HomeNewsArticle Display

Air advisors reduce mid-air risks

JALALABAD, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Many Afghan helicopter pilots have years of flying experience, so when 19 hazardous traffic reports were recorded in January and February at Jalalabad; Train, Assist, Advise Command (TAAC) air advisors were not only surprised but concerned, and knew the issue had to be addressed immediately.

“(The situation) presented a major collision hazard to the U.S. and NATO helicopters and fixed-wing traffic that flows in and out each day,” said Capt. Benjamin Sherman, TAAC-Air flight safety advisor. “So we went there with the knowledge that there was an issue, but we were unsure as to the root cause.”

Upon arrival, the mobile advising team discovered the problem was not a lack of flying skills, but rather a communication obstacle.

“The Afghan pilots at Jalalabad are very skilled aviators; however, they lacked English comprehension, and specifically, aviation English,” Sherman said. “Critical instructions such as ‘hold short’ or runway directions were not understood by the Afghan aviators. It was clear that the Afghans were not disregarding instructions intentionally; they just didn’t comprehend what was being asked of them.”

Though English is the international standard for air traffic control communications, many legacy pilots learned to fly when this standard was not enforced. They therefore, didn’t understand many aviation terms used today. This was potentially disastrous because of Jalalabad’s very busy airspace, which is shared by both coalition and Afghan aircraft.

“At any given time there could be 15 or more aircraft on frequency requesting various different instructions from the air traffic controller such as routine departures and arrivals, urgent MEDEVAC’s, immediate departure for troops in contact, training pilots practicing approaches, or simply requesting taxi instructions down the runway to refueling points or parking,” said Timothy Vanderhorst, a Jalalabad airfield manager and air traffic controller. “When everyone understands the plan the controller has and follows the instructions, the traffic flows in and out of the airfield smoothly and efficiently. But the second you add an aircraft that cannot understand the plan or even communicate to the controller where he is and what he wants to do, the situation gets chaotic.”

To improve the situation, TAAC-Air advisors partnered with the controllers to develop a week-long aviation English class. The course covered common phrases and situations the Afghan pilots might encounter.

“With the recent arrival of the mobile advisory team, there have been some noticeable changes in the communications and adherence to instructions from the AAF helicopter pilots. The pilots seem to better understand the controllers, and if they do not, they make the effort to ask the controller to clarify the instructions, which is great,” Vanderhorst said. This is not a process that will happen overnight of course, but it is a step in the right direction. The AAF (Afghan Air Force) pilots are great aviators, and it is a pleasure working with them day-to-day and supporting them in the advancement of their aviation knowledge and abilities.”

Though the TAAC-Air advisors had to leave after the week-long class, American aviators, now knowing the challenge, have continued weekly classes to help their Afghan partners. In addition, TAAC-Air advisors intend to conduct follow-up ground classes and flying training to solidify what the Afghan pilots have already learned.

Engage

Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: Battling #COVID; a cyber Airman’s story - https://t.co/HsJv6J7r2A #ReserveReady #ReserveResilient #ReadyAF https://t.co/y7…
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: #ReserveCitizenAirman makes life-saving decision - https://t.co/ZPviQZRrEX (Story by the @307BombWing) #ReserveReady #Rese
Twitter
The Impact of Sharing Stories of Recovery and Resiliency Lt Col Katharine McGregor did not know much about the… https://t.co/17VibuxnTc
Twitter
Many search for years to find their true passion in life. For Staff Sgt. Camrin Northrop, a firefighter for both th… https://t.co/QcNrBXPCV0
Twitter
From their homes to yours, check out the @AirNatlGuard Band of the South! #ReadyAF #AimHigh https://t.co/yb7GhZZ5A3
Twitter
Reintegration will be a deliberate & phased approach to protect Airmen & Space Professionals. Learn to maintain rea… https://t.co/egQSAV5uRB
Twitter
The MQ-1B Predator is an armed, multi-mission, medium-altitude, long-endurance remotely piloted aircraft used for i… https://t.co/livZYQyXnH
Twitter
Dr. Quinton Sasnett, a faculty member at Air University, talks about the university's civilian associates degree pr… https://t.co/0BgoCiGCUy
Twitter
Improving mental health through expressive writing. @KadenaAirBase https://t.co/zVoYTQQl5z
Twitter
Medical pros at Kadena Air Base, 3-D printed naso-pharyngeal swabs to test potential #COVID19 patients. The dental… https://t.co/h8q1HgLjRZ
Twitter
The MC-12W is a medium-to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft. Its primary mission is providing intelligen… https://t.co/st7WRJLDHB
Twitter
Know what resources, treatments & therapies are available for invisible wounds. https://t.co/H2A7fYb8s3
Twitter
“The Total Force team at Eielson plays a pivotal role that extends throughout Alaska and projects into the Arctic.”… https://t.co/7nSYEtYWHj
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: 🙌🎉 Congrats to the @usairforce's newest pilots as Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 20-18 graduates today at @…
Twitter
.@JointBasePHH Airmen participate in a ramp drop from a C-17 Globemaster III. The 25th Air Support Ops Squadron is… https://t.co/AZVT6Qzmgv
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: It is a pleasure to be in #Alaska to see #Airmen and #SpaceProfessionals in action! Whether it’s F-35s & F-22s protectin…
Twitter
RT @EielsonAirForce: When @SecAFOfficial comes to visit, we show off the 'cool stuff' https://t.co/sGCSnVOOXg
Twitter
RT @USAFReserve: A career worth a thousand words: Colonel Campbell reflects on career in aviation - https://t.co/atNAeYOoMI (Story by @Dobb
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,252,627
Follow Us