New England pilots learn from others’ mistakes, pet peeves

March 18, 2010

While pilots often learn from their own mistakes, it’s best to learn from others’ mistakes in order to avoid potentially dangerous situations. More than 300 pilots attended the Aero Club of New England (ACONE) Crash Course 2010 in Boston March 15 to do just that.

ACONE Crash Course Chair Paul Diette reviewed aviation accidents that occurred in the New England area, while AOPA Air Safety Foundation President Bruce Landsberg profiled some common mistakes pilots make in their radio communications, in the traffic pattern, and in aircraft operation.

In his presentation “Things Other Pilots Do Wrong,” Landsberg discussed topics that pilots said were their pet peeves. The presentation wasn’t just a gripe session, although there were a few pointed remarks; instead, it was meant to point out the safety hazards of some of the actions that irk most pilots.

What was the No. 1 pet peeve regarding radio communication? Pilots broadcasting “any traffic in the area please advise.” The call is unnecessary if you monitor the airport’s CTAF, and it encourages excess chatter, which ties up the frequency.

Other complaints included providing too much information in a radio call, such as unnecessary taxi calls at a nontowered field, using the CTAF as a party line to catch up with buddies, arguing on the CTAF, not listening before transmitting, and stepping on other pilots’ calls. Anticipate what other pilots would need to know and phrase your transmission accordingly. Pretend that words cost 5 cents each. They’re not expensive, but don’t waste them. Landsberg recommended that pilots take the foundation’s online course “ Say It Right: Mastering Radio Communication”.

Other common problems included flying extended patterns, which not only waste time and money, but may also create a collision hazard.

Pilots who couldn’t attend Crash Course may check out the foundation’s Web site to see when the “ Things Other Pilots Do Wrong” seminar will be in their area.