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Importance of Communication between Pilot & Controller, And Examples using the FAA reg. 7110.65

Importance of Communication between Pilot & Controller, And Examples using the FAA reg. 7110.65


Communications between controllers and pilots remain a vital part of air traffic control operations. Problems with it can result in hazardous situations. A first step in reducing the incidence of communication problems is to understand why and how they happen. In the past a number of studies have been conducted on the subject of pilot-controller communication errors. The majority of these studies were based on data obtained from incident reporting systems in the United States. (Cardosi, 2004) The results of these studies could therefore not reflect the situation in Europe. Pilots and controllers are involved equally in the air traffic management system. Achieving effective radio communications involves many factors that should not be considered in isolation. Many factors are closely interrelated, and more than one cause usually is involved in a breakdown of the communication loop. The following provides an overview and discussion of factors involved in effective pilot / controller communications.

No individual is expected to speak any language; even his/her own native language, correctly and in a standard way. Acknowledging this fact is a first step towards developing or enhancing communication skills. The language of pilot / controller communications is intended to overcome this basic shortcoming. CRM studies show that language differences are a more fundamental obstacle to safety in the cockpit than cultural differences. In response to a series of accidents involving language skills as a causal factor, an effort has been initiated to improve the English-language skills of pilots and controllers worldwide. Nevertheless, even pilots and controllers for whom English is the native language may not understand all communications spoken in English, because of regional accents or dialects. Language differences generate significant communication difficulties worldwide. (Delhaise, 2003) Controllers using both English (for communication with international flights) and the country's native language (for communication with domestic flights) prevent pilots from achieving the desired level of situational awareness (because of loss of party-line communications).


Voice communications between controllers and pilots remain a vital part of air traffic control operations despite the introduction of data link systems such as ACARS. Voice communication problems can result in hazardous situations. For instance miscommunication has been identified as a primary factor causing runway incursions. It is therefore important to have an understanding of the problems and factors associated with voice communication problems. Regardless of the level of sophistication that the air traffic system achieves by the turn of the century, the effectiveness of our system will always comes down to how successfully we communicate. (Cardosi, 2001)


Use of nonstandard phraseology is a major obstacle to voice communications. Standard phraseology is intended to be easily and quickly recognized. Pilots and controllers expect each other to use standard phraseology. Standard phraseology helps lessen the ambiguities of spoken language and thus guarantees a common understanding among speakers:

• Of different native languages, or,

• Of the same native language but ...
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