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Author Topic: Professional or Unprofessional?  (Read 9495 times)
NAplaya16-ATC
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« on: January 21, 2008, 08:51:28 PM »

I have listened to alot of audio feeds with ATCs who use comedy, make jokes, laugh, speak different languages ("hasta la vista" (BOS john), and just do whatever to make the job more exciting and less stressful., and they do it without creating problems or instances that would possibly create incursions, dangerous situations, etc.   To me, i enjoy listenin to ATCs who do stuff like that b/c like i said it just makes everything more enjoyable.

yet, when i talk to people or read their responses to such work,  some people seem to enjoy it, yet others think it is completely wrong and that it is "completely unprofessional" for them to use "inappropriate terms."   

thoughts about this?   do all of you guys/girls seem to agree or disagree?

-NAplaya
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zmeatc
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2008, 08:55:49 PM »

The way I see it is, stay professional, but have fun doing it. A little good humor here and there doesn't hurt.
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KSYR-pjr
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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2008, 09:19:13 PM »

thoughts about this?   do all of you guys/girls seem to agree or disagree?

As long as this lighter attitude is served up occasionally and outside of routine communications, I don't have a problem with it. If it replaces routine or common instructions, then that I am concerned because it jeopardizes aircraft safety in too many ways to get into in this thread.
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Regards, Peter
ATC Feed:  Syracuse (KSYR), NY
Greg01
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2008, 09:35:28 PM »

Exactly what Peter said. Also, controllers and pilots are human...so keep that in mind. I was just in SYR eariler today to pick up a patient for an Angel Flight and the controller was vectoring us for the ILS 28 (even though it was clear, it was fun to just shoot the approach) and the winds were howling at 2000 feet. So, I get on the radio to the approach controller and said, "Just a heads up approach, at 2000, we're showing the winds 300 @ 35." The response I got was something like "Holy shmoley" or "Wow!" I can't remember.

Sure it wasn't the programmed response "Cirrus xxx, roger" but it got the message across.

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MathFox
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2008, 04:49:40 AM »

As long as this lighter attitude is served up occasionally and outside of routine communications, I don't have a problem with it. If it replaces routine or common instructions, then that I am concerned because it jeopardizes aircraft safety in too many ways to get into in this thread.

It is undeniable that controllers create an atmosphere on frequency. This atmosphere influences what pilots will report; if the mood is too strict some potentially dangerous situations won't get reported or might get reported late. However, you want to avoid chatter as that may drown out serious transmissions. Another issue is to get cooperation from pilots; safety is teamwork and requires people management. Having pilots in a friendly mood makes work easier for ATC.

For people management reasons you want to deviate from strict formalities; having a quasi-relaxed professional atmosphere will work best. The trick is to maintain the balance here, the real good controllers seem to do that subconsciously.
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mk
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« Reply #5 on: January 22, 2008, 10:21:53 AM »

i echo all the responses, a controller's job demands attention; attention on his part and that of all the flight crews in the airpsace.  Nothing drives me crazier than when i'm transmitting more than once to a part 121 or part 135 crew to get their attention.  humor, seriousness or whatever in between is acceptable...just nothing rude, degrading, or unapproapriate....

Chicago app humor....
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Greg01
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« Reply #6 on: January 22, 2008, 10:45:56 AM »

That was hilarious!

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NAplaya16-ATC
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« Reply #7 on: January 22, 2008, 01:33:29 PM »

that CONGA clip is funny as hell!
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NAplaya16-ATC
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« Reply #8 on: January 23, 2008, 05:49:09 PM »

i kinda look at it as,  keep it formal, but informal.   just because i think the more casual you do something, the better you do and you get better results.   im definitely not saying, that a person should completely relax and go joe schmo on the job. however,  the calmer you act, the calmer the pilot will act and things will be accomplished more quickly and efficiently.

im pretty sure im just restating what all of you have said already! lol   im juts kinda adding my 3 cent piece!


-NAplaya
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Greg01
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« Reply #9 on: January 23, 2008, 06:28:56 PM »

I guess that might be the way to say it. As anyone who has heard me talk on the radio can tell you, I think I sound relaxed. Sometimes you hear a guy who sounds like he is going to wet his pants when he's on the radio. I've found that things are usually easier for me that way.

Just my $.02 (sorry, I'm not worth $.03!)  Wink

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NAplaya16-ATC
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« Reply #10 on: January 23, 2008, 08:10:35 PM »

greg,

haha!   hey, im still a student, with no experience at all.  So however much you consider the value of your opinion, i am not even worth a tenth of it!!!   you have experience in the area, so your opinion is well worth more than myself!

-NAplaya
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Greg01
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« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2008, 08:19:07 PM »

I take it from your ID (NAplaya16-ATC) that you're 16. Well, guess what, at most I have a year on you!

Even though I'm instrument rated, I do not count myself among the experienced (like some here and at other places).

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rbrong
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« Reply #12 on: January 23, 2008, 08:54:37 PM »

My two-cents worth is that professionalism is a must.  Safety is the name of the game and making communications clear and concise is what it is all about.  However, this doesn't mean that a controller can't enjoy what they do.  There's one controller here in Reno that always sounds really in to his job.  He's friendly, courteous, and very accommodating.  Every time he hands you off he signs off with a big "See ya!"  When you talk to the guy you end up loving flying that much more.

On the flip side of that there's a different controller here that is always flat and grumpy.  His monotone speaking voice gets the job done just fine but it doesn't do much to inspire you.  I always feel like I have to be extra careful not to screw up for fear of getting scolded (silly, I know).

I believe having an appropriate amount of fun while being professional is the way to go.
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Jason
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« Reply #13 on: January 23, 2008, 09:11:14 PM »

I echo most all of the comments in this thread.  If you haven't already, you'll often notice how far out of the way a pilot will go to help a controller out if that controller is professional, yet has a good sense of humor and presence on the frequency (and vice versa).

Even down here in busy New York airspace, controllers have a good sense of humor if you play by their rules and have a fun time doing it.  It makes the professional relationship between pilots and controllers that much more pleasurable.
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KSYR-pjr
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« Reply #14 on: January 23, 2008, 09:35:00 PM »

If you haven't already, you'll often notice how far out of the way a pilot will go to help a controller out if that controller is professional, yet has a good sense of humor and presence on the frequency (and vice versa).

That's certainly true, but when you really think about it, do we have a choice?  Smiley      Visions of hockey's "penalty box" immediately come to mind.

Based at a class C airport in a small aircraft I am constantly given instructions that either move me out of the way for faster commercial and military aircraft or set me up for abbreviated approaches.  Many times the controller will end his transmission to me with, "thank you very much for your help today," but in reality what choice did I have?  Smiley   They do more for me than I can do for them. 

Kidding in some regard as there have been times I have responded with "unable" when I truly believed the instruction would compromise some aspect of safety but most times I don't have a choice, say if I am being vectored out of the way for faster traffic.  Declare minimum fuel?  Nah, that would only work once.

Don't get me wrong, though. The "thanks" does add to the friendly atmosphere on the frequency but again, it is almost like saying "have a great night" - somewhat meaningless.
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Regards, Peter
ATC Feed:  Syracuse (KSYR), NY
NAplaya16-ATC
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« Reply #15 on: January 23, 2008, 11:41:34 PM »

greg,

naw, 16 is just my favorite number.  im in college at beaver county for ATC.  haha
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Jason
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« Reply #16 on: January 24, 2008, 06:49:13 AM »

That's certainly true, but when you really think about it, do we have a choice?  Smiley      Visions of hockey's "penalty box" immediately come to mind.

Based at a class C airport in a small aircraft I am constantly given instructions that either move me out of the way for faster commercial and military aircraft or set me up for abbreviated approaches.  Many times the controller will end his transmission to me with, "thank you very much for your help today," but in reality what choice did I have?  Smiley   They do more for me than I can do for them.

I agree they help us a tremendous amount and often do more for us than vice versa, but we often do have a choice down here.  Flying out of Westchester County airport, where we're sandwiched between A320s, B717s, CRJs, CL60's, GV's, and a general sampling of GA traffic, I'd be more than happy to extend my downwind three miles and square off the base turn exactly as he/she'd like so approach can clear another aircraft for the sound visual 34.  The controllers are professional but have a fun, friendly tone and sense of humor on the frequency.  In the long scheme of things, this type of attitude helps them do their job, and helps me have fun doing mine, safely.

On the other hand, when a local controller (with a rather nasty tone) holds me on the ground for 36 minutes with the prop spinning for no reason, waiting to depart VFR, he shouldn't expect too much more out of me than is required by FARs.  ...and yes, this happened last August.

Just my thoughts.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2008, 06:55:19 AM by Jason » Logged
Greg01
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« Reply #17 on: January 24, 2008, 10:06:21 AM »

Exactly: relaxed, courteous, friendly, and professional will get the job done easier.

I interned at BUF a year ago and got to know most of the controllers really well. It's nice to be able to help, or get helped in a certain way, if you know what I mean. It has happened a couple of times when a BUF controller would ask me, "Hey Greg, can you do _______ so I could squeeze a 75 arrival somewhere around you...and...caution wake turbulence."

And for me:

"NGF_DC, The current BUF wx is 300 OVC and a half mile, do you want 23 or 32."
"23 would be great, NGF_DC."
"Okey doke, Greg; break; USA1173 and UAL509 I'd like to break you off the approach for an Angel flight who needs to get in."
"NGF_DC fly heading 260 maintain 2500 until established, cleared ILS 23, caution wake turbulence...hoped this helped, Greg."

And so on.

Playa, well, then you have some seniority on me!  Wink

Take care,
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soffs
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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2008, 08:43:16 AM »

Professionalism is the priority, but if it leaves space for some banter, then fine. As long as everything that is required to do and say is being done and said, there is no harm in some occasional humourous talk. For instance the way this one ATC at JFK does. Then again, he is quite often on ground control, which probably leaves a bit more room for banter than for instance final approach. I have also noticed that he does his "humour" bits only with US pilots, never with European or Asian ones, whose mother tongue English is not (in fact, he's not humorous even with British or Irish pilots).

So he does know what he can say with whom and with whom to just to stick to the protocol. And he also knows when he has room to do it. When it gets hectic or otherwise busy, he's very professional, clear and consistent, and always helpful. Then again, to my ears pretty much all JFK ATCs are clear, consistent and helpful. (I rarely listen to other feeds, but I suppose most ATCs in general are like that.)

Occasional "foreign" greeting in my opinion is not out of line (like some Amsterdam ATCs use them regularly), as long as everything that is required to say are said according to the protocol.

I do also appreciate their patience and politeness. It cannot always be easy when you are dealing with Air France and Alitalia. Wink
« Last Edit: January 25, 2008, 08:45:15 AM by soffs » Logged
FlySafe
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« Reply #19 on: January 25, 2008, 09:01:25 AM »

No one ever bought a deal using standard phraseology.... sometimes you have to use plain language to clarify but the more "folksy" language you use the greater the risk for misunderstanding.  Boston John may take liberty on his pronunciation of a call sign but his phraseology is correct he is professional while having fun.
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Natasha  
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NAplaya16-ATC
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« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2008, 04:09:58 PM »

ya i understand what you mean about "folksy" language.

i was visiting beaver tower a couple weeks ago, and one pilot was a few miles north of the airport, she was kinda swerving back and forth, kinda circling around, while also struggling to understand what tower wanted her to do.  apparently, she was on her 1st x-country solo, and on her way back, got off track, her squawk code was off, and was not sure what to do.  the tower instructor gets on the mic, and simply says,

Tower: "cessna....,  are you alright?"

Pilot: "ya, im ok, im on my way back from .....  and i know im off heading."

the instructor realizes that this gal is freaking out a lil, just walked her through the correct squawk code, where to fly, and when to report back to tower, using basic language, which i will highly bet is not standard phraseology.

Tower: "cessna... we have u on radar over this location, please turn to heading (###), and you will the airport off the nose of ur aircraft.  once u have airport in sight, report back to tower."

i stood there and watched the ATC calmly and efficiently guide this girl back in safely.  afterword, she came up to the tower and thanked everyone for her help.

i guess the overall point to this story is that it does not matter what phraseology an atc uses, as long as the action is handled safely and without violating rules.
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RV1
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« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2008, 05:42:58 PM »

Naplaya16-ATC, you are correct. The professional controller should and CAN sound professional as much as possible, but sometimes certain situations call for a gentler handling.
   Case in point: Working arrival traffic for world's largest Experimental airshow, using Simultaneous Operations on Intersecting Runways. (Landing aircraft on two runways that intersect). Air Wisconsin BATP landing on one, Canadian Cessna C177 landing and holding short on the other. Cessna bounced his landing, sidestepped the runway, touched down in the grass between the runway and the taxiway, hit an intersecting taxiway which sent him airborne, he applies power and tries to maintain flight, flies about 15-20' above over 100 aircraft and fuel trucks parked in the grass, and is aimed at the BATP. At this time, my manager and another controller are in the tower screaming about Cessna going around (fortunately, not on any freq.!) My response to Cessna was calmly " Cessna XYZ, when you get it under control, I need you to make a tight right turn and stay east of RY XX, Traffic is still landing on that runway, you can continue the right turn for a right downwind on Ry ZZ and you are still cleared to land on RY ZZ." The Cessna pilot performed perfectly what I asked him to do. Imagine what would have happened had he been yelled at, or given only by the book phraseology!
    There is a way to remain professional and yet human/humane. It is imperative, however, not to lose the frequency due to a chat room type situation!
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Robin Rebhan
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« Reply #22 on: January 31, 2008, 05:16:06 PM »

     Bottom Line is. I have never heard anyone have to ask KBOS John to " Say Again " or " Repeat ", even on long lengthy clearances. His communication is clear and concise.
As a Private Pilot I find everyone has better " situational awareness ", if for no other reason than everbody is listening on freq for the next punch line.
Also communications can get pretty old after awhile leading to the " thousand yard stare syndrome ".
Last but not least. There is enough stress out there without ATC getting so uptight, that tension is passed on to everyone else.

My own opinion. For those without a sense of humor, I doubt aviation is a good career choice to start with or you will be sucking lot liquid Malox anti-acid through a straw.  smiley

Regards,
Robin
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