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On cherche
à bannir le français des airs !

Bonjour. J’ai trouvé cet article dans la revue américaine AviationWeek &
Space Technology (
Dans l’édition du 13 août,
on y lit que la langue aurait été une des causes majeur d’un accident à l’aéroport
Charles-de-Gaule. Désolé, l’article est en anglais.

Merci de me lire.

Daniel Duclos


French Investigate Runway Incursion

Air traffic controllers’ nighttime situational awareness, takeoff clearance
terminology and
risks of misunderstanding bilingual
radio transmissions
are being investigated by French
civil aviation authorities.

The need to scrutinize such key flight safety
topics results from a runway incursion incident
last year at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport. The
BEA French accident investigation bureau, which
recently completed its report, determined that air
traffic control (ATC) confusion played a critical
role in the incident.

An Air Liberte MD-83 twinjet with 151
passengers on board hit a Streamline Aviation
Shorts 330-100 twin turboprop freighter during a
nighttime takeoff, killing a British flight
crewmember and seriously injuring the other.
Although the MD-83 was beyond V 1 decision
speed when its left wing impacted the 330’s nose, the pilot-in-command aborted
takeoff and
was able to stop the aircraft before Runway 27’s threshold.

The runway incursion occurred at 2:52 a.m. local time. Weather conditions
were fair with
light rain, 6.2-mi. visibility and 10-kt. wind. BEA’s investigators, however,
determined that
ongoing construction work near the runway’s threshold was generating "lighting
aggravated by rain. Powerful floodlights and 10 vehicles with rotating orange
lights on top
interfered with controllers’ visibility near the threshold. CDG, however, is
equipped with
Astre and Aviso radar systems to monitor taxiing aircraft.

The airport’s 270-ft.-high northern control tower is located about 6,000 ft.
from Runway 27’s
threshold and 4,700 ft. from the collision point. The southern control
tower was not manned
that night.

Streamline’s short-takeoff 330, operating Flight 200 to Luton, England, had
taxied to
Runway 27’s No. 16 intersection, about 3,300 ft. from the threshold, while Air
Flight 8807 to Madrid was lining up on the same runway. However, while taxiing,
8807’s crew reported an autothrottle problem and asked to hold for several
Although brief, this delay interrupted the prescribed sequence of events and
disturbed the controllers’ situational awareness.

Flight 8807 was cleared–in French–for
an immediate takeoff, but 8 sec. later, ATC also
cleared Flight 200–in English–to line up
and added he was No. 2 for takeoff. The 330’s
position at intersection 16 and its flight deck’s limited lateral visibility
prevented its crew
from seeing the active runway’s first section. Fifty seconds before impact, the
330’s captain
said, "Where is No. 1? Is he No. 1?"referring to a 737 that had just
landed. The Cockpit
Voice Recorder (CVR) showed that the first officer saw the MD-83 arriving from
the right 1
sec. before impact.

The MD-83’s digital flight data recorder indicated that the aircraft reached
V 1 speed 33 sec.
after brake release. Five seconds later, immediately after reaching rotation
speed, the twinjet’s
left wing hit the 330’s nose. The CVR indicated that the MD-83’s captain saw the
turboprop about 5 sec. before impact and instantly aborted takeoff.

Investigators stressed the need to review and enhance procedures when two
sections of a
runway are used simultaneously. They also emphasized the need to strictly comply
with the
prescribed phraseology, including full identification of aircraft, to designate
intersections and holding points. In addition, clearance to line up behind
another departing
aircraft should be clearly understood, BEA investigators stressed.

In a highly sensitive political context, the BEA also suggested that
DGAC French civil

aviation authority abandon French and use English exclusively at CDG and
other French

airports handling international traffic. English-only ATC would have
significantly enhanced

the situational awareness. The incident involved a British crew who could
not understand

French-language radio transmissions to and from the Air Liberte flight

Only weeks before the fatal incursion, Air France’s flight safety department
had proposed an
English-only ATC rule for its pilots ( AW&ST Apr. 17, 2000, p. 25).

© August 13, 2001 The McGraw-Hill Companies Inc.

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