Aviation In Canada

Monday, August 15, 2005

Arguments on the Radio

I've seen it several times over the years, initiated from both sides of the radio. Somebody does something wrong or unexpected, and the "affected party" gets the hair on the back their neck up. Suddenly, a question asked turns into a standoff on the radio. So far, in the 13 years I've been in ATC, I haven't seen anyone win one of these arguments.

The biggest problem I have with arguing over the radio is that it gets people riled up. A lot like road rage. The pilots are put upon at a time when they should be concentrating on flying an airplane. The controller, whose mental abilities are also important, is distracted by the situation while it's happening and afterward, as well. Neither side is where he should be mentally after one of these confrontations. It's a major distraction, and, like I say, doesn't resolve anything at the time. There are always emotions that simply stay either on the top or just under the skin and affect everything that happens for a while afterwards.

Everybody makes mistakes, and sometimes the mistakes cost a little to one side or the other. A real point may exist to be made, but the odds of it being made on a radio seem to be so much slimmer than on any other medium, it seems. Sometimes it's just better for everyone to let it go and let karma do its thing. Maybe the offending party, on whatever side of things, will have already seen the mistake and be thinking about it anyway, so the point really doesn't have to be made. It'll at least save the frustration that is likely to come from a radio confrontation.