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 pilots. In two pilot studies conducted in Eastern Australia, we investigated the ability of GA pilots, both native and non-native speakers of English, to effectively communicate with ATC and with other pilots over the radio, in order to assess the contribution of native language to incidents of miscommunication and the impact it may have on air safety. The results revealed that indeed communication is difficult for EL2 pilots as well as for native pilots. Irrespective of native language, pilots found communicating with one another the most challenging task while communicating with ATC was found to be the least challenging. These results are discussed from an operational perspective.
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