Tag Archives: video

Nose gear pizzazz


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.


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!



Filed under News, tips

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?

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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!


Filed under learn, News, tips

If she can do it, so can you!

Here’s some encouragement to you, pilots, who are aprehensive towards your ANAC English test. If this girl has been able to fly a plane, with a little effort, you too will be able to pass the test.

Just think outside the shoe!


Se ela consegue, você também consegue!

Eis um incentivo para vocês, pilotos, que estão apreensivos em relação à prova da ANAC. Se essa garota consegue pilotar um avião, com um pouquinho de esforço, você com certeza conseguirá passar na prova!


Filed under tips

Bomb threat

Have you ever thought that there might be a bomb in the airplane you’re on? What would you do if there was a bomb threat on your flight? If you were a pilot, what actions would you take? If you were a flight attendant, how would you keep the passengers calm? If you were a passenger, how would you collaborate with the crewmembers?

The pilots of two cargo flights and all the people on board a passenger flight bound for Chicago had to think about those questions yesterday. Potentially explosive material was found on board two cargo aircraft, one in the U.K. and one in Dubai. Also, a passenger flight from Yemen to Chicago had to land in New York City after being escorted by fighter jets. Was it really a threat? See what is said by news agencies below:

You can read the news here,  here, here and here.
Watch it in video here, here and here. (The last one is a statement given by President Obama)

You may want to check out the different approaches taken by American websites and British ones.

Are you able to answer these questions?

– As a pilot/ flight attendant/ passenger, how would you react to an inspection performed by authorities in search of explosive material?
– What precautions should you take to make sure no objects are out inside your luggage during the flight?
– What items are forbidden to be taken on board due to explosive hazard, and why?
– What’s the difference between “friends” and “allies”?

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Filed under learn, News

Pilots: I want to hear you scream!!

I’m sure the following video will make pilots very upset. Please post your angry comments!  Show everyone this is not true!


Pilotos: quero ouvir vocês gritarem!!

Tenho certeza que o vídeo acima vai deixar os pilotos muito chateados. Por favor, mandem seus comentários! Mostrem que isso não é verdade!

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Filed under Fun fun fun!

Everybody is an expert

It’s always great fun for me to read or listen to news about aircraft accidents or incidents. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that I enjoy the tragedy. What makes me laugh are the uninformed comments made by every Tom, Dick and Harry the press can find in the vicinities of the event. What can I possibly learn from a person who witnessed the accident but who has no technical knowledge whatsoever to analyze the fact? At most, what they felt when they saw the accident, not more than that. It’s great comedy material, though.

For example, a Delta Aircraft performed an emergency landing at JFK airport this week, according to the news as seen here, here and here, because one of the wheels didn’t come down when commanded by the pilots. One of the passengers shot a video of the landing which has been circulating through the Web; Watch the video below, and check out the comments it has triggered:

The broader question here is why they didn’t go through the usual procedures when landing gear is malfunctioning – no go-around to give emergency crews more time to mobilize? No dumping fuel to minimize the explosion if the tanks get lit? You sure you don’t wanna try dropping that landing gear a few more times? The communication around this seems more along the lines of  “Hey guys, our landing gear isn’t working. Here we come!”  Hopefully as details are released, we’ll find out that they jumped through all these hoops. I surely hope if I’m on the next plane with gear issues, we’ll spend at least a few minutes flying in a circle to make sure we’ve tried everything.”

“I would have murdered that stewardess after landing. ‘heads down stay down’ nothing could make me feel more unsafe.”

“I don’t know about any of you, but I’m not getting on any flight that has a number that includes 5, 4, 9, and 1 anytime soon. What a bizarre coincidence.”

So, if we can’t be informed by these coments, at least we can certainly be entertained…


Todo mundo é especialista

Sempre acho divertido ler ou ouvir notícias de acidentes ou incidentes aéreos. Não me entenda mal. Não é que eu goste de uma tragédia. O que me faz rir são os comentários desinformados feitos por qualquer Zé Mané que a imprensa encontra nos arredores do evento. O que diabos de informação pode me passar alguém que presenciou o acidente mas não tem absolutamente nenhum conhecimento técnico para analisar o fato? No máximo, dá para saber o que a pessoa sentiu ao ver o acidente, nada mais do que isso. Por outro lado, dá para rir bastante.

Por exemplo, uma aeronave da empresa Delta fez um pouso de emergência no aeroporto JFK esta semana, de acordo com as notícias que você pode ver nos links acima, supostamente porque uma das rodas do trem de pouso não desceu quando comandada pelos pilotos. Um dos passageiros a bordo fez um vídeo do pouso, que está circulando pela Rede; assista ao vídeo acima, e veja os comentários que  ele desencadeou.

Então, se os comentários não são informativos, pelo menos são uma grande fonte de diversão…

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Filed under Fun fun fun!, News