Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Understanding Aviation Jargon: Aircraft Situation

They say that a mile of highway will just take you a mile, but a mile of runway will take you anywhere. In this day and age, more and more people can afford flying, thanks to the low fares of low-cost airlines. The demand for air travel is skyrocketing but majority of the major airports in the Philippines aren't expanding at all.

Flight delays are common these days due to air traffic congestion. But sometimes, announcements made by the ground crew are quite ambiguous. You often hear them saying, "your flight will be delayed due to aircraft situation. Our sincerest apologies for the inconveniences brought about by this delay."

So what does 'aircraft situation' really mean? Here, we dissect these two words into four possible scenarios.

Situation 1: Aircraft to be used has some technical issues

There are some instances when your assigned aircraft is unable to depart on time due to some technical problems. It may be a mechanical or engine problem, a fuel leak, and the list goes on and on. For obvious reasons, this aircraft is not suitable to operate and thus requiring it to be thoroughly checked by the airline's aircraft mechanic.

Situation 2: Late arrival of turnaround aircraft due to air traffic congestion

All flights bound for Manila with a scheduled arrival from 10AM to 7PM are subjected to a ground delay program (GDP). In air traffic control, we call it EDCT or estimate departure clearance time. This was implemented in 2012 by the Manila Air Traffic Flow Management or ATFM to ensure the smooth arrival of all flights arriving Manila, minimizing holding procedures on air. Before this program, air traffic within the Manila airspace was chaotic. There were a lot of holding on air and it's not just making the passengers uncomfortable, but it's highly uneconomical to airlines since holding on air burns more fuel. Thus, it is better to have a ground delay than to be put on hold on air while waiting for an approach clearance. It adds to an already stressful working environment to both pilots and air traffic controllers.

Situation 3: Your turnaround aircraft is unable to depart on time due to special operations

There are times when the departure aerodrome (your turnaround/assigned aircraft's point of departure) is closed to commercial air traffic due to special operations. It can be an arrival or departure of a VVIP flight (President of the Philippines, head of states, etc), or a military exercise. Either way, before implementing such closure, the affected flights will be notified beforehand. 

Situation 4: Inclement weather from your turnaround aircraft's point of departure

In the interest of safety, if the weather is not suitable for flying, the aircraft will be grounded until further advised. I think this is self-explanatory.


In a country surrounded by scenic waterscapes and jagged mountains, flying is the best option to travel and to explore. However, we really can't avoid these circumstances. Our friendly ground crew would have a hard time explaining the exact nature of the situation. However, asking them for the real reason won't hurt.

I hope this post helped in answering some highly technical topics in the aviation industry. If you have questions, don't hesitate drop it in the comment section and I'll try my best to answer your queries ASAP. Thanks!


  1. YES! These scenarios helped a lot. Sometimes passengers tend to get angry esp. during delays because of the lack of information! Sharing! :)


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