Listening to an Air Traffic Conversation is an interesting and informative hobby. Everyday, thousands of airplanes take-off and land at various airports in the World. Pilots communicate with the ground air traffic controller during take-off , cruise and landing. The conversation of the Pilot with the ground air traffic controller is the first clue to any air traffic incident.
Typically, the air traffic controller gives information to the pilots on the safe altitude and the direction that the aircraft has to follow. It is the responsibility of the ATC to ensure that aircraft’s maintain safe distance and altitude from each other to avoid any accidents. In case of an emergency, the ATC directs the aircraft to the nearest possible airport and alerts the appropriate authorities for a quick rescue.
LiveATC.net provides live conversations between the pilots and the air traffic controllers across hundreds of airports. Some conversations are interesting and informative. On 29th April 2007, a Thompson airline’s Boeing 757 aircraft carrying more than 200 passengers from Manchester to Lanzarote hit a bird during take-off, the right engine of the plane caught fire and failed, this was caught live on a camera. Below is an abridged version of the conversation that happened between the pilot and the ATC. Notes about the conversation are given in brackets .
Pilot: May Day, May Day, May Day Thompson 253 hotel, engine failure, we are continuing in the north westerly direction and then inbound towards Wolsey. [ “May Day” is used to denote an emergency situation]
ATC: Thompson 253 hotel, all runway is available for landing, advise if you wish back to us or continue visually 06 left or right surface wind 5 knots [ ATC responds with information required to land]
Pilot: What we are doing is heading in the north-westerly direction, we would like to establish on the inbound radio and towards Wolsey, climb to three and half thousand feet and then we will advise your advised attention.
ATC: Thompson 253 hotel, you may do that, three thousand five hundred feet, keep advised if you wish further climb.
Pilot: Will do May Day Thompson 253 hotel.
ATC: Thompson 253 hotel, runway 09 at Liverpool is also available should you so wish, keep advised.
Pilot: Confirm, 253 hotel.
ATC: Thompson 253, if you wish change to Manchester approach one-two-one decimal three-five-zero or stay with me whichever you prefer. [ ATC asks pilot to switch radio frequencies to the control tower at Manchester]
Pilot:Okay, one-two-one decimal three-five-zero, we are maintaining three and a half, heading towards the hold at Wolsey, I think we will be taking up the hold, we intend to turn back into Manchester at 06 right.
ATC: Thank you very much, 6-right is your preferred runway?
ATC: Keep advised on your contact with one-two-one decimal three-five-zero.
Pilot: [ With Manchester approach] Approach Good Morning, May Day Thompson 253 hotel, maintaining altitude three thousand five hundred inbound towards Wolsey.
Manchester Approach: Thompson 253 hotel Manchester approach, Roger May Day Squawk 7700. [ 7700 is the emergency code of the transponder, setting the plane’s transponder to 7700 highlights the plane’s position in red color on the ATC’s radar and distinguishes it from other planes ]
Pilot: Squawking 7700, to reiterate our intention we are heading towards the hold at Wolsey and we would like to take up the hold and prepare for returning to Manchester 06 right.
Manchester Approach: Thompson 253 hotel, just continue your navigation as required, maintain upto three thousand five hundred feet. QnH is 1023 millibars.
Manchester Approach: Thompson 253 hotel, runway 06 left at Manchester is closed due to debris on the runway from your engine.
Manchester Approach: May Day Thompson 253 further information for you.
Pilot: Go ahead Sir.
Manchester Approach: It looks like it may have been a bird strike; there is bird debris on the runway as well.
The Plane with all its passengers finally landed safely with a single engine running. The youtube video of this is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RPkZBR89y_M