Southwest Pilots Using Brando to Trick Air Traffic Control

Southwest Airlines is investigating a pilot who used the phrase Brandon to trick air traffic control. The incident happened on July 27th, 2019 when the pilot was communicating with Albuquerque Air Traffic Control Tower. In an audio recording of the conversation, he can be heard saying I’m sorry about that Brandon, in response to instructions given by ATC. Southwest has since issued a statement acknowledging the investigation and said they are taking this matter seriously.

According to the Federal Aviation Regulations, Air traffic control is only addressed by call signs when initiating communication or when on a common frequency. The pilot was on a common frequency and Brandon had not been previously communicated.

The use of non-standard phraseology in air traffic control communications is strictly prohibited. It’s likely the pilot will receive an official reprimand.

The person who made the recording didn’t want to be identified, but said he was concerned that safety of flights might have been compromised. I am a safety professional and I did not like what I heard, he said.

In response to this matter, Southwest said We are conducting an internal investigation. They further said the pilot will remain off duty until the investigation is complete.

On July 27th, 2019, Southwest Airlines flight 28 from Phoenix to San Francisco was contacted by Albuquerque Air Traffic Control Tower. In a recorded conversation between the pilot and ATC tower control, pilots can be heard saying I’m sorry about that Brandon in response to instructions given by ATC.

Today, July 30th 2019, Southwest Airlines has confirmed they are investigating the incident and taking it seriously. The use of non-standard phraseology in air traffic control communication is strictly prohibited. As this is an internal investigation on a matter that could result in disciplinary action, the pilot will remain off duty until the investigation is complete.

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