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Thread: Pan Vs Mayday

  1. #1
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    Default Pan Vs Mayday

    Discussions raging elsewhere on the applicability of PAN vs. MAYDAY calls, and when the future viability of the craft is in doubt, how the Mayday should be used.

    In a number instances, Co. SOPs will dictate the call - but at the end of the day, the PIC will make the decision on what to declare.

    Here is a good summation from UK AAIB on the fuel emergency declared by a VIR 744 near EGKK, and the appropriateness of the Mayday use.

    Personally, I would prefer to declare a Mayday and downgrade to PAN in all instances - this gets everyone on their toes and clears the way for immediate terra firma...and when the nature of the emergency is clearer and under control, donwgrade to PAN whilst still preserving priority.

    Boeing 747-443, G-VROM 07-07.pdf
    What are the three words guaranteed to humiliate men everywhere?
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  2. #2

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    I saw that discussion 'elsewhere,' too.

    One issue that was raised: If the aircraft in question had declared PAN, and -- unlikely as it is, but not impossible -- another aircraft had declared MAYDAY at around the same time (for whatever reason), the MAYDAY a/c would necessarily have been given landing priority over the PAN a/c.

    Makes ya wonder what would happen if two a/c in the same pattern declared MAYDAY at around the same time. Yikes!

    Anyone know if this has ever happened?

    And, is PAN widely used outside the UK these days? Or does everybody (and their airlines) prefer the scenario that Beacher describes: declaring MAYDAY and then downgrading to PAN if things get under control?
    Dr. Bobbie Sullivan

    Crew health & stress research -- http://AircrewHealth.com

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    Yes Bobbie - its an interesting one. Swissair 111, declared initially a PAN, and upgraded it to Mayday status - in the end it was all pretty academic for those poor souls on board the MD-11 above Peggy's Cove...

    Officially from Transport Canada....

    The radiotelephone distress signal to indicate grave and/or imminent danger requiring immediate assistance is

    MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY.

    The radiotelephone urgency signal to indicate a condition concerning the safety of an aircraft, vehicle or of some person on board which does not require immediate assistance is

    PAN PAN, PAN PAN, PAN PAN.

    So for example, a single engine shutdown with no fire or similar complications - on an A340, is it a PAN ? And, a single engine shutdown on an A330, a Mayday ? If the A330 was on ETOPs?....

    Interesting debate.
    Last edited by Beacher; August 7, 2007 at 09:59 AM.
    What are the three words guaranteed to humiliate men everywhere?
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    Did PAN originate in aviation? In most instances in aviation one could say that immediate assistance can not be effectively rendered, unless an expedited landing is considered immediate assistance, so PAN is appropriate. It is one of those situations governed by social norms as much as by regulations.

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    I am pretty certain PAN originated from a maritime use, and was adopted by aviation.

    A quick search of TC regs and comments notes PAN and Mayday are applicable for all forms of transport, but more usually maritime and aviation...
    What are the three words guaranteed to humiliate men everywhere?
    'Hold my purse.'

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobbieSullivan View Post
    ... the MAYDAY a/c would necessarily have been given landing priority
    over the PAN a/c.

    And, is PAN widely used outside the UK these days? Or does everybody
    (and their airlines) prefer the scenario that Beacher describes: declaring
    MAYDAY and then downgrading to PAN if things get under control?
    Not only landing priority Bobbie but communication priority as well.

    I would highly suggest to use Mayday over PAN PAN since you are running
    the risk of wasting your breath calling PAN PAN in a country where English
    is not a spoken native tongue.

    ICAO regulates the usage of Mayday and PAN PAN in Annex 10 to the
    Chicago Convention but it is merely a recommendation and often outruled
    by company's SOPs or recommended practices. It is really a judgement call
    and definitely if in UK controlled airspace a PAN PAN call will be understood
    as well as in Australia and areas with a strong penetration of anglistic ex-pat
    ATC staff like the middle east but you might get nothing but silence if you
    try that elsewhere.

    I also think Beacher's suggestion of calling Mayday and downgrading to
    PAN PAN if you feel comfortable enough is a good approach.

    Whether the situation is then treated as a full emergency or a local
    standby is made on the ground anyway, ideally with the consent of
    the PIC.

    By the way both have their origin in the French language: Mayday from
    M'aidez (help me) and PAN from Panne (breakdown). I don't know if it is
    of maritime origin.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Beacher View Post
    Yes Bobbie - its an interesting one. Swissair 111, declared initially a PAN, and upgraded it to Mayday status - in the end it was all pretty academic for those poor souls on board the MD-11 above Peggy's Cove...
    I had forgotten about that, but you are right. (Shudders.)

    Swissair 111 CVR transcript

    Dr. Bobbie Sullivan

    Crew health & stress research -- http://AircrewHealth.com

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