Language & Communications

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…Say again?… – Miscommunications in Air Traffic Control February 14, 2018 - This paper presents an investigation into miscommunications between air traffic controllers (ATC) and pilots. These miscommunications may broadly be applied to a range of verbal communications problems ranging from misunderstandings, such as those due to ambiguity, cultural differences, language structure, and so on, to more technical problems, such as microphone…

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“Tell Them We are in Emergency” – Linguistic Factors Contributing to the Crash of Avianca Flight 052 October 26, 2017 - Abstract On 25 January 1990, Avianca Flight 052 ran out of fuel and crashed after a missed approach to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. A number of causal factors were involved in the crash, some of which were linguistic. The accident has accordingly been cited by the International…

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A critique of the ICAO English testing policy from the perspective of Korean aviation experts August 31, 2014 - In recent years there has been widespread concern about insufficient English proficiency in the aviation industry on the part of Non-Native English Speaking (NNES) pilots or air traffic controllers and its role as a contributing factor in the chain of events leading to accidents or incidents. These concerns have led…

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A Study of EL2 Pilots’ Radio Communication June 24, 2014 - This paper reports on the preliminary stages of a project designed to investigate communication problems in General Aviation and assess the utility of language technologies as a means of mitigation. The study presented in this paper is the first of a three-part study, in which we aim to investigate the…

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African Aviation English language assessment system June 21, 2014 - Compliance by the pilot with instructions from the air traffic controller is possible only if the messages are fully understood and vice versa. In order to secure a global standard, the international civil aviation organization defined new requirements concerning the level of English language proficiency needed among aviation professionals. As…

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Aircraft Communications at Uncontrolled Airports October 18, 2014 - At an airport without an operational control tower, sometimes referred to as an “uncontrolled” airport, communication is one of the key elements in maintaining proper aircraft separation. Use of the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) helps to assure the safe, orderly flow of arrival and departure traffic. FAR 91.113 cites…

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Airline Accidents Involving Linguistic Factors August 26, 2014 - The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is currently implementing a program to improve the language proficiency of pilots and air traffic controllers worldwide. In justifying the program, ICAO has cited a number of airline accidents that were at least partly caused by language factors. Two accidents cited by ICAO are…

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An analysis of pilot-controller occurrences – Eurocontrol October 31, 2017 - This Eurocontrol report provides an analysis of the incidents related to air-ground communication between controllers and pilots.  Significant safety issues, hazardous scenarios, causal factors, and potential prevention strategies concerning air-ground communication safety are provided in this report. Aviation English students are encouraged to read this report so they can gain

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An analysis of the quality of English testing for aviation purposes in Finland October 12, 2014 - This article describes and analyses the development of a new test of aviation English by the Finnish Civil Aviation Authority (FCAA), as well as the overall situation in Finland as regards the testing of aviation English. The article describes the FCAA development project and evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of…

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Analysis of Crew Conversations Provides Insights for Accident Investigation October 14, 2014 - Recorded voice data, such as from CVRs or air traffic control (ATC) tapes, can be an important source of information for accident investigation, as well as for human factors re- search. During accident investigations, the extent of analysis of these recordings depends on the nature and severity of the accident.…

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Application of ESP Theory into Aviation English Teaching in the Chinese Context July 26, 2014 -  “Aeronautical and/or Aviation English” is designed as ESP (English for Specific Purposes) curriculum for students in the fields of aeronautics and/or aviation. This is especially true in China. Various books have been published on the teaching of Aviation English. Learners of ESP are supposed to master specialty vocabulary concerned…

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Aviate, Navigate, Communicate: Silence, Voice and Situation Awareness in Aviation Safety January 24, 2015 - Ph.D. dissertation by Theodoros Katerinakis,  The purpose of this dissertation is to show how important human communication is in order to accomplish a safe flight. A flight is represented as an act of conversation that combines culture with communication of co-present and cooperative actors, in the highly mediated environment of the flight deck.…

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Aviation aftermarket professionals face language issues April 29, 2014 - 1. Aviation aftermarket professionals face language issues The fastest growing aviation markets in the world are often neglected due to language barriers. It is noteworthy, that up to 80 % of aircraft engineers in Latin America, as well as China, which is predicted to become the fastest growing aviation market…

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Aviation English in South African airspace February 16, 2016 - A lack of English proficiency and failure to use standard phraseology played a role in the world’s largest aviation disaster which occurred in Tenerife in 1977 . As a result, the crucial role of effective communication between pilots and airtraffic controllers (ATCs) came under scrutiny, with the International Civil Aviation…

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Aviation English Training – A “program” versus “institute” approach July 25, 2014 - This paper briefly outlines possible directions for aviation English training, and presents a rationale for a move towards Aviation English Institutes, rather than simply single-sourced programs. Aviation English training is a very young field. Although some aviation English specialists have been working in the field for a couple of decades,…

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Aviation English Training: How long Does it Take? April 29, 2014 - Author:  Elizabeth Mathews I am often asked, “How long does it take to achieve ICAO Operational Level 4?” Unfortunately, there is no quick and easy answer to this question. However, there is research and experience upon which we can draw to make some general estimates of time required for pilots…

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Best Practices on the Flight Deck July 23, 2014 - The aim of this guide is to highlight some of the causal or contributory factors that have resulted in runway incursions which have been identified during a recent runway safety survey. Aircraft operators and students are invited to review the material put forward in this guide. Some of the material in this…

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Can they Talk the Talk? October 21, 2014 - Passengers 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.…

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CASA – English language proficiency for flight crew April 29, 2014 - The Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia (CASA) has promulgated two different English language proficiency standards for flight crew, namely, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation language proficiency standards for operational flight crew and the CASA general English language standards for student pilots. ICAO language proficiency standard for operational…

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CASA – General English test criteria April 29, 2014 - CASA sets a minimum standard of general English language proficiency for applicants of the Student Pilot Licence (SPL). The aim of requiring student-pilots to have a minimum proficiency to communicate orally in general English is two-fold, to enable the SPL holder to safely conduct flying training operations as well as have…

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CASA – General English test criteria April 29, 2014 - CASA sets a minimum standard of general English language proficiency for applicants of the Student Pilot Licence (SPL). The aim of requiring student-pilots to have a minimum proficiency to communicate orally in general English is two-fold, to enable the SPL holder to safely conduct flying training operations as well as have…

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Communicate Positively with your Passengers October 23, 2014 - Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of your flight crew I would like to welcome you aboard. Our flight time to Paris tonight is . . .” Contemplate this thought: You fly people, not airplanes. You accomplish the task with aircraft. You can take a bad flight with a…

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Communication and Co-operation Analysis in Air Traffic Control September 7, 2014 - This paper presents a global human-machine communication model which explains data flow in an organization based on working position. This model is illustrated by the Air Traffic Control domain. A methodological approach is then proposed for studying the communications between Approach Control working positions, with regard to cooperative work. The…

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Communication in Aviation April 29, 2014 - What is communication? We spend approximately 80 per cent of our waking hours in some form of communication whether we want to or not. It is also an essential part of an air transport operation. Success in business is 85 per cent dependent on effective communication and interpersonal skills. There…

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Communicative functions in languages for Aviation Radiotelephony September 11, 2014 - The main functions in pilot-controller dialogue are varied by nature of their tasks, however even though they are responsible for different tasks, pilots and controllers both need to acknowledge and communicate with each other in a form that is easily understood.   This document presents a unified checklist that pilots…

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Culture affects Communication May 5, 2014 - We know that differences in education, perceptions and expectations can make communication difficult; these differences are often critical when we need to communicate in the workplace. Pilots and controllers, however, share a common professional culture, regardless of their differences in native language, race and nationality. The training provided by Aviation…

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Dictionary of Aviation September 9, 2014 - English is the universal language of communication used in civil aviation. This dictionary provides the basic vocabulary of terms used by pilots, cabin staff, maintenance crews, ground staff and travellers worldwide. The terms are those used in everyday work on aircraft, and cover parts of the aircraft, manipulating the aircraft…

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Effective Pilot / Controller Communications October 15, 2014 - Until controller / pilot data link communication ( CPDLC ) comes into widespread use, air traffic control ( ATC ) will depend upon voice communications that are affected by various factors. Operators and Air Traffic Management providers, like pilots and controllers, are close partners in terms of “productivity”; and operators…

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English as the Official Aviation Language April 29, 2014 - How and Why English was Established as the Standard Language of Aviation? In the year 1944 on the 1st of November in response to a British initiative, the government of the United States invited 55 allied and neutral States to meet in Chicago. Out of the allied States invited 52…

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English Hindi Glossary April 29, 2014 - Complete English Hindi Glossary compiled by the Civil Aviation department in India.   Provides English-Hindi translations.   This specialised glossary is available for FREE download at the link below.  English Hindi Glossary    

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English language training for Air Traffic Controllers May 5, 2014 - There is an ongoing push for Air Traffic Controllers (ATCs) to learn English beyond the recommended ICAO Level 4 standard, and instead learn adequate English that allows for a more broader range of communications.   The reasoning behind this is that ATCs are often required to respond to unusual situations…

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English language training for Air Traffic Controllers must go beyond basic ATC Vocabulary December 4, 2017 - Miscommunications can have serious consequences – especially when co-ordinating aircraft flying in a variety of environments and variables.  Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) responsible for international flights must have the skills in English to communicate in a very broad sense – much more than talking and repeating standard and learned phrases.…

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English Skills a Concern as Global Aviation Grows April 29, 2014 - A FOREIGN tourist approached me in Times Square. “Please, where is ahhty-ahm?” he asked. At least, that’s what I heard, even when he slowly repeated the question. I was flummoxed until he took a bank card out of his wallet and made the motion of inserting it into an imaginary…

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English with Flying Colors: The Aviation English and the International Civil Aviation Organisation July 24, 2016 - There are several reasons for the English language to become lingua franca of aviation including some historical turning points for the world aviation and some specific linguistic features of the language itself. This paper aims to firstly present a short, yet interesting history of implementation of English as standardized language…

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Evaluation and content analysis of “English for Aviation for Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers” textbook as an ESP book February 18, 2015 - Books in language learning and teaching have an undeniable significant role. Since English language teaching is essential for air traffic controllers and pilots all around the world, the aim of this study is to clarify the role of a coursebook used in educating and training air traffic controllers and pilots.…

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First Steps in Designing Air Traffic Control Communication Language Technology System May 14, 2014 - Extended title – First Steps in Designing Air Traffic Control Communication Language Technology System – Compiling Spoken Corpus of Radiotelephony Communication One of the most essential parts of air traffic control is communication. It helps air traffic controllers and pilots operate the plane and maintain safe and expeditious flight. A survey of…

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Foreign pilots’ poor grasp of English is putting lives at risk, warns regulator April 29, 2014 - Plane pilots’ use of English is so poor lives are being put at risk, the Civil Aviation Authority has warned – Photo: Alamy   Plane pilots’ use of English is so poor lives are being put at risk, the Civil Aviation Authority has warned. It said it has anecdotal evidence

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Handling an Emergency January 27, 2015 - Most of us will go through our entire careers without ever having to declare an emergency. For those who do pull the short straw however, there are some basic considerations that apply, regardless of the specific problem(s).  The desired outcome for any emergency situation is a controlled rate of descent onto a prepared…

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High Stakes in Language Proficiency October 22, 2014 - In an effort to reduce accidents involving communication deficiencies, ICAO is requiring pilots, controllers and aeronautical station operators involved in international operations to be tested for their ability to speak and understand English. At stake are careers, industry investment in training and testing — and safety. High Stakes in Language…

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Hints from a commercial pilot about the ICAO English test August 30, 2014 - Many of our students ask us questions about what is really required to achieve ICAO Level 4.  We – Aviation English Academy – use the following presentation in the first lesson of our ICAO Aviation English course as it provides feedback from a pilot who failed his exam.  While it…

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How Complexity and Format of Air Traffic Control Instructions affect Pilot Recall September 7, 2014 - Until recently, controllers were required to communicate all numerical air traffic control (ATC) information in sequential format, that is, digit by digit. For example, an altitude of 17,000 ft had to be transmitted as “Climb to one seven thousand.” According to the latest versions of the Air Traffic Control handbook…

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ICAO Language Proficiency Requirements (LPRs) for Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers April 29, 2014 - The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has established English language proficiency requirements (LPRs) for all pilots operating on international routes, and all air traffic controllers who communicate with foreign pilots. These standards require pilots and air traffic controllers to be able to communicate proficiently using both ICAO phraseology and plain English. Formal…

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ICAO Standard Operating Procedures – Standard Calls October 16, 2014 - Standard phraseology is essential to ensure effective crew communication, particularly in today’s operating environment, which increasingly features: – Two-crewmember operation; and, – International and worldwide contexts involving crewmembers with different native languages. Standard calls are intended and designed to enhance the efficiency of crew coordination and update the flightcrew situational…

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ICAO’s English Language Proficiency Requirements April 29, 2014 - In 1997 ICAO recognized the importance of improving communication between pilots and air traffic controllers in order to avoid accidents. The Air Navigation Commission (ANC) reviewed the existing provisions for air-ground and ground-ground voice communication in the international civil aviation context. The ANC made changes to strengthen ICAO Annexes 1,…

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Interview – Michel Trémaud on Airbus and the FSF An interview, November 2012 April 29, 2014 - MICHEL TRÉMAUD is former Director of Safety Initiatives at Airbus and a member of the Flight Safety Foundation. We interviewed Michel on how aviation manufacturers approach safety issues, and about the work of the FSF. I: Michel Trémaud, you have recently retired as Director of Safety Initiatives at Airbus. Do you…

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Iran to Host ICAO Regional Meeting April 29, 2014 - TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iran is set to host a regional meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), due to be held among member states of its Middle East regional office in September 2014, an official with Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization said. According to Mohammad Khodakarami, deputy head of Iran’s…

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Is ICAO Level 4 English Enough to Ensure International Air Safety? October 29, 2014 - The UK Civil Aviation Authority has just commissioned a new report into the English language used by pilots flying into the UK and air traffic controllers operating internationally. It seems there is anecdotal evidence that industry-wide English standards are not as high as they should be and, as a result,…

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Language Barrier October 15, 2014 - After a simple error wiped out much of their navigation information, the Polish pilots of a 737 were unable to adequately communicate their problem to British controllers. This incident is described as typical of the risks of not speaking the same language, the crew of a Lot Polish Airlines Boeing 737-500…

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Language Experiences in Non-Native English-Speaking Airspace/Airports – FAA Report October 30, 2017 - This FAA report is a compilation of written responses and comments by a group of 48 U.S. pilots of their difficulties in international operations.  These pilots met with interviewers to discuss their language experiences flying into countries where English may or may not be the local or national language among…

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Linguistic Analysis of English Phraseology and Plain Language in Air-Ground Communications October 26, 2014 - In the context of ENAC organising training for France’s air traffic controllers, the aim of this project is to describe the different uses of English phraseology and plain language within pilot-controller (or air-ground) communications via a comparative study between two corpora: one representing the prescribed norm and made up of…

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New Pilot’s Guide to ATC Communication April 29, 2014 - There is an art to using the right words when you communicate with air traffic control (ATC). Effective aviation phraseology combines brevity with the transfer of complete and correct information. Long, detailed transmissions ensure the controller receives the needed information, but these monologues also tie up the frequency. If the…

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Pilot–Air Traffic Control Communications: It’s Not (Only) What You Say, It’s How You Say It October 21, 2014 - English is the international language of aviation. But even when pilots and controllers both speak English fluently, there are pitfalls in the nature of language and the ways that language is heard. Subtle miscues can subvert messages that seem clear to the sender. Pilots and controllers must be aware of,…

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Pilots/Air Traffic Controllers Phraseology Study April 29, 2015 - As the world becomes more and more “global”, language becomes a key factor in the efficiency of Pilot – Air Traffic Control (ATC) communications. Language and communication issues are very important because a miscommunication could potentially lead to a dangerous situation without any of the involved stakeholders being aware. The…

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Planes, Politics and Oral Proficiency May 15, 2014 - This study investigates the variation in oral proficiency demonstrated by 14 Air Traffic Controllers across two types of testing tasks: work-related radio telephony-based tasks and non-specific English tasks on aviation topics. Their performance was compared statistically in terms of level ratings on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) scale. The…

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Possible reasons for aviation communication errors April 29, 2014 - Communication errors between pilots and air traffic control Aviation communication errors are critical to the safety of aircrafts. Minor errors have the potential to result in catastrophic situations. Studies of real transmissions (Cardosi, 1994; Lee and Rodvold, 1993) suggested that less than 1% of all radio transmissions contain errors. The…

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Proficiency in English for Indian Pilots & Air Traffic Controllers March 17, 2018 - A Government of India Notification Recently the Government of India issued a notification prescribing standards of English proficiency for all those who seek or already perform the duties of pilots, air traffic controllers, et al., employed by various airlines. It is certainly a welcome step. This step is in compliance…

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Proficiency in the English language used for radiotelephony communications April 29, 2014 - ICAO Standards article A37-10 Whereas to prevent accidents, ICAO introduced language provisions to ensure that air traffic personnel and pilots are proficient in conducting and comprehending radiotelephony communications in the English language, including requirements that the English language shall be available on request at all stations on the ground serving designated airports…

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Radio miscommunication: EL2 pilots in the Australian General Aviation environment October 10, 2014 - Communicating effectively via the radio in General Aviation (GA) is a challenging task for most pilots. This is even more challenging for non-native speakers of English (EL2) who are required to master not only a second language but ‘Aviation English’ to communicate with both Air Traffic Control (ATC) and other…

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Reassessing the position of Aviation English: from a special language to English for Specific Purposes July 26, 2014 - “Aviation English” is not only confined to pilots and air traffic controllers (ATC), it also refers to English on general terms in aeronautical and/or aviation universities. It can be designed as integrated ESP (English for Specific Purposes) curricula for students in the fields of aeronautics and/or aviation. Learners of ESP…

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Right Talk from the Right Seat October 16, 2014 - Despite lessons drawn from cockpit resource management programs, the language of the flight deck varies by the seat being occupied – and peril can hide in the syntax. We need new rules of speech. You’re no rookie. You have more than 9,000 hours, but with less than If 100 hours…

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Social, safety and economic impacts of global language testing in aviation April 29, 2014 - Author:  Philip Shawcross BACKGROUND Language and communication in aviation A Chinese pilot flying from Beijing to Paris may cross ten national boundaries and speak to more than two dozen air traffic controllers, each with a different first-language background, speaking different regional varieties of English at varying levels of proficiency. According…

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Solutions for Improving the Safety of Aviation Communication December 16, 2017 - An Investigation of Pilots’ and Air Traffic Control Officers’ Opinions on Aviation English. This dissertation has investigated the opinions and insights of pilots and air traffic control officers regarding various aspects of the global state of Aviation English. 288 participants have completed an online survey and a further 4 participants have…

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Specific Purpose Language Teaching and Aviation Language Competencies June 27, 2014 - Given the vast range of items and abilities that can be accounted for in general language proficiency, given also the safety critical nature of plain language requirements in aviation radiotelephony communications and, finally, given the high costs involved in training and testing large numbers of aviation professionals, there is a…

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Strengthen English Skills in China’s Aviation Industry April 29, 2014 - Several Chinese airlines and other aviation industry companies gathered in Beijing for a seminar to discuss the importance of English-language proficiency for those who work in the sector to accelerate the global appeal of domestic airlines. What level of English does a Chinese pilot need to operate aircraft in international…

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Terminology used in ATSB safety investigation reports June 5, 2014 - Occurrence: accident or incident. Safety factor: an event or condition that increases safety risk. In other words, it is something that, if it occurred in the future, would increase the likelihood of an occurrence, and/or the severity of the adverse consequences associated with an occurrence. Safety factors include the occurrence events (e.g.…

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The best way to prepare for airline English tests April 29, 2014 - Are you preparing for an airline interview or prepare for your career? Whether you are applying for a job as a pilot, member of ground staff or a member of cabin crew one of the assessments in which you are required to perform well in is the airline’s English assessment…

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The Ecology of Language Practices in Worldwide Airline Flight Deck Operations October 12, 2014 - Spoken and written language play essential roles in the operation of commercial airliners. Spoken language appears in conversations among the crew, between the crew and Air Traffic Control (ATC), in aural alerts to the pilots generated by on-board systems, between the crew and a variety of company personnel (dispatchers, mechanics,…

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The Impact of Computer Technology on Language Learning May 21, 2014 - Far from diminishing the human element in the learning process, the advent of computer technology as an integral part of language learning provides an opportunity to reflect upon and implement principles that enhance the learner’s status and expand the teacher’s role. Most teachers would probably agree on how: Respecting learners`…

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The Result Of Poor Cockpit Discipline November 5, 2014 - Air Crash Investigation report into the accident of Independent Air 1851 (IDN 1851), a Boeing 707-331B.  While in clouds and heavy turbulence and after seven seconds of “whoop whoop, pull up” from its ground- proximity warning system (GPWS), the plane flew into Pico Alto, a mountain on the island of Santa…

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Words that can be hazardous to your health November 2, 2014 - Miscommunication arising from spoken interaction is a fact of life experienced, in one form or another, almost daily. Even two people speaking face-to-face, ostensibly in the same language, with a common background in the subject of the communication, frequently discover that what was meant was not what was understood. In…

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