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ESL Still A Problem?


deicer
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From the article it appears to be left/right error by ATC so maybe the language problem was with the EVA crew.

To answer your post's question I would say...Yes.

In my opinion it has been and remains the "weakest link" in the chain for several Asian based airlines. Anything unexpected or out of the ordinary with communication can easily generate confusion. Not a great situation especially when errors like this occur. 

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8 minutes ago, blues deville said:

From the article it appears to be left/right error by ATC so maybe the language problem was with the EVA crew.

To answer your post's question I would say...Yes.

In my opinion it has been and remains the "weakest link" in the chain for several Asian based airlines. Anything unexpected or out of the ordinary with communication can easily generate confusion. Not a great situation especially when errors like this occur. 

Slightly confused..... to what post are you referring?? If you are referring to ......

(quote)  What are you thinking - ebonics is her first language? (unquote)

and say "yes" are you not insinuating the controller was an African Black American Female....or did you miss that the previous poster framed his question pertaining to the language problem as a "her".ergo the controller??;)

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I am told this comment is right on: Found it posted on Avherald 

Quote

This whole mess is also a result of non-standard RT phraseology used all over the U.S.

They are native speakers - the vast majority of foreign aircrews is not.

"What are you doing now?" is not standard phaseology.

Neither ist "Turn southbound".

"Turn right/left heading XYZ" would have solved this quickly.


 

Re the controller, here is a link to a news story video that plays some of the conversation between the aircraft and the controller. The aircraft is told to turn "southbound".  

http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2016/12/20/eva-air-777-lax/

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The link you posted certainly proves the bias some have with reference to the controller, (read some of the ignorant the comments). This is a much better link , (below), and I think it shows that EVA was very slow to get turned around. As far as "terminology" goes, I would consider any pilot who does not know what direction is referred to when someone says "south-bound" ought not be flying. As far as the controller's comment "What are you doing??"  I have heard similar comments going into many high density areas, especially when the addressee does not immediately respond to directions.

I would put the blame for this incident as 90% on the EVA pilots and 10% on the controller for using the term "southbound".

Check this link...much clearer as to the lack of action by EVA,,,,,,pilots slow to react

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1 hour ago, Kip Powick said:

The link you posted certainly proves the bias some have with reference to the controller, (read some of the ignorant the comments). This is a much better link , (below), and I think it shows that EVA was very slow to get turned around. As far as "terminology" goes, I would consider any pilot who does not know what direction is referred to when someone says "south-bound" ought not be flying. As far as the controller's comment "What are you doing??"  I have heard similar comments going into many high density areas, especially when the addressee does not immediately respond to directions.

I would put the blame for this incident as 90% on the EVA pilots and 10% on the controller for using the term "southbound".

Check this link...much clearer as to the lack of action by EVA,,,,,,pilots slow to react

I agree they should have know which direction south was but one report has the aircraft heading north, so was it to be hobson's choice as to a left or right turn?  From the video it appears a left turn would have put them directly into a collision course with the AC flight. Shouldn't the controller have given a more comprehensive instruction? Nothing wrong with her english. 

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3 hours ago, blues deville said:

From the article it appears to be left/right error by ATC so maybe the language problem was with the EVA crew.

To answer your post's question I would say...Yes.

In my opinion it has been and remains the "weakest link" in the chain for several Asian based airlines. Anything unexpected or out of the ordinary with communication can easily generate confusion. Not a great situation especially when errors like this occur. 

ESPECIALLY given many American controllers' poor adherence to standard phraseology and sometimes flippant instructions. I remember when the English level requirement came into effect while I was oversees. The Canadian standard was what language you used to write your ATPL exams. Maybe it's changed?

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5 hours ago, Kip Powick said:

Slightly confused..... to what post are you referring?? If you are referring to ......

(quote)  What are you thinking - ebonics is her first language? (unquote)

and say "yes" are you not insinuating the controller was an African Black American Female....or did you miss that the previous poster framed his question pertaining to the language problem as a "her".ergo the controller??;)

Re-read my whole post. I thought I clearly stated I believe problem was the EVA crew, ESL and their delayed understanding of the LAX controllers revised instructions. That's all. :)

"EVA 015 Heavy, what are you doing? Turn southbound now, southbound now. Stop your climb," the controller said after the pilot apparently did not heed her initial instruction.

I have a feeling some or all of the above phrases used by the LAX controller were completely new to the EVA pilots.  

 

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6 hours ago, Kip Powick said:

The link you posted certainly proves the bias some have with reference to the controller, (read some of the ignorant the comments). This is a much better link , (below), and I think it shows that EVA was very slow to get turned around. As far as "terminology" goes, I would consider any pilot who does not know what direction is referred to when someone says "south-bound" ought not be flying. As far as the controller's comment "What are you doing??"  I have heard similar comments going into many high density areas, especially when the addressee does not immediately respond to directions.

I would put the blame for this incident as 90% on the EVA pilots and 10% on the controller for using the term "southbound".

Check this link...much clearer as to the lack of action by EVA,,,,,,pilots slow to react

Wouldn't agree on your % of blame. The controller % goes up IMO when the ATC audio is further reviewed. This is assuming the audio is complete without blocked or missed transmissions 

The initial controller error of a left turn (habit from normal westerly departures?) should have generated a query by the crew for 2 reasons. It was a 270 degree turn and a turn into parallel departures. That didn't happen. Next, ATC then corrects with "right turn, right turn heading 180" which was acknowledged "copy, right turn heading 180". Seconds later ATC instructs "expedite your right turn" which was responded with "roger, we are passing heading 010 continue right turn heading". In the next transmission to the EVA crew ATC instructs "stop your climb" and moments later "turn left, left turn heading 29..correction 270" and EVA responded with "left heading 270". As though ATC forgets her last instruction of left heading 270, the controller (clearly agitated) says "what are you doing? turn southbound now, southbound now, stop your climb" which generates EVA to say "Confirm heading left...right 0..background voice presumably of PF". Getting no response EVA again requests "confirm the heading?" and ATC responds "turn southbound, turn southbound now" to which EVA acknowledges "Roger, turn southbound now". Had the crew turned the shortest distance to southbound (left turn) it would have been appropriate (with confirmation of course) as ATC never gave specific instructions. The crew is then being admonished for appearing northbound when in fact a right turn from heading 270 can only pass through a northerly heading. ATC using the repetitive term "southbound" with no direction (L or R) to EVA veorsus a specific heading (which incidentally all other aircraft received) certainly wasn't the quickest way to get this crew heading in the correct direction. There are many non-standard ATC clearances but IMO many of those occur in non ESL countries. Your blame of 90% on the crew? Was it that they didn't correct ATC's initial error? IMO, EVA followed all ATC's instructions. In the final analysis, ATC should get a good portion of the blame and I'd hazard a guess you will not hear cardinal headings issued as ATC clearances in SoCal airspace. 

 

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Having read HST's post and listening to the recording, I'd have to agree that in this case the controller was having some serious issues with managing this departure. Doesn't sound like a trainee as there would usually be a voice change after so many instructions. At least that has been my expereince when stuff is hitting the fan. There appeared to be a voice change from the EVA crew at one exchange. 

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3 hours ago, HST said:

Wouldn't agree on your % of blame. The controller % goes up IMO when the ATC audio is further reviewed. This is assuming the audio is complete without blocked or missed transmissions ..................

The initial controller error of a left turn (habit from normal westerly departures?) should have generated a query by the crew for 2 reasons. It was a 270 degree turn ................................Was it that they didn't correct ATC's initial error? IMO, EVA followed all ATC's instructions. In the final analysis, ATC should get a good portion of the blame and I'd hazard a guess you will not hear cardinal headings issued as ATC clearances in SoCal airspace. 

 

OK..I will agree that my 10/90 ratio was a "hip-shot" and probably not that fair...however...I have listened to the tape many times and am under the impression that the EVA crew was happily sitting in the pointy end twirling knobs and not aware of the topography they were heading for. They maintained an erroneous heading for far too much time, probably debating the controllers instructions and finally came out of the 'fog' when the voice from EVA changed.

I would think all of us that have flown considerable hours have questioned a controller at one time or another when given questionable instructions..I know I have.

Re Cardinal headings.... Done a lot of flying in the USA particularly on the west coast and east coast and if memory hasn't failed I can remember a few times when in particular where  NY ATC has given me a Cardinal heading when they were trying to figure out what some "lost" soul was doing.

Here is what I vaguely remember upon leaving JFK one night.....

ATC.....SM02 your destination is KCOS , correct?

Me..That is affirmative , just passing 5000 on a heading of 300

ATC...Thank You...just pick up a westerly heading and I will get back to you shortly

Me..Roger, turning left to 270 maintaining 5000 SM02

ATC..Thank you

and about 5 minutes later we were vectored a few more degrees to the SW and cleared to cruising altitude.

If you have ever headed in to ORD on a gloomy day, at rush hour, and got in the line  for an approach it is not unusual to hear some frustrated controller using non- standard RT when chastising someone who is not adhering to the given heading or IAS....

Anyhow..good discussion and the incident shows just how fast things can go wrong.

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6 hours ago, Moon The Loon said:

ESPECIALLY given many American controllers' poor adherence to standard phraseology and sometimes flippant instructions. I remember when the English level requirement came into effect while I was oversees. The Canadian standard was what language you used to write your ATPL exams. Maybe it's changed?

Agreed. While US ATC use of non-standard phraseology is not a problem for US aircrew or other English speaking pilots, those foreign aircrew holding only a level 4 English can be left totally confused by use of local phrases or regional accents. JFK and ORD are two airports where ESL can be a serious problem. 

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7 hours ago, Kip Powick said:

They maintained an erroneous heading for far too much time, probably debating the controllers instructions and finally came out of the 'fog' when the voice from EVA changed.

I'd think all would agree their SA (with respect to terrain and other aircraft) was lacking but the "erroneous heading" was trying to adhere to ATC transmissions which were a series of clearances attempting to correct ATC's initial left turn and EVA's slow reversal of this initial error. I'd submit that the quickest way might well have been to disengage the AP and manually get the aircraft turning to the right considering ATC's use of the term expedite. However,  that's a big ask for this crew, who most likely engaged the AP at 400' and might have been in the midst of a configuration change and or level off. I see your point on cardinal headings and have experienced it first hand at some major US airports. When one is received it usually requires a brief explanation with ESL FO's. Not sure cardinal headings helped here.

A good discussion. 

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From an ATC perspective:

  • EVA015, after take-off 07R, was given a heading  of 180.  The crew made a mistake in reading back a left turn where a right turn would have been quicker;
  • The controller did not catch the bad read-back and therefore lost her opportunity to correct the error.
  • Conflict resolution started with EVA015 stopped at 5000 and turning right; away from ACA788 that had taken off 06R;
  • EVA015 was then given a left turn heading 270 (I'm here presuming that it was meant for ACA788 but she misspoke in the heat of the moment)
  • EVA015 readback the turn to the left (which would have put them back over the mountains) and the read-back (revealing the wrong aircraft responding to her plan) was once again missed.
  • The controller then asked "What are you doing?" to which the answer could have legitimately been: "We're doing what you told us to do and have been doing so all along"!

Read-back and hearback is a huge item in basic and recurrent training in ATC.  I tell all my trainees to insist on a proper readback at all times and then actively listen to it.  These left/right errors or wrong altitudes or headings are quite common; we're talking double digits per day!  They are in fact part and parcel  of the everyday business of aviation.  We expect them as part of the routine.  It is our job, however, as controllers to catch and correct missed instructions.

 

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She also messed up the clearance to American at the end, but it was caught by American.  Understandable that she was getting flustered, but this isn't her fault.  She reverted to helmet fire mode due to the incredibly poor and dangerous departure of EVA.   Hopefully those two aren't ever allowed back.

The terms Southbound etc, are bad habits, and it reared its ugly head here.

 I fly regularly over Russia and China.  There are times a complete radio failure would be preferable over having to deal with these Jokers, although Russia has improved 1000% in the last ten years.  China hasn't.  On most flights, we wind up requesting Phonetic spelling of waypoints.  It really is a place where experience matters, as quite often their own version of "bad habits" are unintelligible unless you've seen and heard it before.

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5 hours ago, Say Again, Over! said:

From an ATC perspective:

  • EVA015, after take-off 07R, was given a heading  of 180.  The crew made a mistake in reading back a left turn where a right turn would have been quicker;
  • The controller did not catch the bad read-back and therefore lost her opportunity to correct the error.
  • Conflict resolution started with EVA015 stopped at 5000 and turning right; away from ACA788 that had taken off 06R;
  • EVA015 was then given a left turn heading 270 (I'm here presuming that it was meant for ACA788 but she misspoke in the heat of the moment)
  • EVA015 readback the turn to the left (which would have put them back over the mountains) and the read-back (revealing the wrong aircraft responding to her plan) was once again missed.
  • The controller then asked "What are you doing?" to which the answer could have legitimately been: "We're doing what you told us to do and have been doing so all along"!

Read-back and hearback is a huge item in basic and recurrent training in ATC.  I tell all my trainees to insist on a proper readback at all times and then actively listen to it.  These left/right errors or wrong altitudes or headings are quite common; we're talking double digits per day!  They are in fact part and parcel  of the everyday business of aviation.  We expect them as part of the routine.  It is our job, however, as controllers to catch and correct missed instructions.

 

The words/instructions "left"and "right" are commonly confused with Chinese speaking flight crew. As a result, the added terms "Lima" and "Romeo" are often used in Chinese airspace to confirm clearances. It might have saved this controller a lot of grief had she backed up the right turn instruction with a "Romeo" as well. Maybe she will next time. 

However, some US flight crews are no better when communicating with Chinese ATC. Their poor use of standard RT sometimes makes for interesting exchanges on the radio.

 

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6 hours ago, Say Again, Over! said:
  • EVA015, after take-off 07R, was given a heading  of 180.  The crew made a mistake in reading back a left turn where a right turn would have been quicker;
  • The controller did not catch the bad read-back and therefore lost her opportunity to correct the error.

According to this article http://www.cbsnews.com/news/jumbo-jets-low-turn-wrong-course-startles-los-angeles-neighborhood/ the FAA is quoted as saying “The air-traffic controller at the approach control who was handling EVA instructed the pilot to make a left turn to a 180-degree heading,” FAA spokesman Gregor said.

 

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I am a firm advocate of using whatever means necessary to be understood.  I make it my responsibility as the controller on duty to make sure that there is no confusion; in the end, if the pilot misunderstood, I choose to ask myself how I could have said it so it was clear and I have, over the years, built my phraseology tools accordingly.  Not surprisingly, it is close to the ICAO standard with a few additions where required and an extra transmission to confirm if need be.  Working in a bilingual environment, I'm often in situations where people are using their second language and have learned to not let anything slip.

Never heard of the Romeo and Lima trick.  Neat! :)

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HST,
I've caught "bad readbacks" where in the end it wasn't that the pilot had readback wrong but rather that I had made a mistake in the instruction I gave.  Either way, listening closely (actively, I might add) for a readback that reflects the desired action is key to pluggin' the hole!

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Say Again, China also uses offfsets exclusively for both weather avoidance and normal separation.  

If you really want the day to start going sideways, try requesting "10 degree Right for 40 miles due weather".  It will be met with silence or clearance to 90000 meters, the only thing for sure is it will be a gong show with hail on the windscreen.  Similarly, if given a hold but not an EFC time, don't bother asking, as they won't know what you're talking about.

Instead, you say " Request 20 miles Right of course( or TwoZero miles Romeo due CB (weather).  This usually ensures everyone is on the same page.

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