Communication in Aviation Industry


Communication can be regarded as a means of exchange of information between two different parties. In the context of Aviation industry, the role of communication is vital. For the purpose of exchange of some crucial and essential information, instruction and command between cabin crew and Air traffic controller, there is a need of having some intensive means and types of communication. The presented research work is directed to reveal the degree of significance of communication system in aviation industry. With the help of some real life examples of air accidents, the research work is directed to reveal some critical consequences of miscommunication between pilots and ATC. For the purpose of accomplishing research study, descriptive research design is used. In addition to this, data is collected with the help of literature review, case study and interview method. In case study 3 cases of accidents and 3 cases of incidents are studied. In the research work, interview is conducted with 3 different individuals, who are working in aviation industry. Collected data is analysed with the help of descriptive analysis method. On the basis of data analysis, it has been revealed that human factor associated with communication is the prime reason behind failure of communication or errors in the communications. On the basis of analysis of the entire findings, the research paper concludes that elimination or reduction of human factor from the communication between pilots and ATC can be a vital solution of problems related to communication in aviation.

Chapter 1 Introduction

Research Background

Aviation has been emerged as one of the major means of transportation in contemporary environment. Air transport is the fastest means for long journeys as it saves some intensive amount of time and effort of passenger. In addition to this, increasing globalisation has also encouraged the air travelling in the most effective manner. Increasing number of air passengers, have also highlighted some concerns related to the safety and security of passengers during the flights (Wyss-Bühlmann 2005). There are some substantial number of critical accidents, which have raised the importance of security and safety of passengers. In this regard, some crucial reasons behind air accidents have been identified in most of the cases. High work load over pilots and Airport Transport Controllers (ATC), lack of communication between cabin crew members and ATC staff or communication of wrong information, misinterpretation of information, and technical failures can be identified as some of the critical reasons that can reflected in some of the intensive air accidents (Bibel 2010).

Among such critical reasons, it is found that human factor and faults are one of the prime reasons behind accidents and incidents related to the aviation. In this context, the paper quests for revealing some of the prime problems generated due to the human factors during the flight that can be resulted into the accidents. Lack of communication and miscommunication between pilot and ATC can also be considered as the prime reasons behind some of the major accidents that have been taken place in recent period of time (Illman 2001). The paper investigates such crucial accidents and reflects the role of communication between cabin crew member and ATC during flight from the perspective of safety and security of passengers.

Research Context

The research work is directed to investigate the disposition of communication in the aviation industry. Communication can be referred as the process of expressing own ideas, point of views and information to the counter party. Communication can also be known as the measures through which, better planning and coordination can be established for the purpose of accomplishing any tasks and practices in the most effective manner (Scannell 2007).  In direction to this, there are a number of different modes of communication, such as written communication, verbal communication, and non-verbal communication, which are generally preferred for communicating messages from one party to another. In different business industries, role of communication is vital for accomplishing different operations related practices in the most efficient and effective manner (Nielsen 2008). Aviation is one of such industries in which, lack of communication of crucial information or miscommunication between personals in different role can be reflected in aversive results such as air accidents, Mid-air collision, and crashes of aircraft. The prime reason behind the communication is the human factors and technological failure. The research work directs to reveal some of the most critical impact of human factors that can lead to lack of communication, miscommunication and misinterpretation of the information between pilots and ATC that directly results into air accidents (Aksoy and Denardis 2007).

Research Aim and Objectives

In order to direct all the research related activities towards a specific direction, it is essentials for the researcher to have a specific aim of the research work. In direction to this, the primary aim of this research work is to highlight the significance of communication in the aviation industry. With the help of this aim, the research work will highlight some of the major real life air accidents and major reasons behind such accidents.

For the purpose of accomplishing this aim, some of the crucial objectives of the research work can be presented as below:

  • To investigate different types of communication generally used in the aviation
  • To reveal some of the prominent types of miscommunication that generally takes place during the exchange of information between pilots and ATC during the flight and maintenance practices
  • To provide some concrete examples of real life cases related to air accidents so that significance of communication can be articulated
  • To recommend some of the crucial strategic measures with the help of which, problems and issues related to miscommunication can be resolved

Research Question

The research questions formulated for this work can be presented as below:

Research Question 1

RQ 1: to what extent, intensive and efficient communication between Cabin crew and ATC can be considered necessary in the aviation?

Research Question 2

RQ 2: What impact can miscommunication cast over safety and efficiency of the flight?

Research Question: 3

RQ 3: What are the different type of tools, technique, and mode of communication generally used within aviation industry?

Research Question 4:

RQ 4: What are the prime reasons behind the miscommunication between pilot and Air traffic Controllers?

Research Question 5:

RQ 5: What are some of the crucial measures that can be undertaken by the Airport authorities to reduce the errors in operations due to miscommunication between pilots and ATCs.

Research question 6:

RQ 6: How can we consider communication as an integral aspect of the maintenance process in aviation industry?

Research Question 7:

RQ 7: To what extent, effective communication can be considered crucial for effective maintenance of aircraft?

Research question 8:

RQ 8: What are the primary strategies that can be proved effective in enhancing communication between maintenance staff at the ground and pilots?

Research Rationale

The prime rationale behind this research work is that increasing demand of air travelling has put some intensive amount of pressure over pilots and Air Traffic Controllers. Increasing air traffic has resulted into air accidents and collisions (Bibel 2010). Lack of effective and efficient communication due to human factors and faults can be considered as the primary problem and issue in aviation, which result into different major accidents, and loss of lives and properties (Salas, Maurino and Allard 2010). In this context, the findings of this research work will be proved effective and efficient to highlight some of the major reasons of miscommunication that has ended into major accidents. Along with this, the research work will also highlight some crucial measures though which, the issues related to miscommunication in aviation industry.

Chapter 2 Literature Review


Literature review section of the research work will be directed to reveal some crucial and effective secondary data related to the research work. The literature review section of the research work will provide some of the crucial conceptual data regarding communication and its related errors in the context of aviation industry that result into serious accidents or incidents. In this regard, different literatures such books, journals and online articles will be reviewed so that an effective conceptual framework can be developed for the purpose of accomplishment of the research objectives in the most effective manner.

Air accidents due to human error

Above mentioned air accidents are expressing the role of human error and miscommunications such type of unwanted and unexpected events. For the purpose of explaining the disposition of such critical air accidents, Smith (2009) has indicated towards ‘Swiss Cheese Model’ or ‘Cumulative Art effect model’ presented by Reason (1990). As per this model, human feeling is the most prominent reason behind any accident. The defence mechanism adopted by the organisation to prevent such critical accidents is likely as the slices of the Swiss chess. Each Slice of Swiss cheese or layer of defence has some weaknesses that can be represented by the holes in the cheese. As per the model, any accident can take place only in the condition when all the holes of cheese or weaknesses of the defence related layers are aligned in one direction. Even if a single hole is not aligned or out of the way, there will not be any chances of accident.

Evaluation of the existing system

            In order to explain the existing system which are being used by ATC for maintaining some effective communication between a controller and pilot, Khoury, (2009) has presented some crucial findings. According to Khoury (2009), controller-pilot voice communication is one of the prime system and method used by ATC for the purpose of navigating the flights through congested airspace. In this system, ATC provide instructions or clearance to the pilot in the flight from Terminal Radar Approach Control facilities (TRACONs) and Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCCs). After receiving the message, the pilot is required to repeat the message for confirming the proper understanding. After hearing this read back, the controller is required to acknowledge that whether the message has been received perfectly or there is a fault in understanding. This entire communication system is known as “pilot-controller communication loop”.

In the support of this, the presentation of “pilot-controller communication loop” have provided in the report presented by Airbus (2004) in graphical form.

Figure: “pilot-controller communication loop”

(Source: Airbus 2004)

In the views of Zokic, Boras and Lazic (2012), the effective pilot control communication system established as a loop can be considered effective system of communication between pilot and controller. According to the author, in this system pilots and controllers avail some intensive chances to be interacted with each other prominently. Moreover effective passage of information can be possible with the help of this measure as double and cross checking of the message in the communication channel directs to eliminate the chances of the miscommunication.

            However, such findings have been criticised by Shawcross (2011) by saying that this type of communication loop undertaken by the ATC cannot be considered useful in the condition of heavy traffic. As overall time employed within the entire process is, in the conditions of busy root and schedule, it becomes hard for the controller to employ adequate time in communication with only one aircraft. In addition to this, as per this model, effective and attentive listening, and proper understanding of the instructions is also one of the major aspects of the success of this process. Some crucial factors such as lack in concentration, and fatigue can be proved harmful in the process of message receiving. In existing scenario, due to heavy workload and pressure, it becomes hard for the pilot and controllers to be attentive.

            Discussing the negative aspects of this pilot and controller system in detail, Paltridge and Starfield (2012) have also elaborated that in this system, verbal communication is the major part. Due to this reason, the role of proper understanding of different language and phrases becomes necessary. In this context, the lack of proficiency in speaking, writing and understanding of English language in cabin crew members or ATC staff can be proved as one of the prime reason behind failure of the system. In addition to this, this problem becomes prominent in the case, when the pilots or ATC are from non native speaking countries. In such cases proper understanding of instructions and orders becomes hard for pilots as well as ATCs.

            On the basis of this discussion, it can be seen that there are multiple literatures which are showing that there are some critical faults in the existing system followed for the purpose of undertaking the communication of crucial instruction and information between cabin crew and ATC, which can be resulted into some critical accidents.


           The literature review section of the research work has presented some of the crucial point of views of different authors and scholars on disposition of communication in aviation. The section has reflected that there are a number of different literary sources that has summarised that in order to make the air journey safe and effective for the passengers, it is essential for the Cabin crew members of Air Transport Controllers to have better and effective coordination and communication. In the aviation, there are a number of different methods of communication such as written communication, non-verbal communication, digital communication and analogue or radio communication. Different types of communication possess different types of usage and significance in the aviation. In addition to this, literatures are also pointing that human error is more prominent reason than technical failure behind any air accident or aircraft crashes. There are different examples of air accidents in which, the miscommunication and carelessness of pilots or ATCs became the prominent reason behind the some critical air accidents. For the purpose of having proper understanding of role of miscommunication in the air accidents, different literatures have reflected two prominent models, namely Swiss cheese model and Human Factors Analysis and Classification System (HFACS) model. These two models are indicating together that miscommunication in the Aviation industry become a triggers which aligns all the human related mistakes together that leads to the accident of the aircraft. In this way, different literatures presented in the paper have reflected the significance of communication in the special reference of the aviation industry.

Chapter 3 Research Methodology


            Research Methodology section of the research process aims to identify and select some effective and the most suitable methods and techniques required for collecting, aligning and analysing related data in order to resolve the research problem. In direction to this, for the research work, research methodology will serve as the blueprint for the entire research process (Dawson 2002). There are different crucial aspects of the research process, which will be discussed in this chapter of the research work in the most detailed and comprehensive manner.

Research design

            The first and foremost task before starting of any research process is the selection of the most effective and suitable research design. The research design ensures that all the research related activities should be undertaken as per the nature of the research work so that effective accomplishment of the research objectives can take place (Bergh and Ketchen 2009). The research design provides different procedures and type of study in direction to have an effective and scientific study. There are multiple research designs, such as descriptive, observatory, experimental, and exploratory, which are generally taken into account as per the nature of the research problem (Cresswell 2003).

            In the context of this research process, exploratory research designs is the most suitable research design for this research process. The research topic is exploratory in nature as there are no specific hypotheses associated with research problem. On the basis of the all the available evidences, there is a need of revealing the impact of communication in the aviation in order to resolve the research problem. No any specific set of procedures or framework can be taken into account for the purpose of revealing the well explored research problem. Owing to this reason, for the purpose of answering this real life problem effectively, the exploratory research design is the most suitable research design. This research design provides a wide scope for exploring different crucial data and facts related to the research problem with the help of multiple methods and procedures (Johnson, and Christensen 2010).

Research strategy

            For the purpose of undertaking the research study effectively, there is a need of having a well defined and structured research strategy, through which different types of data can be collected and analysed. In direction to this research process, first of all, a conceptual and theoretical framework has been prepared for the purpose of providing a strong background for the research work. After having a strong theoretical background, different real life case will be analysed so that in-depth understanding of issues can be availed. Moreover, for the purpose of availing practical data, transcripts of interviews will also be revealed. After collecting different types of data, discussion on the findings of such different type of data will be taken into consideration in order to accomplish the research objectives.

Research approach

            Research approach shows the mindset of the researcher regarding the flow of different crucial research activities and procedures. The selection of the most suitable research approach allows the researcher to framing the research process in the most effective manner. On the basis of the nature of the research problem, there can be two types of research approaches namely inductive and deductive research approach. In the inductive research approach some generalised theories are tried to be proved with the help of some specific observations. On the other hand, in deductive research approach, the flow of the research process is from general findings to specific results (Gravetter and Forzano 2011).

            In the context of this research process, inductive research approach will be the most suitable and effective research approach as it is aligned with the requirement of the research and its related strategy. In this research work, the phenomena of adverse impact of miscommunication between Pilots and ATC are tried to be revealed, which is generalised phenomena. For this purpose, the empirical study of different accidents and its causes have been taken place. In this way, the research process has been directed to reveal generalised findings with the help of some crucial and specific observation. In this way, the flow of the research is from specific to general, which justifies the adoption of inductive research approach for this research work (Burney 2008).

Data collection method

            For the purpose of availing some crucial and effective data collected in order to accomplish the research objectives, there is a need of having some crucial methods of data collection. There are two crucial methods that have been taken into account for this research process.

Primary data collection method

            Primary data collection methods enable the researcher to reveal the unprocessed, raw, practical and real life information related to the research context. All the information retrieved with the help of primary data collection method is confined with the help of personal experience of people (Rubin and Babbie 2010). For the purpose of having some primary information related with the research context, interview method has been taken into account. In this method, some vital information and perception of respondents regarding some specific research topic is collected by establishing personal interaction with them. During the interview some of the personal experience of respondents regarding miscommunication and its problems faced by them during the flight.

Secondary data collection method

            Secondary data collection methods allow the researcher to reveal significant secondary data related to the context of the research work. Secondary data is the data, which is collected processed and used by different authors and scholars already. These types of information are aimed to provide some processed and reliable facts with the help of which a feasible solution of the research work can be revealed. For the purpose of having secondary information, literature review method and case study method will be taken into account. In the literature review method, different literatures such books, journal articles, and other authentic online article related with communication in the aviation industry have been reviewed in the most effective manner (Padgett 1998).

            In addition to this, second method used in the research process is case study analysis. In this method, some real life cases of air accidents and cases that have been taken place due to lack of communication, have been reviewed for the purpose of analyzing the role of communication in the aviation industry. The prime rationale behind selecting this method is that study of some crucial accidents cases help in arranging some supporting evidences for the purpose of backing the argument made in the conclusion. In addition to this, with the help of this measure, some crucial and real life data related with miscommunication and its ill impact over aviation industry, which will enhance the creditability and reliability of the results of the research process (Marczyk, DeMatteo and Festinger 2005).

Interview designing

            For the purpose of conducting interviews, it is essential for the researcher to have proper designing of the interview process. For conducting interview first of selecting sample out of the entire target population is one of the most essential tasks for the researcher. For the purpose of selecting sample, random sampling measure has been taken into account (Cooper 1998). In the research work, interviews with 3 people have been conducted. All the interviewees are engaged in the aircraft maintenance and safety training related tasks. This sample is selected for the research work as these people are directly associated with aviation safety and communication related procedures. The views and experiences of such interviewees will be effective and useful for the purpose of revealing some crucial and effective aspects of the research problem. During the interview, the perception of interviewees regarding communication and its role in the aviation and their personal experience in this concern has been asked.

Ethical consideration

Ethical considerations pave the way for the incorporation valid approach towards the identification of research methods to collect strong data base. Ethical guidelines described by the university are properly included in the research while collecting data. It has provided assistance in authenticating the research base by ensuring the analysis of the data in an unbiased manner (Saunders 2003). The key respondents included in the interview process were assured about the confidentiality and privacy of the information provided by them. Any kind of personal information was not called for from the respondents, so that they can provide their responses easily without having concern for the disclosure of their personal information (Goddard and Melville 2004).

In addition to this, while conducting literature review care was considered to identify the literary sources, so as to maintain consistency of the information and key facts taken from them. In order to present the key facts properly, paraphrasing of the viewpoint of the scholars is followed for ensuring the originality of the thoughts and perspective about the regulations and their influence on the businesses (Kimmel 2007).

Data analysis methods

            For the purpose of analysing the data collected from three different methods, i.e. literature review, case study, and interview an integrated and descriptive method have been taken into consideration. As information related with the all the methods are subjective and theoretical by nature, qualitative analysis of the data has been taken into consideration. In this analysis, a subjective comparison among data retrieved from various sources has been done so that some points of similarity and dissimilarities can be revealed. On the basis of such crucial integration of different types of information together, some significant findings can be revealed on the basis of which, the most suitable solution of the research problem can be retrieved in the most efficient manner (Bryman and Bell 2007).


It can be inferred from the discussion in the chapter that deductive approach has provided assistance in identifying the data collection methods, so that the defined objectives can be proved. The strategic framework to conduct interview process is identified on the basis of the ethical approval from the university within the prescribed norms. Qualitative and descriptive aspects are taken into account to authenticate the data collection and interpretation process followed in the research. The analysis of different cases and incidents of different accidents have been taken into account for this research work for the purpose of accomplishing the research objectives.

Chapter 4 Case Study Analysis:


            In order to avail practical information related to the miscommunication and its impact over aviation, there is a need of analysing various cases related to the accidents and incidents in aviation. For this purpose, this section of the research work is aimed to analyse different major real life accidents so that significance of the communication in the aviation industry.

Case study analysis

            In the context of this chapter of the research work, there are some critical cases of air accidents and crashes. These cases are representing some of the critical impact of lack communication, which has led to some deadliest accidents ever in aviation history.

Case 1 Mid air Collision between Cessna 402 and a Rand KR2 (2008)    

            Mid-air collision between twin-engine and four seater Cessna 402C plan and single seater Rand KR2 on August 17, 2008, can also be recognised as one of the most critical accident that has highlighted the adverse impact of miscommunication between pilot and air Traffic controller. This accident was taken place above Coventry Airport, when due to miscommunication between Airport traffic controllers and pilot of Rand KR-2, some wrong instructions were provided by the controllers to the pilots. This mid air crash all five pilots boarding on two aircraft were died on the spot.

            The accident took place when, Cessna, which is a sister concern of aerial survey company Reconnaissance Ventures Ltd (RVL), was undertaking its routine training flight over Coventry Airport. At the time of accidents the pilots of Cessna were on the training drill called as ILS calibration work. In this training drill, pilots are taught and train at to fly at 122mph towards the runway, and suddenly pull up at 50ft to fly away so that they can be able land in bad weather conditions also. A night before the accident, the company informed the Airport’s traffic controllers about this ‘ILS calibration work’ drill at the airport, but the controllers were failed to understand the meaning of terminology used by the company for informing airport authorities about this drill. Due to this miscommunication between pilots and controllers, the nature of the flight, which was going to be undertaken by Cessna 402C aircraft at the morning of August 17, 2008, were in the state of ambiguity for the airport traffic controllers (BBC 2008).

            Without considering the implication of the flight of Cessna, the aircraft was permitted to approach to land in sequence behind the Rand KR-2. In this way, both the plane became aligned on the same path. After realising the mistake, the Airport Traffic controllers tried to alter the path of Rand KR-2, but tragically, there was no time left. The accident took place with few second after informing Cessna regarding the exact location of small Rand KR-2 at the airport (Conradi 2010).

            Another example of failure of communication between pilots and ATC has been highlighted in the case when the transport controllers at the Airport were also failed to inform the pilot of Rand KR-2 about the exact position of Cessna in relation to his Aircraft in time. At the speed of 122 MPH, it was not possible for the Cessna to avoid collision with Small aircraft which was also landing at the same lane path. As the result, the accident took place (The Telegraph 2012).

            All the five pilots boarded at both the plans, namely Brian Normington (pilot of Rand KR-2 aircraft) and Sophie Hastings (pilot of Cessna 402C) along with her three colleagues on the aircraft, John ‘Harvey’ Antrobus, James Beagley, and Sybille Gautreym, were not able to protect their lives. This accident has highlighted that in the context of aviation, mistakes in understanding of small terms can cost for valuable human lives (Conradi 2010).

Case 2: Linate Airport Disaster (2001)

            Linate Airport Disaster was another prominent examples of the failure of communication between ground controlling staff of an Airport and pilot of an aircraft. This accident took place on 8 October 2001, at Linate Airport in Milan, Italy. This accident was occurred due to miscommunication and misinterpretation of information by ATC of Linate Airport, Scandinavian Airlines Flight 686 was collided with Cessna Citation CJ2 at the time of Take off (Little Bits of History 2001).

            On the morning of 8th October, 2001, in foggy weather, and visibility was reduced to less than 200 meters, the collision of aircraft was occurred. In the morning of accident, Cessna Citation Aircraft was instructed by the Airport Transport controllers of the Airport to taxi along the northern taxiway (taxiway R5). This taxiway is parallel to the main runway form which, the Flight 686 of Scandinavian Airlines, carrying 110 people was to take off (Human error blamed for Milan crash 2001).

            Due to foggy environment and lack of clear vision, Cessna lost his way, and directed towards the main runway. At this point of time there was a loss of communication between airport traffic controller and pilot of Cessna due to which the Controller was not able to spot the upcoming danger. At same time, clearance orders were provided to the SAS MD-87 Flight 686 to take off from the same run way by the ATC of the Airport. In this way, the scene for collision between these two aircraft had been set. Soon after 53 seconds of taking of, the flight collided with Cessna aircraft (Koenig and Schultz 2009).

            As the results of this collision, 118 individual were died, among which 110 were boarded at SAS MD-87 Flight 686, four were on Cessna Citation aircraft and four people were on the ground. Along with this, four people from ground staff were also got injured seriously (Koenig and Schultz 2009).

            This accident was thoroughly investigated by Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo (ANSV). As per the investigation report published by agency in the year 2004, the prime reason behind this accident was the deficiencies in the ground communication system adopted by the airport. At airport, there was a lack of functioning ground radar system at the time of accidents, due to which the transport controllers were not able to spot the wrong direction of the Cessna aircraft at the runway. Moreover, at the airport, there weren’t any nonverbal means of communication such as flexes, signs, signals with the help of which pilots could be able to spot the right lane for takeoff (Agenzia Nazionale per la Sicurezza del Volo (ANSV) 2004). In this case, the study of circumstances of this accident has been revealed the significance of non verbal communication at airport.

Case 3: Singapore Airlines Flight 006 Accidents (2000)

            For the purpose of explaining the role of communication within the aviation sector, the case of accident of the crash of Singapore Airlines Flight 006, which was scheduled to fly from Singapore to Los Angeles via Taipei. The aircraft was Boeing 747-400, 9V-SPK, which was crashed into a bulldozer on a closed runway at CKS (Chiang Kai-shek Airport) airport, in Taiwan during its takeoff. The accident took place on the morning of 31st October 2000. On that morning due to the heavy rain, the overall visibility at the airport was low. In addition to stormy whether had also made the conditions typical for the pilots of the Airlines. The time of taking off, 179 individuals were boarded at the flight including, 3 flight crewmembers, 17 Cabin crew member, and 159 passengers (Victor 2011).

            At the airport, the runway 05R was partially closed for repairs and other construction. At the time of the accident, the runway was blocked with different construction related equipments, i.e. one small bulldozer, two vibrating rollers, two excavators, and one air compressor. Along with this, the run way was also blocked with concrete jersey barriers and various pits (Aircraft accident report 2006).

            The airport air traffic controllers (ATC) assigned the aircraft to taxi to runway 05L. Taxiway, namely Sierra Sierra West Cross was cleared for the aircraft to reach on the right track or runway. The 05L runway runs parallel to the block runway 05R. The prime reason behind this accident was identified as the mistake of the pilot to receive the right message as instead of receiving 05L as the taking off runway, the pilots of the aircraft received 05R as the take off runway for the flight. Moreover, due to stormy weather and poor visibility at the airport, the pilot also could not locate the right way to the right runway, soon the aircraft was on the way blocked runway, i.e. 05R (Aircraft accident report 2006).

Due to heavy fog on the run way, cabin crew members of the flights could not be able to see the obstacles in the runway and its blockage, and soon after 41 second of starting the takeoff, the Aircraft collided with construction equipment placed on the blocked runway and construction pits. In this accident, total 83 fatalities were registered in which, there were 79 passengers and 4 cabin crew members. Along with this, there were 39 serious injuries and 35 minor injuries were registered in this accident (Aircraft accident report 2006).

            Along with bad weather, miscommunication and misinterpretation of information between pilots of the aircraft and airport transport controller is also identified as the primary reason behind this air crash. The ATC of the airport was not able make the pilots of aircraft aware about the blockage of the run. Instead of taking 05L runway for its taking off, the pilot of the aircraft took wrong turn that headed the aircraft to the blocked 05R runway. In addition to this, at the airport also there was not any equipment or technology installed that can be able to communicate the wrong direction to the pilot or ATC of the airport. In this way, the lack of some effective equipments and technologies installed at the airport became the reason of communication gap between Cabin crew of the flight and ATC of the Airport in the case of Singapore airport crash (Harris 2011).

Case 4: Incident of Airbus A319

            In order to review the significance of the communication within aviation sector, the incidents of Airbus A319 can also be taken into consideration. On this incident, AAIB published a report in its bulletin in August 2008. As per the report, proper communication between pilot and ACT is one of the most crucial elements, which is necessary at every point of journey. This incident was related to the Airbus A319-131, G-DBCI, which are manufactured in the year 2006 (AAIB Bulletin 2008).

            On 18 April 2007 at 0944 hrs, the aircraft was departing from Amsterdam to London. Weather conditions were normal for the flight of the Aircraft. Suddenly at the letter stages of taking off roll for the Aircraft, there was a rapid drift accelerated in the plan’s direction to the right side of the centreline of the survey. The aircraft was lifted off at the edge of the runway. After having this sudden technical deficiency, the aircraft was again headed towards its Standard Instrument Departure (SID) at the central line of the runway. Later investigation done by the Dutch Safety Board delegation, it was revealed that this rapid yaw took place during the takeoff roll of the Aircraft due to deflection of the rudder of plane. In this incident it was a minor problem. It is due to the reason that speed of the plane was under the control, so the pilot and cabin crew of the aircraft was able to handle the situation. However, if the speed of the plane was high, it would have resulted into serious accident. At the time it was miscommunicated to the Air safety board that this rapid yaw is only a minor problem and there is no any aircraft malfunction is responsible for this rapid yaw. Due to this miscommunication, the aircraft was proved for passenger flights for a period after the incident. Although there was no any fatal injury in this incident yet, in future prospect, this problem in Airbus A319-131, G-DBCI can be proved harmful (AAIB Bulletin 2008).

            After a significant period of time of the incidents, in August 2008, AAIB completed its investigation and reported that along with main pilot, the proper training for co-pilot is necessary so that he can handle the duties of the main pilot in any contingent situation such as rejected take off and emergency landing. In addition to this, the incidents also highlighted that the communication between pilot and ATC is also crucial that it also helps in revealing any technical deficiencies related to the aircraft. Form the perspective of passenger’s safety, information provided by the pilots to ATC can be proved effective and crucial (AAIB Bulletin 2008).

Case 5: Incident of Citation 525, D-ITAN and Boeing 777 300ER, TC-JJA

            Another crucial incident that can be taken into account for the purpose of revealing the adverse impact of miscommunication between pilot and ATC during the flight is the Incident of Citation 525, D-ITAN and Boeing 777 300ER, TC-JJA. In this incident, the misinterpretation and misunderstanding of the information exchanged between the cabin crew of Citation 525, D-ITAN and traffic controllers at London Airport. On 27 July 2009 at 1440 hrs, the flight of Citation 525, D-ITAN was taken off to depart London city airport. The aircraft was provided instructions by the Airport’s ATC to climb initially to 3,000 ft. However, due to communication error, the pilots of the aircraft were not able to understand the instructions clearly. Due to unclear communication, the pilot read back the instruction as to clear the altitude as 4,000 ft. This was a read back error, which went unnoticed by the cabin crew member.

            In the similar period of time, TC-JJA flight, which was flying with the aircraft Boeing 777 300ER, was also permitted to descend at the height of 4000 ft. The aircraft was allowed to descended towards the airport as it was to land on the runway 27R at Heathrow airport. In this way, due to miscommunication, two different planes (i.e. Citation 525, D-ITAN and Boeing 777 300ER, TC-JJA) become aligned into the same directions, at the same altitude and most importantly at the same time (AAIB bulletin: D-ITAN and TC-JJA 2009).

            After realising the mistake and understanding the situation, the pilot of Citation 525, D-ITAN climbed through 3000ft and took a right turn for avoiding the collision. In this process, D-ITAN passed TC-JJA flight with reciprocal heading. In this incidents D-ITAN was 0.5nm way and 100 to 200 ft below to the TC-JJA flight. The intelligence and presence of mind of pilots of the D-ITAN has prevented the occurrence of a serious accident. In the incident, due to clear weather and vision, the pilots of D-ITAN was able to see the TC-JJA aircraft in time, otherwise, it would have another massive accident due to miscommunication. In this incident, there was a lack of communication between both the plans as in the short succession; TC-JJA generated three TCAS RAs, but D-ITAN was not able to respond any of them (AAIB bulletin: D-ITAN and TC-JJA 2009).

Although there were no injuries in this accident, yet this incident highlighted the problem related to miscommunication in exchanging some crucial information related to the position and flying altitude. The wrong information about the existing altitude of aircraft delivered to the ATC made it hard for controller to manage the air traffic near the Heathrow airport. This incident has reflected the practical example of the hurdles and issues faced by pilots and controller to the lack of proper and clear communication between them.

Case 6: NAV Canada and Vancouver Tower: Vancouver International Airport, British Columbia (2004)

The case of Vancouver Tower and NAV Canada has also indicted towards the significance of the communication in the aviation. The incident has elaborated the risk of Collision on the Runway due to the lack of effective communication between pilots of aircrafts and transport controller at the airport. In the incident, a privately owned Cessna 182 (C-FTGQ) faced a critical risk of collision on the runway because of getting miss-instructed from the side of Vancouver Tower south (TS) controller at the Vancouver International Airport, British Columbia. Aircraft was flying to Vancouver International Airport, British Columbia from Victoria, British Columbia. The controller directed the flight to the active runway, i.e. 08R of the airport for landing. However, at the same time, WestJet Airlines Boeing 737 (WJA168) was ready to take off from the 08R runway of the airport. It was TS controller’s mistake that took both the aircrafts on the same runway. As soon as the TS controller realised his mistake, he instructed the Cessna to change its direction to the Runway 12R, which was 4500 feet from the threshold of the runway 12R. At this time, the Cessna was about to touch the grounds of threshold. However, the pilot of Cessna correctly read back the instruction, immediately moved towards the runway 12R (Aviation investigation report: A04P0047 2007).

            As soon as Cessna turned of onto the runway 12R, WJA168 was cleared for take-off. Although, Cessna pilot has started to be moved towards the Runway 12R, yet it was not completely exited from the 08R runway. The TS controller was not able to anticipate the movement of the Cessna and allowed the WJA168 to have take-off role. When TS controller saw that Cessna was still on runway, TS controller instructed the aircraft to exit the runway as soon as possible and stay to the right-hand side taxiway to the runway. At same time, WJA168 passed Cessna with a minor gap. At the time of crossing, WJA168 was 200 feet above and 100 feet to the left side of Cessna. In this way it was the minor escape (Aviation investigation report: A04P0047 2007).

            The prime problem identified in this incident is the miscommunication of instruction provided by the Air transport controller (ATC) to the aircraft regarding sequencing of landing and taking off the flights from the same run. However, there was no loss of lives and properties in this incident, yet still this incident has highlighted some concerns related to effective communication of commands and information between pilot and air-traffic controller.


            Miscommunication or lack of communication can be proved critical from the perspective of safety of passengers. Some of the accidents (i.e. Singapore Airlines Flight 006 (2000), Linate Airport Disaster (2001) and Collision between Cessna 402 and a Rand KR2 (2008)) have been studied in the chapter has reflected that miscommunication between the ATC and pilots resulted in the loss of lives and property at significant. Some crucial incidents have also been studied in the chapter in which, the risk of collision and accidents reached at its peak due to miscommunication. In this way, this chapter has highlighted some critical real life accidents and incidents for the purpose of highlighting the role of communication in aviation.

Chapter 5 Interview Data Analysis


            In order to reveal relevant and vital primary data related to the significance of communication in the context of aviation industry, interview method has been taken into consideration. In this regard, three interviews with three individuals from different personal and professional background have been undertaken within this section of the research work.

Discussion on the findings

            On the basis of the overall analysis of the entire responses of the interviewees from three different interviewees, there are some crucial points about communication is maintenance and safety of the aircrafts can be revealed. These points are presented as below:

  1. Communication is one of the most crucial requirements in the aviations, as lack of communication or miscommunication can lead to some massive accidents that can claim for human lives and properties
  2. Communication between pilots and airport authority and transport controlling authority is also important as it helps in better air safety planning and management.
  3. Changes in sifts is the major and crucial time when chances of the miscommunications remain highest.
  4. At time shift changing it is not possible to have face to face communication every time. In the absence of face to face communication, different written methods are used by the pilots to communicate and handing over shift to another. Improper understanding and knowledge of written communication and instruction may lead to harm the quality of communication within the aviation.
  5. Human factor is the most prominent reasons behind the miscommunication and its related problems faced by the pilots during the flight.
  6. Human training and use of different new and innovative measures of oral communication so that the miscommunication in the aircraft safety and maintenance process can be minimised up to a significant level.

These all the findings revealed with the help of the interview of three different individuals from different background and level of experiences are based on the personal experience and perception of people working in air safety and maintenance field.

Chapter 6 Conclusion and recommendations


            On the basis of the review of the entire findings of the research work, two crucial recommendations can be provided to the airport authorities for reducing the communication related errors.

  1. The airport authorities are required to enhance their research and development related capacity, so that they can be able to develop new and innovative measures of communication. With the help of new and innovative means of communication overall level of human involvement in communication can be decreased, which becomes the prime reason behind gap of communication.
  2. Training and development of pilots and ATC is also one of the crucial areas in which, there is a need of some intensive amount of development for enhancing communication efficiency of the organisation. Newly recruited employees should be made clear about the significance of the communication during the flight. In the training session they should be provided with some intensive amount of information related with different mode of communication used for efficient exchange of information.
  3. Along with this, airport authorities are required to have frequent monitoring and evaluation of the existing communication system so that its faults can be controlled in the most effective manner. For this purpose, frequent feedbacks from pilots and members of Air Traffic Controllers are essential.
  4. For the purpose of improving the quality of information exchange between maintenance staff and pilots, there is a need of enhancing face to face interaction between cabin crew members and ground maintenance staff. The written communication sometimes may lead to exchange of incomplete and unclear information. In existing period of time, the interaction between pilots and maintenance staff is not popular and well practiced trend. There is a need of working upon this aspect
  5. The pilots and other cabin crew members should also be provided with crucial maintenance related technical training so that they can be able to describe the technical problems in the aircraft to the maintenance staff in the most effective manner.

These are some crucial recommendations that can be proved effective for airport authorities to maintain an adequate level of communication between pilot and ATC.


            Presented research work has directed to reveal the role of communication within the aviation. For this purpose, in the research work, a number of different literatures and real life accidents as well as incidents have been reviewed. Moreover, three interviewees have also been conducted with people, who are working within aviation and aircraft maintenance industry. In the research work, there are different aspects of communication in aviation such as types of communication, techniques used for communication, types and nature of miscommunication, problems faced by pilots, airport authorities, and passengers due to miscommunication, and so on, have been investigated in detail. On the basis of entire findings of different types of data collected from various sources, it can be extracted that communication between cabin crew of the aircraft and Airport Traffic Controller (ACT) is one of the essential requirements of a safe and secure air journey. There are a number of real life incidents, which has been discussed in the research work in which, miscommunication between pilots and ATC has been resulted into critical air accidents.

            The findings of the research work have been proved effective in answering different research question formulated in the earlier sections of the paper. First research question for this research work was to reveal the necessity of intensive and efficient communication between Cabin crew and ATC. In the response of this question, different real life accidents and incidents have been highlighted in the research work, which are reflecting consequences of the lack of proper and adequate exchange of information between cabin crew and ATC. In addition to this, in the interview, it has been revealed that for the safe air journey, there is a need of proper and effective co-ordination between flight pilots and ground staff and controller. The instructions and commands provided by controller direct the pilots to have safe take off and landing of flight on the airport without facing any difficulty. Along with this, in the aircraft maintenance related practices, pilots are required to illustrate some critical faults and technical issues faced buy him in the aircraft during the flight. For this purpose, there is a need of effective communication medium. In this regard, the interview findings has illustrated that written communication related practices undertaken by pilots for communicating with maintenance team, sometime creates problems of better understanding of commands and instructions. This problem in communication leads to affect quality of maintenance related services. In this way, it can be considered that communication plays a vital role in aviation industry.

            Second research question for this research work is directed identify some of the critical impacts of miscommunication that can be reflected over safety and efficiency of the flight. The case study section of the research study provides empirical answer of this research question. There are multiple critical air accidents cases related to mid-air collision, and crashes that could have been avoided if there was effective and adequate communication between pilots and ATCs. In this way, from the overall review of different findings, it can be revealed that different impacts of miscommunication, such as misinterpretation of instructions, mid-air collision, landing on wrong runway, and aircraft crashes, can be seen in the aviation.

            In addition to this, third research question asked in the research process have queried for some effective and crucial measures of undertaken by the Airport authorities to reduce the errors in operations due to miscommunication between pilots and ATC. In regard to this question, it has been revealed with the help of review of different litterateurs that human factors can be considered as one of the major reasons behind different critical problems related to miscommunication in aviation. Along with this, interview section of the research process has also revealed that majority of problems emerge due to lack of effective communication at the time of shift changing. In this context, it can be concluded that the airport authorities are required to undertake some of the crucial steps for the purpose of reducing the human intervention in communication process. Moreover, proper and effective training regarding aviation communication skills can be considered as some of effective measures adopted by airport authority for reducing communication related errors.

            Moreover the research paper has also reflected that along with ATCs, the communication of pilots is also important with maintenance staff. Maintenance is one of the most crucial aspects in aviation, which leads to decrease the technical and non human factors that can be proved responsible for accidents. Miscommunication of technical problems in the aircraft leads to faults in the maintenance process that can be reflected in air accidents and crashes in future. The pilots are required to elaborate the technical problem in the aircraft they faced during the flight, in the most comprehensive manner so that maintenance team can be able to sight the exact problem and fixed it effectively. In addition to this, it has also been sighted in the research process that written communication between pilot and maintenance team is one of the prime reason behind miscommunication. In this regard, promotion of direct interaction can be regarded as one of the major and effective phenomenon towards the enhancement in the training and development practices of the business organisation.

            In this way, findings of the research work has answered the all the research questions in the most effective manner and reflected that from the perspective safety of passengers, effective communication plays a vital role.

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