‘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.”
Mr. Karsh and other airline pilots say that understanding controllers who work in Chinese airspace can often be difficult. “The amount of English they speak is geared solely to controller lingo,” he said. “Turn right to heading X, climb to flight level X. Even the basics can be hard to understand, and if you stray out of the very rudimentary ATC language box, they will not know what you are talking about,” Mr. Karsh said, referring to air traffic control terminology.
The problem is not confined to China, according to a just-published study for the British Civil Aviation Authority [UK CAA CAP1375 Aviation English Research Project]. An inability to communicate in English is widespread and a safety threat the industry is not taking seriously enough, the report says. Miscommunication can be as much of a hazard “as an engine fire, a broken landing gear or an avionics failure,” said Dr. Barbara Clark, the author of the study and the head of You Say Tomato, a Britain-based consultancy.’
by Christine Negroni
New York Times
19 June, 2017