Stress and the human factor

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Having a bad day?

Spare a thought for this air traffic controller (ATC) who was on the receiving end of an angry rant from a pilot for doing his job.

The incident happened in United States at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport when a flight proceeded to taxiway Mike, rather than going to taxiway Lima. But when the controller queried the pilot’s actions, the pilot erupted:

‘Hey, you know what, we’ll taxi out there any way we want unless you tell us to; I don’t like your attitude,’ he replied.

The controller kept his calm and assured the pilot ‘I don’t have an attitude, sir; I’m just saying it looks like you joined Lima instead of Mike and I’m just trying to correct you before you stay on Lima.’

But the pilot continued ‘Like oh my God, there’s another plane out there, like six miles away. Your attitude is really something sir. We’re out here on Mike. Good morning.’

‘Good morning,’ the controller persisted. “There was no attitude. I was just trying to correct you. That’s my job to correct you if you mess up, and make sure everybody’s doing what I ask them to do for certain reasons.’

‘All right, I make a mistake every two to three minutes but my attitude is not like yours,” the pilot said. ‘We’re out on Mike and you didn’t tell us how to get there, so next time you can try doing that.’

Hearing the heated exchange, another pilot chimed in, ‘Settle down, Captain Happy.’

Human factors play an important role in safety critical jobs with stress, fatigue and poor communication all having the ability to impact safety. Perhaps this pilot should get himself a copy of the Human Factors for Pilots resource kit and check out other human factors safety information at the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s website.

You can hear the rant in the below audio clip, beginning at 1:50:



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