Working on a small translation project that involves civil aviation. The setting is a Chinese airport. Same idea as my other question -

Do these seem like plausible radio communication dialogue between ATCs and pilots? (Bold font indicates an area I'm particularly unsure about.)

  1. (ATC to pilot) [FLIGHT #], [PLACE] Tower. Looks like you had a tire burst. Please confirm.
  2. (ATC to ground) Runway 17L, [FLIGHT #]'s got a tire burst, have emergency vehicles ready. Runway is suspended.
  3. (Pilot to ATC) [PLACE] Approach, good evening. [FLIGHT #], with you at 4500 meters, information H. Airspeed 300 knots, request ILS approach runway 17L.
  4. (ATC back to pilot) [FLIGHT #], we’ve got a situation on the ground. Runway 17L is not available. Descend and maintain at 3500 (meters).
  5. (Pilot back to ATC) Can we use runway 04? We can accept yawing. [FLIGHT #].

For (3) I've pretty much done a direct translation from the Chinese. I couldn't find anything online on how exactly altitude and airspeed are reported.

Again, here are some short captioned ATC recordings from Chinese airports that I've been taking a look at:

(I've been getting the sense that the conventions for radio communications might be somewhat different in China? At least the units used for altitude appear to be meters.)

Thank you!


1 Answer 1


Units of altitude are indeed meters in China and some other Asian countries. And Russia has somewhat recently switched to feet-based flight levels, but keeps using meters below transition.

Units of speed should be kilometers per hour too, but I guess in that case the controllers will work with either.

In 5 I think the correct English term (I understand you translated this from Chinese, right?) should be circling. A “circling approach” means that the aircraft would continue the approach to 17L until they are clear of clouds and have good visibility of the airport and then proceed to visually fly around the airport to land on runway 4. That is a defined procedure, approach plates list weather minima needed for it, but some airlines don't have it in their standard operating procedures so they don't have to train it and thus couldn't accept it. So the pilots are notifying the controller that they can accept it—and suggesting it would be a reasonable thing to do at this point.

  • $\begingroup$ The Chinese term is 偏航, and the English term I found for it was "yawing" (baike.baidu.hk/item/%E5%81%8F%E8%88%AA/9517125). But your explanation makes sense and it's also possible that the author of the text in Chinese (a work of fiction) may have misused the term. $\endgroup$
    – Pearl6527
    Aug 23, 2022 at 6:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Pearl6527 It is quite likely it is the correct term for that kind of procedure in Chinese. The meaning is close enough and technical terms often don't match dictionary translation. It can even mean yawing (as in changing heading) in general aviation context, but still name the specific kind of procedure that in English is called a circling approach. You can try checking a Chinese pilot/controller glossary if you want to be sure. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Aug 23, 2022 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ I see, thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Pearl6527
    Aug 26, 2022 at 17:10

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