When pilots find themselves headed for trouble, they often forget one of the most useful tools in the cockpit: the push-to-talk button.
That potentially life-saving tool—and many others—are the subjects of a new eight-page AOPA Air Safety Foundation Safety Advisor, now available online. The full-color publication outlines ATC services for pilots in urgent or distress situations and is titled Say Intentions...When You Need ATC's Help.
The free Safety Advisor also provides GA pilots advice on how best to take advantage of those services. It was developed as an integral part of ASF's newest safety seminar of the same name, which will be presented in some 70 locations throughout the country through 2003. The program is offered in cooperation with the FAA's Aviation Safety Program and qualifies for the seminar portion of the FAA's Wings program. (All ASF live safety seminars are open to all pilots, and no admission fee is charged.)
"ATC is one cockpit resource that pilots should not overlook when they're in a deteriorating situation," said ASF Executive Director Bruce Landsberg. "A controller can be an essential part of your team, offering alternatives that may not be obvious. Just remember that you are the pilot in command and reject suggestions that, in your judgment, compromise the safety of the flight. The other important point is not to wait too long before asking for help."
Say Intentions...When You Need ATC's Help points out that many pilots are hesitant to contact ATC, for a variety of reasons. They may fear paperwork or possible enforcement action, they may be nervous about talking to controllers, or they may simply be unaware of what ATC can offer.
The newest ASF Safety Advisor details both the everyday and the emergency services ATC can provide. It explains the terminology controllers expect to hear in an urgent or emergency situation, and how they'll respond to different phrases such as "immediate," "urgent," or "emergency." Say Intentions is filled with little-known truths about handling in-flight emergencies, including the revelation that use of the emergency frequency of 121.5 or the selection of transponder code 7700 may not be your best course of action.
The new publication offers real-life examples of ATC helping pilots work their way out of bad situations. In one case, a controller helped a VFR pilot who had inadvertently entered instrument meteorological conditions in mountainous terrain not only avoid flying into a mountain, but using weather radar data, pilot reports, and a nearby airline crew, located an airport not far away where visual meteorological conditions allowed the pilot to land.
Copies of Say Intentions...When You Need ATC's Help are available in either electronic or printed form by visiting the ASF Web site.
The AOPA Air Safety Foundation is the nation's largest nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to providing aviation education and safety programs for general aviation. Its safety outreach programs, which include Safety Advisors, live and online seminars, videos, and Seminar-in-a-Box programs, is funded largely by donations from individual pilots and companies interested in promoting general aviation safety. Last year, ASF communicated some form of safety message to more than 270,000 pilots.