U.S. Airline Transport Pilot International Flight Language Experiences, Report 4: Non-Native English-Speaking Controllers Communicating with Native English-Speaking Pilots
FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION OKLAHOMA CITY OK CIVIL AEROSPACE MEDICAL INST
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In 1998, the International Civil Aviation Organization ICAO took a heightened interest in the role of language in airline accidents. Member states agreed to take steps to ensure air traffic control ATC personnel and flight crews involved in flight operations in airspace where the use of the English language is required were proficient in conducting and comprehending radiotelephony communications in English. This report is a compilation of responses and comments by a group of U.S. pilots from American, Continental, Delta, and United Airlines of their difficulties in international operations. In this report, their responses to questions 39-45 are presented as a compiled narrative. We derived six major thrusts 1 The English-language proficiency of nonnative English-speaking controllers may be inadequate for high-workload conditions 2 Pilots develop and use different strategies to improve ATC communications once they determine the controllers language proficiency 3 Pilots describe ATC communications between users of the same and different languages 4 Language switching distracts pilots and limits understanding, adversely affects situational awareness, leaves them with feelings of uncertainty, and increases their workload 5 Language barriers most affect situational awareness just prior to top-of-descent and during taxi and 6 How pilots compensate for reductions in situational awareness. We offer 16 recommendations to improve communication practices ranging from developing standardized and secure English-language testing for use by all ICAO member states, to realistic emergency and nonroutine scenarios and simulations demonstrating use of conversational English to enhance datalink for surveillance and communications.
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