The view from the cockpit

An evening pause: This short video shows us what it is like for the pilot and co-pilot as they prepare for departure from Frankfurt, Germany, on a cargo flight to Africa and beyond. Note that even though the crew is German and the airport is German, all communications with the control tower are in English. Note also that their altitude is recorded in feet, not meters. The American big lead in the commercial airline industry in the first half of the 20th century allowed it to set the standards, including the use of feet and English in these matters.

Hat tip Tom Biggar.


  • David Eastman

    Reminds of an old joke. Apparently the Munich air traffic controllers are notorious for being very sharp and short of patience. After having to repeat instructions to a British Airways concorde a second time, the air traffic controller snaps “Haven’t you flown to Munich before?” To which the british pilot responds “Several times, old chap. This is the first time I’ve landed here though.”

  • Andi

    Small suggested edit : “there elevation”
    Suggest “their altitude”

  • Andi

    Oh, and they also measure speed in knots

  • wayne

    Good stuff!

    RAF Raid on Munich

  • Andi: Oh yes, I forgot about that. Adds weight to what I wrote.

  • sippin_bourbon

    I am not sure that was always true.

    I seem to remember many early US aircraft that used MPH on the airspeed indicators.
    We switched to the NM (and kts) later.

  • sippin_bourbon

    Also, I think English was the default language for air traffic control after WW2.
    Language proficiency for pilots was not mandated by ICAO until 2008.

    Regarding my prev post, it looks like the US officially adopted the NM in 1954, however, it was already in heavy use in the industry.

    It also just makes sense for long distance travel, being that a NM is based on a minute of arc of latitude.
    I found it helped when I was learning basic navigation.

  • Andi

    From Wikipedia:

    “Prior to 1969, airworthiness standards for civil aircraft in the United States Federal Aviation Regulations specified that distances were to be in statute miles, and speeds in miles per hour. In 1969, these standards were progressively amended to specify that distances were to be in nautical miles, and speeds in knots.”

    Didn’t realize that the changeover was that recent

  • Steve Richter

    sure looks like a lot of functions can be automated. That is, if safety is the top concern. All the checklist items were based on confirming readings and indicators the plane is giving to the pilots. Just point a camera outside the window and send that signal to operators in Bangalore. That would be used to make sure the plane was taxiing and flying itself correctly.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *