with
approach control and requested assistance... but, truthfully,
I was too self-conscious about admitting that I couldn't find
the airport and opted to continue on my own.... I had been to
ZZZ several times, but today with my rising personal frustration
level, I was completely unable to locate the airport.... I was
becoming more and more disoriented and...wasn't really sure
if I was going the right direction.... Now I knew...that I was
completely lost.... While I wasn't in imminent danger of running
out of fuel, I became quite concerned about how I was going
to get home.... I was flying in VMC, but the haze layer below
made it difficult to ascertain surface details. I returned to
the last frequency I had for approach. They asked me to squawk
7700.... The haze layer was still quite dense, but with vectors
from ATC, the return trip was uneventful....
realize that I should have admitted my mistake to approach
control.... I know they will do everything they can-
if one simply asks for help.
was controlling numerous aircraft on several frequencies. There
was considerable congestion and many blocked transmissions.
There were other controllers available, but a decision was made
to use a coordinator rather than splitting the sector. There
was too much to keep track of.... [Two aircraft] came within
one mile and 100 feet separation. The conflict alert brought
my attention to the problem. Had the alert not been operational,
the result might have been catastrophic. I issued traffic alerts
to [both aircraft].
was too much traffic for one controller to safely handle.
I should not have hesitated to ask for help....
announced in Callback # 307 (April 2005), NASA/ASRS is conducting
a General Aviation Weather Encounters Study. To support
FAA and industry efforts to improve awareness, knowledge,
training, and procedures related to aviation weather, ASRS
strongly encourages general aviation pilots who experience
adverse weather encounters to report these incidents to
ASRS and to participate in the Weather Encounters Study.
Alerts Issued in June 2005
or aircraft equipment
facility or procedure
procedure or equipment
Publication, or Nav Database
June 2005 Report Intake
Carrier/Air Taxi Pilots