a broad range of communication issues are commonly cited
in incidents reported to ASRS, the following reports focus
on a single issue - the effect of non-standard situations
on personnel whose English may be limited to "standard"
with a limited command of English often rely upon the context
of the situation to aid their understanding and to prompt
their use of certain phraseology. As noted in the following
reports, a change in the normal sequence of events can result
in a potentially dangerous miscommunication.
language factors detract from precise communications, it
is vital to clear up any ambiguity before acting. This B757
crew's experience at a foreign airport was a case in point
that led to some "sound" advice.
start was uneventful until the after start flows were
accomplished. At that point we experienced a problem with
the left bleed air valve. The MEL (Minimum Equipment List)
showed this as a "return to gate" item. At this
point, I told the mechanic we needed to be towed back
in. His response sounded like he was asking us to release
the parking brake; however, neither of us quite understood
what he had said about the brakes. I asked him if he was
asking us to release the parking brake, to which he responded,
"Release parking brake." I released the parking
brake and the tug operation commenced.
With the tug operation underway, I turned my attention
towards the logbook, thinking about how I was going to
write up this problem. The First Officerwas looking over
the MEL. What seemed like a few seconds after we began
to be tugged, the First Officer asked, "Where is
this guy taking us?" I looked up I saw the end of
the paved ramp approaching rapidly and heard the First
Officer say something about stopping the aircraft. At
that point we were both simultaneously on the brakes.
After leaving about 20 feet of skid marks on the ramp,
the aircraft came to a stop with the nose wheel approximately
eight feet from the end of the paved surface... without
the tug connected!
the aircraft was stopped and the engines shut down, my
next concern was the location of the mechanic and whether
he was okay. He was.
this mechanic speaks fairly good English, I was truly
surprised at the level of communication breakdown that
had just occurred. The mechanic told me he thought I was
telling him that I was releasing the parking brake.
we started rolling he did not tell us to stop, but instead
simply unplugged his headset and got out of the way.
lessons can be learned or relearned from all of this?
First of all this is a reminder of something we all know,
that being towed is an operation which requires someone
to be monitoring the aircraft. Secondly, never assume
anything. Since we never saw the tug pull away (it pulled
away while we were in the books) and we were told to release
the parking brake, we thought we were under tow.
approach briefings, simulator training, and line non-normal
operations flight, someone is always assigned the task
of monitoring the aircraft. Let this serve as a reminder
to do the same during tow operations.
goodness no one was hurt, no metal was bent, and no careers
were put in jeopardy, but we sure came darn close.
crews involved in international operations heed the preceding
advice, similar incidents can be avoided. Unfortunately,
the admonition didn't get out soon enough for this A330
crew. The similarity to the first report is startling and
serves to reinforce the caution that "it can
happen to you."
cargo door light annunciated during pushback and engine
start. The Captain instructed the ground crew to stay
connected because they would have to tow us back to the
gate. The Captain stated to the ground crew (through the
interphone), "Confirm tow bar connected." The
ground coordinator stated, "OK." The Captain
then stated that he was releasing the brakes and did so.
We started to move. When I looked up, we were passing
our gate and increasing speed. We then noticed the wing
walker giving us the stop signal. I said, "I don't
think we're connected." The Captain and I were reluctant
to apply the brakes for fear of snapping and damaging
the nose gear. Soon, the Captain decided that we had traveled
far enough and applied the brakes. We then returned to
the gate under our own power, having realized that the
tow bar had been disconnected.
believe the incident was primarily caused by the inability
of the ground crew to understand English. We were also
busy dealing with checklists and abnormal procedures.
There were no injuries or damage.
Air Traffic Controller's report, a foreign pilot misinterpreted
what appeared to be a clearly stated question. It just happened
to come when the pilot was expecting to hear something else.
#2 was cleared to land on Runway 18R. Aircraft #1 (a foreign
carrier) was told to, "Taxi into position on Runway
27 and hold. Traffic landing Runway 18R." Upon issuing
a wind check, I realized that aircraft #1 had a seven
knot tailwind. I asked if the wind was going to be a problem.
He acknowledged with his call sign for what I thought
was receipt of my transmission, but then he throttled
up and started the departure roll. Aircraft #2 was over
the numbers on flare. I attempted to cancel the takeoff
roll and then proceeded to send aircraft #2 around. By
the time aircraft #2 reached the crossing intersection,
he was approximately 400 feet AGL and aircraft #1 was
approximately 200 feet off his right, approaching rotation
believe that language was the problem. After reviewing
the tapes, I do not see how my question of the tailwind
component was misunderstood as, "Cleared for takeoff"....
I guess the pilot figured that since he was in position
and hold on the runway that my next transmission to him
would be a takeoff clearance.
RVSM Wake Turbulence Reporting Reminder
in the February, 2005 CALLBACK (#305), The FAA has requested
that pilots submit reports (via NASA/ASRS) on wake turbulence
incidents that occur in RVSM airspace (FL290 - 410 inclusive)
in the lower 48 states of the United States, Alaska, Offshore
Airspace, and the San Juan FIR.
reporting specifically on wake turbulence incidents should
submit two forms: (1.) The NASA ASRS General reporting form
for Pilots (NASA ARC 227B). The “Type of Event/Situation”
block on this form should be annotated with the words, “Wake
Turbulence.” (2.) The FAA “Supplemental Wake
Turbulence Information” form.
forms are available for download from the “Safety
Reporting” section of the FAA’s RVSM Documentation
Web Page: http://www.faa.gov/ats/ato/rvsm_documentation.htm
by following the links at the bottom of the page.
reporting on wake turbulence incidents are encouraged to
file individual NASA ASRS reports even if a report has been
filed through their Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP).
in the last issue of CALLBACK, ASRS is now providing an
automated CALLBACK E-mail subscription service (still FREE)
in lieu of the paper copy. We will continue to offer a print
version for those who want to continue receiving paper copies.
With the e-mail subscription our readers will receive a
monthly e-mail notice that informs subscribers that the
new issue of CALLBACK is available and provides a link to
the online version of CALLBACK. Also provided within this
e-mail notice is a link to a PDF version of CALLBACK, links
to the CALLBACK Archive, ASRS Reporting Forms, and the ASRS
Home Page. ASRS’s goal is to give readers immediate
access to our newsletter, and to ASRS resources.
up for the CALLBACK E-mail notice please go to http://asrs.arc.nasa.gov/publications/callback.html. Fill out a short
form and hit submit. Current subscribers to the printed
copy will have the option to opt out and only receive the
e-mail service. We encourage you to assist us in cutting
cost by opting out of the printed version of CALLBACK if
you are capable of receiving the e-mail notification subscription
service. Our first distribution of the e-mail service will
begin with the December issue of CALLBACK.
the staff introductions initiated in the previous issue
of CALLBACK, this month the spotlight falls on…
Fancher joined the ASRS staff in 2003 as an Aviation
Safety Analyst. Ted flew for a major air carrier for
38 years, gaining domestic and international experience
in a variety of large transport aircraft, including
the Convair 340, DC6,7, and 8, B727, B757, B767, B747,
and B747-400. He also served on the Air Line Pilot’s
Association Air Safety Committee. Captain Fancher’s
primary avocation outside of work
is in the field of competitive model aircraft design,
construction, and competition.
He has been the United States National Champion
in Control Line Precision Aerobatics four times and
a member of the U.S. team at three World Championship
competitions. A man of many talents, Ted also enjoys
performing song and dance numbers in productions staged
by local community theatre groups
Alerts Issued in September 2005
or aircraft equipment
facility or procedure
procedure or equipment
policy or maintenance procedure
September 2005 Report Intake
Carrier/Air Taxi Pilots