The Ecology of Language Practices in Worldwide Airline Flight Deck Operations

deadliest-cockpit2Spoken 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, etc), and in public address messages to the passengers. Written language appears in the labels on cockpit controls and indicators, on displays and communication screens, in dispatch and other paperwork, on navigation charts, checklists, airplane operations manuals, personally made annotations on other documents, and notes of ATC clearances.

This paper examines the institutional factors that create this situation and the language practices adopted by non-native English speaking pilots to adapt within a complex ecology of constraints on language usage. The paper focuses on an especially complex case, that of Japanese airlines.

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The Ecology of Language Practices in Worldwide Airline Flight Deck Operations

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