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Air-Ground Communication

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Revision as of 07:07, 26 February 2008 by Anonymous (talk)
Article Information
Category: Air Ground Communication Air Ground Communication
Content source: Skybrary Skybrary
Content control: Eurocontrol Eurocontrol

Description

Until data link communication comes into widespread use, air traffic control will depend primarily upon voice communications, which are affected by various factors. Any breakdown in communication between pilot and ATCO can result in the pilot not fully understanding and therefore not following his/her clearance correctly. Equally, it may not be possible for the pilot to pass a message to the ATCO. Such hazardous situations have been significant direct or indirect factors in a number of aircraft accidents and incidents.


Types of Communication Breakdown

Communication breakdown may result from:


Effects

Communication breakdown may result in:

  • The pilot not flying the required vertical profile (level bust), or not following the required horizontal profile:
    • Either situation can lead to loss of separation from other aircraft, which may result in collision. This is especially likely when RVSM procedures are in force;
    • Either situation may cause the aircraft to enter protected airspace (airspace infringement);
    • Level bust may also lead to collision with an obstacle or the ground (Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT));
    • Injury, especially to cabin crew or passengers, may be occasioned by violent manoeuvres to avoid collision with other aircraft or the ground, or from wake vortex turbulence encounter;
  • The pilot changing to an incorrect frequency or not implementing a frequency change, leading to:
    • Situational Awareness;
    • Inability to respond to further clearance or to emergency instructions, e.g. avoiding action.

Defences

The principle defence against communication breakdown is adherence to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), particularly in regard to radio discipline.

Defence against the effects of communication breakdown include the following:


Typical Scenarios


Contributory Factors

Solutions

  • Improved pilot and ATCO training to ensure that pilots and ATCOs understand and follow SOPs, particularly with regard to:
  • Recognise and understand respective pilot and ATCO working environments and constraints.
  • Listen to party-line communications as a function of the flight phase.
  • Action by the flight crew to improve Crew Resource Management in order to ensure that:
    • The flight clearance is understood. This includes checking to ensure that both pilots agree and understand the flight clearance;
    • The aircraft follows the flight clearance and does not unintentionally deviate from it. This includes checking the settings made to technical equipment and monitoring the performance of that equipment and the aircraft in order to detect any error or malfunction.
  • Action within ATM to improve Team Resource Management, thereby ensuring that:
    • The flight crew understand the flight clearance;
    • Deviation from an essential element of the clearance is detected and corrected at an early point.
  • Improved technical equipment.


Further Reading

EUROCONTROL Action Plan for Air-Ground Communications Safety

The Complete Action Plan for Air-Ground Communications Safety may be downloaded from the EUROCONTROL "All Clear" web-site: http://www.allclear.aero];

Individual Briefing Notes

HindSight Articles

AGC Safety Letters

Other Material