Information passing

On joining the circuit at [Airfield] I was No.2 in the circuit. I heard the first aircraft call downwind and was able to observe it ahead of myself quite easily. I called ‘downwind’ with the reply from ATC of ‘call final’. As I approached base-leg, I observed the other aircraft turn final but there was no final call. ATC at that point cleared a helicopter to fly-taxy onto the runway in use for take-off. I called the ATC to let them know there was an aircraft on approach at which point ATC asked the helicopter to hold. Situational awareness is important and sometimes it can be helpful to others to pass the information on if something is noticed that might cause a problem.

We all have a collective responsibility for safety and, although we don’t know the full story about what was going on in the mind of ATC in this incident, we commend the reporter for their pro-active call to alert them rather than assume that they were aware of the aircraft on final. ‘Rather be thought a fool than not to speak up’, aviation is littered with incidents and accidents that could have been prevented if incurious observers had taken the opportunity to intervene when they thought that things weren’t right but instead kept quiet because they didn’t want to perhaps be seen to make a mistake. In that respect, we should all treat with courtesy those who speak up, even if it turns out to be in error, because an accident might have been prevented in other circumstances.

Dirty Dozen Human Factors

The following ‘Dirty Dozen’ Human Factors elements were a key part of the CHIRP discussions about this report and are intended to provide food for thought when considering aspects that might be pertinent in similar circumstances.

Awareness – ensuring the situational awareness of ATC and the helicopter pilot.

Communication – timely passage of information

Teamwork – assisting the effectiveness of ATC.

Assertiveness – decisive contribution

loss_of_awareness, poor_communication, teamwork, lack_of_assertiveness