Improving Air Safety in Afghanistan

A mobile advising team of USAF air advisors are working with Afghan air traffic controllers and pilots to curb a spike in hazardous traffic reports within the Afghan Air Force, according to a recent release. A total of 19 hazardous traffic reports were recorded in January and February at the Jalalabad Train, Assist, Advise Command, presenting a “major collision hazard” for US and NATO aircraft as well as fixed-wing aircraft flying from Jalalabad, said Capt. Benjamin Sherman, a TAAC-Air safety advisor. “The Afghan pilots at Jalalabad are very skilled aviators; however, they lacked English comprehension, and specifically, aviation English,” said Sherman. “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.” Many of the experienced Afghan pilots learned to fly when international standard communications for air traffic control were not being enforced, states the release. TAAC-Air advisors partnered with air controllers at Jalalabad to develop a week-long English class focused on aviation terms and are ?seeing some success. TAAC-Air advisors intend to follow up with ground classes and flying training in the future.