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U.S. airspace a situación crítica with foreign flyers

USN Lieutenant Hector Zayas discusses airspace issues with a foreign pilot attending Sun ?n Fun 2008.  The Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR) has expanded its public outreach team to include multilingual aviators capable of connecting with foreign pilots on topics of air defense and flight restricted zones.  (U.S. Air Force photo)

USN Lieutenant Hector Zayas discusses airspace issues with a foreign pilot attending Sun n' Fun 2008. The Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR) has expanded its public outreach team to include multilingual aviators capable of connecting with foreign pilots on topics of air defense and flight restricted zones. (U.S. Air Force photo)

LAKELAND, Fla, -- At Sun 'n Fun 2008, US Navy Lieutenant Hector "Z-Man" Zayas describes the appropriate procedures for entering U.S. airspace with a private pilot from Puerto Rico:

     "Aeronaves entrando y maniobrando en espacio extranjero deben de respetar las reglas de aviación del mismo, de acuerdo a la Convención de la Organización Internacional de Aviación Civil."

     Translated, that means 'Aircraft entering and maneuvering in foreign airspace must abide by the rules of aviation enacted within that airspace or territory, according to conventions of the International Civil Aviation Organization.' 

     "Muchas gracias," is the response, and the conversation continues in Spanish, just as it does among thousands of pilots around the world everyday.

     With the numbers of international pilots that fly in the U.S. growing each year, the Continental U.S. NORAD Region has expanded its public outreach team to include multilingual aviators capable of connecting with foreign pilots on topics of air defense and flight restricted zones.

      Although English is the international language of aviation, Lt. Zayas says the actual in-flight communicating often occurs in Spanish, French, Portuguese, and any number of languages and dialects.

     "Aviation uses English as its official language, but I've flown in areas like Aruba where you've got your choice of languages," he said. "I've been able to converse with air traffic controllers in Spanish and, for them, it was the customary way to call out your intentions when flying."

     All ICAO publications are printed in English, Spanish, French, Arabic, Chinese and Russian, and are a must-read in the international aviation community.

     "Still, we recognize international pilots are usually not aware, or very comfortable, with our aviation 'rules of the skies,'" said Lt. Zayas.

     During the event Z-Man's multilingual abilities brought trust among the international flyers corps, putting them at ease as they learned more about air defense, special airspace, and intercept procedures.

     "Most foreign pilots I've spoken with this week want to know about our airspace rules, especially flying into the contiguous air defense identification zone that surrounds the U.S.," said Lt. Zayas.

     "Doing so in a familiar language aids in retention, and breaks down barriers to understanding the critical information these pilots need to know to fly here," he said.

     CONR will continue to use multilingual representatives and products in its public outreach efforts to promote awareness of major air defense efforts. Past venues include Super Bowl XLII in Phoenix and Space Shuttle launch support in Cocoa Beach; future events include the Indianapolis 500 in May 25, and Canada Day July 1.