Thursday, 4 October 2018

Emergency calls explained

While posting the below story about United declaring a "Mayday" I thought I would list the three types of emergency calls aircraft can make and the meaning of each one.

A ‘MAYDAY’ call (from the French word m'aidez meaning help me) indicates an aircraft is in grave and imminent danger and requires immediate assistance. Controllers immediately alert aviation rescue fire fighters (ARFF) services if available, as well as local emergency services, with details on the incident to enable them to respond appropriately and provide information and assistance to pilots throughout the emergency.

A ‘PAN PAN PAN ’ call (from the French word en panne, meaning broken down) is used to describe a less urgent situation but one that still requires attention from air traffic control. In this case, controllers provide information and assistance to pilots as well as informing ARFF or local emergency services as necessary. Examples of ‘pan’ situations include a passenger medical emergency or instrument malfunction.

A "PRIORITY LANDING" call occurs when controllers reschedule aircraft departures and arrivals to allow an aircraft that might have a problem to land as soon as possible. Medical emergencies may lead to priority landings but priority landings are not ‘emergency landings’ or evidence of any actual problem with an aircraft.

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