The Daily Telegraph

Landing notice in Welsh ‘could overload pilots’

- By Jack Hardy

FLIGHT safety is being risked because pilots landing in Wales have to use the native tongue, it is claimed.

A Notice to Airmen (Notam), to last until the end of the month, demands a 143word Covid announceme­nt in English, Welsh and an officially recognised language of the departure country.

Critics claim it is the latest “overload” of notices pilots have to digest which could distract them from other crucial safety informatio­n.

A pilot is expected to absorb around 100 pages of Notam before a long-haul flight, but the most critical details would only fill three, said Mark Zee, a former pilot and air traffic controller.

There is “no prioritisa­tion” within the briefing to single out the most important informatio­n, meaning it can be lost in a sea of irrelevant points, he claimed.

An Air Canada flight narrowly avoided catastroph­e in 2017 when pilots missed a notice saying the runway in San Francisco was closed – on page eight of 27 pages.

It led the Internatio­nal Civil Aviation Organisati­on to call for a “reduction” in the number of Notams.

Simon Calder, the travel writer, said the Welsh announceme­nt was just “more guff for airmen and women to wade through”.

He said the burden of communicat­ing these notices should fall to airline managers, rather than pilots.

Bethan Sayed, a Plaid Cymru member of the Welsh Parliament, said: “I thought you were well travelled? If so you’d know that different languages are spoken the world over. Would you say this if travelling to Frenchspea­king Quebec?”

Yes Cymru said: “Thought the point of travelling was to have different experience­s. That includes languages.”

But aviation experts agreed the Welsh announceme­nt reflected the broader problem of excessive notices for pilots. Mr Zee said: “This is one of those thousands of Notams that are very by the way and don’t have an operationa­l impact on the aircraft.”

David Kaminski-morrow, air transport editor of Flightglob­al, added: “While I don’t think complying with the (Welsh language) Notam constitute­s a flight hazard – it could be spoken or read off a card after the aircraft stops – I’d suggest this is a prime example of Notam clutter.”

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