Mark Robertson

Mark Robertson

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Listen as a rude pilot and an air traffic controller have a tense exchange!


Photo: Getty Images

VASAviation published a video that contains air traffic control audio plus a visualization of a tense exchange that recently happened between an air traffic controller and an American Airlines Airbus A321 pilot at LAX.

This interaction started after American Airlines flight AA58 from Kona to Los Angeles landed, but the gate was occupied, so the controller advised the pilot to hold at a certain point. Here’s a transcript of the interaction between the air traffic controller and the American Airlines pilot (note that “H” and “Q” refer to taxiway letters):

ATC: “American 58, gate 157 is occupied. Taxi H, hold short of taxiway Q, this frequency.”
Pilot: “H, hold short of Q, this frequency, American 58.”
ATC: “American 58, I wanted you short of Q on H, so I want you go to back to the left now on H, and then just go to the end. At B17, hold short of runway 25R.”
Pilot: “We would have done it if you would have said it.”
ATC: “Say again.”
Pilot: “We would have done that if you would have said it.”
ATC: “What did I give you?”
Pilot: “I’m just saying we would have stopped short of Q if you would have asked us to do so.”
ATC: “Okay, what did I issue you before?”
Pilot: “Hold short of Q.”
ATC: “American 58, okay, yeah, I gave you short of Q before. What are you doing now? That doesn’t look like hold short of Q to me.”
Pilot: “Did you want us to go to the end?”
ATC: “Yeah, now I do. Now that you messed up the last instruction let’s try to get this one right. Go to B17 and hold short of runway 25R.”
Pilot: “No, I didn’t mess up on that, you did.”

You can listen to the audio for yourself below, and see a visualization of what happened, which should clear things up for anyone who isn’t otherwise following. It’s also worth listening so that you can hear the condescending tone of the American Airlines pilot.

  • The air traffic controller gave pretty clear instructions, to taxi on H and hold short of Q, which the pilot obviously misunderstood
  • The pilot unnecessarily escalated the situation by claiming the air traffic controller messed up, rather than just apologizing and following the revised instructions
  • Hilariously the air traffic controller asked the pilot what instructions he was given, and he read them back exactly as intended, further proving the controller’s point
  • Even when it was clear that the pilot messed up, he still doubled down and said “I didn’t mess it up, you did”

An American Airlines pilot got snippy with an air traffic controller at LAX recently after a miscommunication. The pilot seemed to misinterpret the controller’s directions, but insisted that the air traffic controller was at fault. I’m not sure why he felt the need to double down the way he did, rather than just moving on and doing his job.

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