Can they Talk the Talk?

Air_Traffic_Control_SystemsPassengers listening in on radio communications on a domestic flight in the United States a couple of years ago heard the following exchange between the pilot and the Jacksonville (Florida, U.S.) Center controller:

Pilot: “Jacksonville Control. United XXX. Can we reduce speed to xxx knots?”
Controller: “United XXX. Jacksonville Control. Only if you want to join the back of the pack.”
Pilot: “Okay. We’ll pin our ears back then.”
Controller: “You don’t need to do that. Just maintain current speed.”

This exchange is interesting from both a linguistic and an operational point of view, and illustrates how the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) language proficiency standards and recommended practices (SARPs) apply to speakers of English as a first language.

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Can they Talk the Talk?

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