High above London, Tokyo and Cairo, the language of the cockpit is technical, obscure, geeky and irresistibly romantic. It’s hard to imagine a system more in need of a common language. And that language is English (or English-derived Aeroese).
When a Venezuelan pilot speaks to a New York air-traffic controller, or when a pilot from Brooklyn speaks to a controller in Caracas, they speak in English. It’s something to marvel at, the first time you fly to Tokyo, say, and you hear an exchange between a Japanese pilot and a Japanese air-traffic controller, both speaking carefully in Japanese-accented English. It’s standardisation and globalisation by force of bare necessity, by force of speed.
by Mark Vanhoenacker – British Airways pilot