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Features February 2017 Issue

How We Goof with ATC

How We Goof with ATC

Even the best pilots mess up occasionally, but mistakes in a complex and busy air traffic control system can be especially troublesome. Let’s see what we’ve been doing wrong.

Periodically, NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System publishes many of the most meaningful ASRS report submissions that relate to various specific aspects of aviation, such as weather, near-midairs, GPS and the like. We looked at these selected reports covering Air Traffic Control, with a view toward lessons we can learn in dealing with ATC, better practices we can follow, and generally ways to do things better. You’ll note two recurring themes. The first is incorrect pilot readbacks of controller instructions and controllers not catching the mistake. The second is pilots turning incorrectly left, right or to the wrong heading, or similar errors with altitude, as in this first case below.

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