When Declaring an ’Emergency’ Is Not Enough

AINalerts » August 25, 2005
April 9, 2007, 11:58 AM

A 757 crew did not get the response they expected when they declared an “emergency” instead of “mayday.” According to an incident filed with NASA’s Aviation Safety Reporting System, the crew found that the word “emergency” didn’t get the desired results outside U.S. airspace. The crew diverted to an airport in South America and declared an emergency, but the non-English-speaking controllers didn’t recognize what that meant. Therefore, no emergency services such as priority handling, fire or rescue equipment were provided. “The root cause of the problem was that the crew was trained to use the word ’emergency’ rather than ’mayday,’” said ASRS, which noted that the official International Civil Aviation Organization word used to signify an aircraft in distress is “mayday.”

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