Subsequent to the draft document and invitation for comments earlier this year, the FAA has published Advisory Circular AC 60-28B. The document provides guidance on the FAA’s Aviation English Language Standards (AELS) that apply to personnel holding or training for an FAA certificate.
‘On a flight out of Shanghai, the pilot of a United States airline radioed air traffic control seeking a higher altitude. But, said the pilot, Jim Karsh, he could not understand the controller’s reply. “We tried six, seven, eight times to have him repeat,” Mr. Karsh said, then “we canceled our request.”
With a good dose of humour, a US airline pilot makes some serious points:
“We can all agree there are many ‘pilot personalities’ out there. I spend the majority of my day listening to all sorts of stuff said over the radio and while most of it I just tune out, there are a few things that just make me cringe. While most of this is harmless, especially if you are cruising into Joe Schmoes Airport in Nowheresville, USA – it annoys me (and probably ATC much worse) when New York Center is overloaded and understaffed during rush hour traffic while some pilot is making their transmission longer with useless words and phrases.”
The ICAEA Research Group (ICAEA-RG) is composed of Members of the Association who are currently involved in academic research into English language usage in aeronautical communications.
A poor standard of English among foreign pilots risks leading to miscommunication and disaster in the skies over Britain, according to an official report. Research commissioned by the aviation watchdog found evidence of cheating in vital English-language tests, with pilots granted certificates on the basis of corrupt “sweetheart deals”. It was claimed that in one country pilots were certified as English speakers after only ten days’ tuition. The report, delivered to the Civil Aviation Authority, said that there were pilots operating within British airspace “who appear to lack the minimum proficiency in English”.
“There are some 100,000 commercial flights each day in the world which means that literally millions of interactions take place between pilots and air traffic controllers. These very often take place in English – a foreign language for the vast majority. So how do these foreign-language discussions take place and how efficient are they? More importantly, are there breakdowns, and if so, what are they due to? And how can we make improvements?”
This independent report (CAP 1375) commissioned by the UK CAA investigates pilot – air traffic controller communication issues as evidenced by Mandatory Occurrence Reports (MORs), and proposes best practices to reduce miscommunication affected by substandard International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) language proficiency.
The FAA has invited comment on two draft Advisory Circulars (AC) affecting the Aviation English Language Standards (AELS) that apply to personnel holding or training for an FAA certificate.
Communication failures have been blamed for more than a thousand deaths in plane crashes, warns an Australian academic who has reviewed the language pilots and air traffic controllers use.