ATC Error (ICAO test film)


ATC Error
Duration – 03:13

You are going to watch a film about an emergency situation caused by an onboard fire. The duration of the film is about three and a half minutes. After watching the film be ready to discuss it and answer the examiner’s questions.

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as planes fly faster and higher it becomes
harder for controllers to track their movements

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today only controllers have an accurate picture
of air traffic

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they use this information to guide pilots
around potential problems

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the pilots themselves have no way to independently
confirm where they are in relation to

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all other flights they must rely on controllers
to tell them

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Labor Day weekend 1986
approach controller Walter White guides Aeromexico

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flight 498 in for a
landing at Los Angeles International Airport

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the airspace around LAX is very tightly controlled
it’s called the TCA the terminal control area

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as Aeromexico flight 498 closes in on the
airport Walter White sees a plane he

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does not expect on his radar
… cruising altitude is 4500 we’d like to…

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ok are right in the middle the TCA sir

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Walter White (hustles) the small plane out of the controlled airspace … 5000 and we run a lot of jets rate through

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their 3500
but White does not realize that there is another

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plane dangerously off course.

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we should be able to see the
ocean by now take a look at the map and look

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around… the The Piper Cherokee is cutting
across the approach to LAX oblivious to the

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the Aeromexico flight is just minutes from

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the national transportation safety board questions

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Walter White about what he saw
on his radar display.

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At any time did you see the Piper Cherokee
on your scope

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no, no sir a Piper’s target was not displayed it
is my belief that it was not on my radar scope

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but when investigators finally
get the air traffic control radar records

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they conclude the piper should have been visible
He was looking at one, trying to keep it clear.

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He lost track of another one just the same
altitude as he approaching to Air mexico jet

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the collision over Los Angeles drew attention
to weaknesses in the radar systems used by

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air traffic
controllers and led to some much-needed improvements

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intruder is an automated program that is now
incorporated in all our major radar facilities.

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that if an aircraft should inadvertently intrude
the controller

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will now be given a visual in an oral alert
this giving him time to override a

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a timely warning to the pilot.
after the collision over Los Angeles radar

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systems at the airport were upgraded

Published on February 8, 2016 by Donatas Category Tag
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  • Andrey Grigorovich

    1)Air traffic control (ATC) is a service provided by ground-based controllers who direct aircraft on the ground and through controlled airspace, and can provide advisory services to aircraft in non-controlled airspace. The primary purpose of ATC worldwide is to prevent collisions, organize and expedite the flow of air traffic, and provide information and other support for pilots.[1] In some countries, ATC plays a security or defensive role, or is operated by the military.

    • Анаконд


      • aviationENGLISHclub

        1) What functions do ATCs perform?
        They control air traffic on the ground and in the air.

        What makes their work vital for flying?
        Because there are a lot of flights needing to use the same airspace, the same airports, and the same runways at almost the same time. Today only controllers have an accurate picture of air traffic.

        What makes the responsibility of ATCs continuously harder?
        As planes fly faster and higher, it becomes harder for controllers to track their movements.

        2) Do pilots have an accurate picture of all air traffic around them?
        No they don’t. Only controllers have an accurate picture of air traffic.

        How can they establish their exact position in relation to other traffic?
        They must rely on controllers to tell them.

        3) What does TCA mean?
        TCA stands for terminal control area. It is airspace around one or more major aerodromes.

        How is the airspace around Los Angeles controlled?
        The airspace around Los Angeles is very tightly controlled.

        4) How many aircraft was the Approach Controller dealing with simultaneously?
        There were two aircraft.

        What were they?
        The first was DC-9 performing flight 498. The second was a small plane that had entered into TCA inadvertently.

        5) What aircraft did he have to pay special attention to? Why?
        There were another aircraft – Piper Cherokee flying through the TCA. It was about to cross the flight’s 498 approach path.

        6) When questioned by the investigators, what did the controller say about each of the three aircraft? Was he able to see them all?
        The controller said that he had been able to see only two aircraft on his radar scope.

        7) Did the recordings confirm his words?
        No, they concluded that the Piper should have been visible.

        According to the expert, what was a possible reason for the mistake?
        Experts supposed that while the controller had been looking at one aircraft and trying to keep it clear he lost another one at the same altitude as the approaching Aeromexico jet.

        8) What changes did the air collision over Los Angeles result in?
        The collision drew attention to weaknesses in the radar systems used by air traffic controllers and led to some improvements.

        9) How were the radar systems improved?
        Mode C Intruder – an automated program was incorporated in all major radar facilities allowing them to alert controllers about any aircraft inadvertently intruding into controlled airspace.

        10) In your opinion, what are other reasons for misunderstanding?
        English language proficiency has always been a paramount factor in providing flight safety. Pilots and ATCs have to know standard phraseology to avoid miscommunication and communication breakdowns during radio exchanges. But Plain English is essential, too, especially in non-routine situations.

        What can they lead to?
        Runway incursion – or unauthorized entry onto an active runway.

        Do you know any examples of non-routine situations caused by misunderstanding?
        The most horrible accident in the history was caused by misunderstanding. In 1977 on the Spanish island of Tenerife two Boeings 747 collided on the runway. There were some other contributing factors, but misunderstanding certainly played its role.

    • aviationENGLISHclub


  • Andrey Grigorovich

    TCA is an aviation term to describe a designated area of controlled airspace surrounding a major airport where there is a high volume of traffic.TCA airspace is normally designed in a circular configuration centered on the geographic coordinates of the airport. TCA includes several levels of increasingly larger areas, creating an “upside-down wedding cake” shape.

    • aviationENGLISHclub

      Nice! thank you !!

  • Sergey G. Zaytsev

    No,they don’t.

    • aviationENGLISHclub

      What do you mean?