How to Communicate Effectively – Part 2

In this lesson from the cockpit I would like to share with you how pilots minimize communication errors in the cockpit.

  • Different words mean different things. We interpret words based on our own experiences and sometimes our culture. Take the work “sex” as an example. My interpretation and understanding of the word would definitely be different from yours. There are many other words that could be misinterpreted and therefore to eliminate this during flights, pilots and air traffic controllers use a “standard phraseology” for their communication. What they need to do is to learn them and use them for communication during all phases of the flight.
  • Clarify. Besides flying the aircraft, pilots have other responsibilities as well in the cockpit. They have to carry out other tasks such as managing the aircraft systems, monitoring the weather enroute as well as monitoring the enroute charts and maps. During a non-normal situation their workload will be increased further. All the above will have to be accomplished whilst communicating with the air traffic controllers (ATC) and because of the distraction, they could easily misinterpret the ATC instructions. To eliminate miscommunication and misinterpretation of ATC instructions, the procedure calls for both pilots to listen out to the communication and whenever in doubt, they have to clarify with the other pilot as well as with the controllers.
  • Good command of English. English is the medium used in aviation. As such it is a requirement for all pilots and air traffic controllers (ATC) to have a good command of the English language. It is now a mandatory requirement for all pilots and controllers to sit for a periodic “aviation English” test. Unsuccessful candidates will have to be retested or to attend a crash course in English before the retest, if required.
  • Proper workload management. Normally the pilot who is not manipulating the flight control is responsible for communicating with the controllers and the other pilot monitoring. The pilot tasked with the communicating with the controllers is also responsible for carrying out other tasks to provide support to the flying pilot. As such it is important for the Captain to ensure that the pilot doing the communication is not overly stressed and overloaded with other unrelated tasks.

Witten by Azharuddin Osman

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