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Politeness is a Problem? Clarity and Miscommunication in Pilot-ATC Interaction
Unformatted Document Text:  Aviation Politeness 2 Communication is essential to the aviating process. All aspects of aviation are based on communication among members of the aviation system. Obtaining information, confirming location, maintaining situational awareness, responding to clearances, and a myriad of other activities are entirely dependent upon communication for their execution. Air traffic controllers (ATCs), flight crews, mechanics, weather forecasters and meteorologists, ground crews, and emergency personnel are dependent upon communication to coordinate their activity effectively and meet the greater goal of safe and efficient transport of people and cargo. Even though flying is the safest way to travel, there is room for improvement. In 1999 there were 2,049 civil aviation accidents resulting in a total of 690 fatalities (FAA, 1999). On average, approximately 2000 civil aviation accidents occur per year. The number of fatalities varies but has ranged between 600 and 1100 annually over the past six years (FAA, 1999). Miscommunication frequently contributes to aviation accidents. Consider the following cases: 1. On January 13, 1982 Air Florida flight 90 was departing from Washington National Airport in wintery conditions. The co-pilot noted that they were not reaching takeoff speed quickly enough. The captain dismissed the co-pilot = s concerns. Shortly after takeoff the airliner crashed into the Potomac river killing 74 on board and four on the ground. 2. On January 25, 1990 Avianca flight 052 was nearing JFK airport in New York City. The aircraft was running low on fuel and had been placed in a holding pattern three times as they waited to land. The pilot told his co-pilot to declare a fuel emergency. The co-pilot told air traffic control that they were A running out of fuel. @ Air traffic control kept them holding before clearing them to the airport. Once at the airport they executed a A missed

Authors: howard, john.
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Aviation Politeness 2
Communication is essential to the aviating process. All aspects of aviation are based on
communication among members of the aviation system. Obtaining information, confirming
location, maintaining situational awareness, responding to clearances, and a myriad of other
activities are entirely dependent upon communication for their execution. Air traffic controllers
(ATCs), flight crews, mechanics, weather forecasters and meteorologists, ground crews, and
emergency personnel are dependent upon communication to coordinate their activity effectively
and meet the greater goal of safe and efficient transport of people and cargo.
Even though flying is the safest way to travel, there is room for improvement. In 1999
there were 2,049 civil aviation accidents resulting in a total of 690 fatalities (FAA, 1999). On
average, approximately 2000 civil aviation accidents occur per year. The number of fatalities
varies but has ranged between 600 and 1100 annually over the past six years (FAA, 1999).
Miscommunication frequently contributes to aviation accidents. Consider the following
cases:
1.
On January 13, 1982 Air Florida flight 90 was departing from Washington National
Airport in wintery conditions. The co-pilot noted that they were not reaching takeoff
speed quickly enough. The captain dismissed the co-pilot
=
s concerns. Shortly after
takeoff the airliner crashed into the Potomac river killing 74 on board and four on the
ground.
2.
On January 25, 1990 Avianca flight 052 was nearing JFK airport in New York City. The
aircraft was running low on fuel and had been placed in a holding pattern three times as
they waited to land. The pilot told his co-pilot to declare a fuel emergency. The co-pilot
told air traffic control that they were
A
running out of fuel.
@
Air traffic control kept them
holding before clearing them to the airport. Once at the airport they executed a
A
missed


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