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Aviation Communication

Between Theory and Practice


Edited By Silvia Hansen-Schirra and Karin Maksymski

This book contains a collection of articles dealing with aviation communication from a practical as well as a theoretical perspective. Its publication arises as a result of the conference «Languages and cultures above the clouds – International English between standardization and everyday aviation communication», which took place on the 4th and 5th November 2010 at the Johannes Gutenberg University in Germersheim. The book substantiates and prospectively encourages an exchange between pilots, air traffic controllers, (language) trainers and researchers, i.e. an exchange between theory and practice. Not only does it contribute to the discussion of communication problems, but also to the development of efficient solutions concerning communication in Air Traffic Control.


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Marcel Mattenberger: “Declaring Emergency” – A Pilot’s View


125 Marcel Mattenberger “Declaring Emergency” – A Pilot’s View 1 Declaring Emergency? I have been working as a pilot for over 30 years starting with flying fighter air- craft in the Air force and, later on, airliners in commercial aviation with a total of over 13,000 hours flight time – and I have never declared an emergency. However, I have spent around 2,000 hours in flight simulators as an instructor and examiner, where pilots are trained in abnormal and emergency situations – and there I hardly attended a simulator session where the crew did not declare an emergency. What is “Declaring Emergency”? A few explanations of safety standards and the communication situation in avia- tion are needed to answer this question. 2 Safety Standards It is common knowledge that the safety standards in aviation are very high and sufficiently devised. I would like to exemplify the safety system on the MD11, a three-engine long-haul aircraft, which has the capacity to fly non-stop 12-hour flights with about 250 passengers (the distance flown is equal to almost a quarter of the circumference of the earth). 2.1 “One System only” Aircraft such as the MD11, the Airbus or the Boeing aircraft are all designed in the same way: every technical system exists either twice or even three times (e.g., three engines or three communication devices). Whenever one of the sys- tems fails, the pilots can rely on the remaining system. When the system is of high importance it exists in triplicate, in order to...

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