Category Archives: News

Nose gear pizzazz

Image

Guys! You didn’t have to go through this just to get me to write again! I’m kidding, of course, what I mean is that this event has been relevant enough to make me find some time to post on the blog. Yay!

I’m referring to the precautionary landing made by a TAM A330 last September 26 at JFK International Airport, in New York City. As they were approaching, pilots received indication that their nose wheel steering might not be fully functional, so they decided to go around and run some checks, after which they attempted a second approach. This time, the tower informed them that their nose wheel seemed to be cocked at a 90º angle. Even so, they decided to land, which they did without any problem, as the nose wheel just realigned by itself.

I received the audio recording of the exchange between pilots and ATC almost immediately after the fact, and since then I’ve been asked by various students to confirm that the pilots in question “speak bad English”. I wouldn’t say that.

After all, they were able to make themselves understood by several American controllers, and managed to sort out the problem relatively smoothly. Some mistakes were made, but none of them really affected the communication. Obviously, the Brazilian pilots have a… guess what? A Brazilian accent! (No?! Really?!) That’s not an issue according to the ICAO guidelines, although I have to confess that this is what surprised me the most, being that Brazilian English proficiency examiners tend to be quite prejudiced against their own accent, sometimes issuing candidates a 3 in Pronunciation, when in fact what they have is a regional accent, being totally intelligible nonetheless.

Having said that, we can certainly use this event to help us develop our own linguistic skills, why not? So, I do have a few pointers for students:

1. If you listen to the recording, you will notice that at some points the pilots hesitate and include meaningless pauses in between words. As seen on the ICAO Language Proficiency Rating Scale, in Fluency, pauses and hesitation may hinder effective communication. My suggestion is: as much as possible, think first and then speak. Take a few seconds to prepare yourself before starting your exchange, to avoid these unnecessary pauses, as they might make your message less clear to the interlocutor.

2. Work on your communicative strategies. You will also notice that the Brazilian pilots kept using the terms “maintain the runway” to mean that they would probably have to stay on the runway after landing, that they wouldn’t be able to clear it by themselves without assistance. At one point, a controller urges them to confirm this information, and he clearly says “understand you’re gonna stay on the runway, is that correct?”. Even after this intervention, all the other pilots keep using “maintain the runway“. My tip is: adopt words used by your interlocutor, because they are part of their repertoire, thus have a better chance of being understood.

That’s it, basically, although I’ve been giving my students more specific pointers as we listen to the recording together in class. It’s a very rich material, there’s a lot of useful vocabulary, besides being a wonderful listening comprehension piece.

Image

Now, just to illustrate it, here are more resources on the topic, so you can polish your reading and listening skills:

A news video on the subject

The audio recording

The incident as reported by The Aviation Herald

A video on investigations on Airbus landing gear

The report and video of the 2005 similar incident with JetBlue A320

Did you have any trouble understanding any of the texts/ videos? Book some classes!

5 Comments

Filed under News, tips

Hallelujah!!

Good news, everyone! The Royal British Academy has finally succumbed to the pressure of billions of non-native speakers of English and has changed one of the features of the English language that cause the most trouble to these people: the irregular verbs.

Everyone who has ever studied the Past and Perfect tenses in English knows what a nightmare it can be to memorize all those irregular forms of the verbs, both in their past form and in their past participle form.

Of course it is difficult, because there are absolutely no rules you can apply to help you remember them. For instance, why is it that ‘bring’ goes ‘bring- brought- brought’ and ‘ring’ goes ‘ring- rang- rung’? Don’t they both end in ‘ing’? What about ‘show’? It pretends to be regular, because its past form is ‘showed’, but then it shows its true face, and the past participle goes ‘shown’! No way!

So it was to put an end to this torture that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, along with the Prime Minister, Mr David Cameron, has finally convincend the High Board of the Royal British Academy to abolish irregular verbs from the English language. Quoting the new rule, which was written on the Great Book Of English, “As per request of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II, the declination of verbs into the past and past participle forms is henceforth banned from the English language”.

What does this mean to you, English student? No more time wasted memorizing endless lists of crazy verbs! Some examples: the past and past participle of ‘go’ (the second and the third columns, as they are usually referred to) will become simple ‘goed’. Likewise, ‘buy’ will now be ‘buyed’, ‘see’ will be ‘seed’ and ‘fly’ will be ‘flied’ (you still have to follow the spelling rules though).

So throw your books away and enjoy!

==========================================================

For those of you who haven’t noticed yet, this post is just an April Fool’s prank! I know that this particular piece of news would make a whole lot of students happy, and I thought, ‘why not?’… I hope you haven’t gotten too downhearted to realize you will still have to memorize irregular verbs for many many years to come…

But come on, it’s not that hard!

3 Comments

Filed under Fun fun fun!, News, tips

A prova da ANAC mudou?

“Anda rolando uma AFA”…

É assim que meus alunos começam a frase quando querem que eu confirme alguma informação a respeito das exigências da ANAC -na verdade, da OACI (estou escrevendo em português, e é assim que chamamos a ICAO nas línguas latinas).

Pois bem, “anda rolando uma AFA” de que a prova da ANAC mudou, que tem novas exigências, e tem até curso de inglês capitalizando em cima disso…

Vamos direto ao ponto: A PROVA DA ANAC NÃO MUDOU. Continua igualzinha. O mesmo formato, a mesma duração, os mesmos critérios de avaliação, o mesmo nível de exigência.

Esta é a página da ANAC que trata da Proficiência Lingüística. Nela, encontra-se este outro link, que leva a uma explicação detalhada do Santos Dumont English Assessment, ou “prova da ANAC”, para os íntimos.

Para quem tem curiosidade de saber como é a prova, há um MOCK disponível , ou seja, uma versão simulada, que não está sendo utilizada pelos examinadores no momento, mas é exatamente o “script” que eles têm à sua frente enquanto estão aplicando a prova nos pilotos. E continua idêntico ao que sempre foi, portanto essa “informação”, ou desinformação, não tem nenhum embasamento na realidade.

Então, não dê ouvidos a blá blá blá e concentre-se nos seus estudos, que você ganha mais!

Então, por que tem pilotos indo fazer a prova em Madri? Oras, eu já estive em Madri, tenho até parentes lá, e é uma cidade linda. Quem sabe eles estão indo visitar A Plaza Mayor, La Puerta del Sol, ou o Museo del Prado, né? Aliás, eu recomendo a visita, são todos lugares fantásticos!

Agora, se você estiver precisando de ajuda para praticar para a prova da ANAC, entre em contato para fazermos algumas aulas! Eu também continuo a mesma, igualzinha…

6 Comments

Filed under about the blog, News, tips, Typical pilot mistakes

A Rescue Mission Gone Wrong

This video was sent to me by a former student, M.V. (thanks, by the way!).

It is a great material to practice listening comprehension because it’s a piece of news, beautifully told by CBS news correspondent Bruce Dunning. Of course, it’s also a historical document of the horrors of war.

The aircraft had been sent to Da Nang short before the end of the Vietnam War in order to evacuate women and children. Instead, it landed in Saigon full of soldiers who defected the South Vietnamese regime, and had crammed inside the plane, leaving behind the people to whom the rescue mission was intended.

As you watch the video on a new window, try to answer these questions:

1) When did this happen? (day + month)
2) How did the people run after the plane as it landed in Da Nang?
3) What did the pilots report via radio when the people started boarding the plane?
5) What did the angry men left behind do?
6) What part of the aircraft was damaged by a grenade?
7) How high was the plane when seven men fell off?
8) How many passangers were there on board? Of these, how many were women and children?
9) Why did the plane have to fly at low altitude?
10) Summarize the total damage the aircraft suffered.
11) How long does this trip usually take? How long did it take on that day?
12) Where did the soldiers come out of when the plane finally landed?

Here’s the video.

Did you have trouble understanding the video or answering the questions? Why not take some classes?

Leave a comment

Filed under learn, News, tips

The Addams Family

Who has never watched The Addams on TV? If you’re  over 30, that is. Well, today their creator, Charles Addams, would be 100 years old.

Just for fun, let’s see if you can match the names of the characters in English to their counterparts in Portuguese:

English: Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Lurch, Grandmama, Wednesday, Pugsley, Thing, Cousin Itt.

Portuguese: Vandinha, Vovó Addams, Gomez, Tropeço, Mãozinha, Tio Chico, Primo Coisa, Mortícia, Feioso.

2 Comments

Filed under Fun fun fun!, News, Translation and Interpretation

What’s your take on strikes?

What’s your take on strikes? And I’m not talking about bowling.

Workers go on strike when they refuse to work and even prevent other from working in order to draw attention to a specific situation they’re not happy about, such as salary, benefits, working conditions, discrimination, etc, supposedly when they have exhausted all other forms of negotiation with employers.  The refusal to work may cause employers to cave in, for the longer the strike, the higher the losses.

 

We have seen a series of strikes lately, involving essential services such as the mail and banking services, as well as air transport and even medical services. I’m sure these workers had their justifiable reasons to go on strike. However, the sad truth is that the ones who suffered the most from the effects of this legal and democratic manifestation of citizenship were the citizens themselves.

It’s a shame that human beings, with their exceptional power of communication, cannot seem to agree on something as basic as working conditions…

Well, you can read these articles to know more about the recent labor strikes:

Qantas:      article 1        article 2     article 3

Brazil Postal workers:     article 1         article 2      article 3

1 Comment

Filed under learn, News, tips

Mixed signals

Here is an extremely interesting documentary video showing that every accident – whether it involves a plane, a car, a train, a bicycle or a walking human being – is the result of a series of (apparently unconnected) factors which coincide to cause an uncontrollable situation.

What we must have in mind is that every accident is avoidable. Every link of the chain must be checked to make sure that it can withstand the force it is intended to. In other words, everyone involved in any given process must do their job responsibly, no matter how menial and unimportant it may seem. After all, sometimes a tiny insect can destroy a huge airplane…

Watch the whole video (5 parts altogether) to practice your listening skills.

Then, practice vocabulary, grammar and fluency, explaining these acronyms and abbreviations which appear on the video.

TOGA   /   ADI   /   NTSB   /   CVR   /   FAA   /   FDR   /   CRM   /   ATC

Problems with vocabulary? Let me know how I can help!

2 Comments

Filed under learn, News, tips