Av Hazard publicizes safety and operational concerns to help prevent accidents but it works only if we hear from you. Use the postage-free Av Hazard card to describe the hazard and return it to Pro Pilot. To obtain an official FAA review send NASA an ASRS form. For immediate action, call the airport, FBO, ATC, FSDO or the 24-hr FAA Safety Hotline at 800-255-1111. Note: Telephone numbers for all US Towers and ARTCCs are published in Ac-U-Kwik and Pilots Express Airport/Heliport/FBO directories. To report safety concerns outside the US, contact ICAO HQ at 514-954-8219 or via fax at 514-954-6077. ICAO has worldwide telephone and fax numbers to expedite Av Hazard reports to civil aviation authorities.
Weak ATIS frequencies
Flying into both BOS (Logan, Boston MA) and MDW (Midway, Chicago IL), the arrival ATIS frequencies are so weak that other far away stations on the same frequency step on them, making it very difficult to obtain the weather until within approximately 100 nm of the airport. This does not give the crew enough time to plan safely and brief the approach, as we’re in the very busy terminal area by the time the weather conditions are received clearly.
__ ATP, Boeing 717
- Some radio stations are not as powerful as they could be. Newer technology should help, with digital ATIS systems coming online which will transmit weather information more clearly and which, for some aircraft, will do so digitally directly to the cockpit so the pilot does not have to listen, allowing plenty of time for arrival preparation. Glass cockpit designs like the Garmin G1000 continue to evolve and are finding their way into many newer aircraft, including small GA types. Newer software versions have the option to receive up to the minute Metars and TAFs just by placing a cursor over an airport symbol on the moving map. This service is available by XM Radio subscription and is a wealth of information at your fingertips that was not available just 5 years ago.
Chatter on 121.5
(Taken from an ARSA report)
While working the radar position . . . I heard aircraft X call aircraft Y over the 121.5 emergency frequency. This is not uncommon, but [it’s] annoying because it comes out the same loudspeaker as the landline calls and is fairly loud. There was no response to aircraft X’s call. Aircraft Y finally answered after aircraft X had called aircraft Y for the 3rd or 4th time.
At this point, aircraft X said, “We’re going to be arriving just a few minutes behind you, so would you hold the van for us so we can get to the hotel?” I keyed up and said, “This doesn’t sound like an emergency.” Both pilots then responded with comments like “Where’s the Guard Police when you need them?” and “Must not be a very busy night.” The aircraft were at FL 350 and transmitting for hundreds of miles from that altitude. Since this frequency is monitored at [most] ATC facilities, I suspect that their conversation came over the loudspeakers in at least 3 centers, probably a dozen approach controls, dozens of towers, multiple RCOs at AFSS, plus hundreds of commercial and military aircraft cockpits.
I suspect that someone at one of these locations was busy and was probably distracted, at least momentarily, from their primary safety function. I also suspect that the airline has some other method for interaircraft communications. It is events like this that make controllers, and probably pilots, instinctively turn down a speaker that is making noise in the background. A subsequent actual emergency call could go unheard because these pilots chose the inappropriate means to communicate.
- The emergency frequencies are exactly that—pilots should not be using the emergency frequency for idle chitchat or ground transportation arrangements. Almost every pilot has probably tuned the radio away from 121.5 at one point in their career because of a conversation like the one mentioned above. As the controller points out, the next pilot truly needing emergency assistance may be unheard or delayed because of a turned-off radio. Integrity is always doing the right thing even when no one is looking—or listening.
Access to bird strike data
FAA announced on Apr 24 that the public can now go online to search for bird strike information. Data collected since 1990 is now available through an online search engine. Some personal information, such as telephone numbers, is not available, but the remaining fields are. The agency encourages all pilots experiencing bird strikes to report them. Bird strike reports can be filed at wildlife-mitigation.tc.faa. gov/public_html/index.html#access.