…Say again?… – Miscommunications in Air Traffic Control

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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Solutions for Improving the Safety of Aviation Communication

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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English language training for Air Traffic Controllers must go beyond basic ATC Vocabulary

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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An analysis of pilot-controller occurrences – Eurocontrol

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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Language Experiences in Non-Native English-Speaking Airspace/Airports – FAA Report

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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“Tell Them We are in Emergency” – Linguistic Factors Contributing to the Crash of Avianca Flight 052

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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English with Flying Colors: The Aviation English and the International Civil Aviation Organisation

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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Aviation English in South African airspace

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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Pilots/Air Traffic Controllers Phraseology Study

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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Evaluation and content analysis of “English for Aviation for Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers” textbook as an ESP book

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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Aviate, Navigate, Communicate: Silence, Voice and Situation Awareness in Aviation Safety

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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Is ICAO Level 4 English Enough to Ensure International Air Safety?

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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Linguistic Analysis of English Phraseology and Plain Language in Air-Ground Communications

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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High Stakes in Language Proficiency

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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Can they Talk the Talk?

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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Pilot–Air Traffic Control Communications: It’s Not (Only) What You Say, It’s How You Say It

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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Aircraft Communications at Uncontrolled Airports

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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ICAO Standard Operating Procedures – Standard Calls

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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Effective Pilot / Controller Communications

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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Analysis of Crew Conversations Provides Insights for Accident Investigation

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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The Ecology of Language Practices in Worldwide Airline Flight Deck Operations

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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An analysis of the quality of English testing for aviation purposes in Finland

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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Radio miscommunication: EL2 pilots in the Australian General Aviation environment

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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Communicative functions in languages for Aviation Radiotelephony

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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How Complexity and Format of Air Traffic Control Instructions affect Pilot Recall

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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Communication and Co-operation Analysis in Air Traffic Control

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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A critique of the ICAO English testing policy from the perspective of Korean aviation experts

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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Airline Accidents Involving Linguistic Factors

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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Reassessing the position of Aviation English: from a special language to English for Specific Purposes

“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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Application of ESP Theory into Aviation English Teaching in the Chinese Context

 “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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Aviation English Training – A “program” versus “institute” approach

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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Specific Purpose Language Teaching and Aviation Language Competencies

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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African Aviation English language assessment system

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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The Impact of Computer Technology on Language Learning

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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Planes, Politics and Oral Proficiency

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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First Steps in Designing Air Traffic Control Communication Language Technology System

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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Culture affects Communication

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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