TECHNICAL COMMUNICATION’S ROLE IN AVIATION

Standard

Who is Captain Neil Kliebert?

Captain Neil Kliebert

An aspiring aviator ever since he can remember, now Envoy Air Captain Neil Kliebert eagerly meets and greets everyone that boards his aircraft. Back in 2005, Neil graduated from Louisiana Tech University in Professional Aviation. He then became a flight instructor for Louisiana Tech University teaching future pilots and building required flight hours and experience. Now he is flying for Envoy Air Inc. (a regional air carrier in Irving, Texas, formerly American Eagle Airlines) since March 2008. Captain Neil currently flies a Bombardier CRJ 700 based out of Chicago O’Hare airport.  He enjoys his job tremendously and is ecstatic about recently becoming a Captain for Envoy where he gets to lead and motivate his flight crews. He is a real people person and relishes the fact that he helps passengers achieve their transportation needs. Captain Neil was recently awarded the Envoy President’s Award for his exceptional contributions to his company.

Why do Pilots Need to Communicate?

Pilots do not ordinarily compose large amounts of technical writing, but they do use an enormous amount in the completion of their daily duties. They must be well read on the Federal Aviation Regulations (F.A.R.), Aeronautical Information Manual (A.I.M.), Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), Weather Charts, Standard Instrument Departures (S.I.D.), and Standard Terminal Arrival Routes (S.T.A.R.) just to name a few. Pilots then use this information to safely transport their passengers from departure gate to arrival gate. Without the proper use of these technical writings, air transportation would come to an abrupt halt. Pilots mostly use technical verbal communication. The communication is specific and precise. Certain words in a specific order are used to avoid confusion in the aviation world. Neil says “Our manuals have [them] in bold and quotations, there’s no confusion, there’s no doubt.” Neil explained that their company manuals use “standard A.T.C. [Air Traffic Control] phraseology.” Devoid of precise universal communication, written and verbal, the industry would be in chaos.

Why is Technical Communication like a Highway in the Sky?

Captain Neil Kliebert’s Flight Routes

A pilot uses technical communication to form a three dimensional mental image of the surrounding air traffic and maintain their correct course. Technical communication with Air Traffic Control is basically the “road” in the sky that a pilot travels on. Standardized traffic routes are created for pilots to use in the form of S.I.D.’s and S.T.A.R.’s. Air Traffic Control will clear pilots for these routes through radio communication. Since radio communication with Air Traffic Control is essentially a “party line”, efficient radio communication is essential. S.I.D.’s and S.T.A.R.’s expedite this process and quickly allow pilots to know which road they are cleared to be on.

How Does Technical Communication Make Air Travel Safe?

Communication is a key factor in the equation that makes aviation the safest form of transportation. Without its exact communication the industry could not achieve this high degree of safety. Safety and communication in the aviation industry are intertwined. Safety is utterly dependent on how well all parts of the aviation world communicate with each other. Poor communication would severely denigrate the system. This is why the International Civilian Aviation Organization (ICAO) chose to use only one language for aviation communication: English. All pilots, domestic and international, must use English and the correct standardized terminology when communicating with Air Traffic Control and other pilots. This arrangement keeps everyone on the same sheet of music and the system operating optimally.

Guest Blogger  Chad Laviolette

 

Advertisements

Commanders of the Skies

Standard

Commanders of the Skies

­­­­­­­­__________________________________________________

USAF: Air Traffic Controllers

Emmett Atkins spent 24 years as an air traffic controller. His career as a controller started when he joined the United States Air Force and after his 5 year duty, he retired and began his 19 year ATC job at the Memphis International Airport. As a controller, Emmett instructed pilots, both domestic and foreign, all while ensuring the safety for those on the ground and in the sky.

 

What lead Emmett to Air Traffic Control?

Growing up in Louisiana, Emmett would communicate with local crop duster pilots, from then on he knew that air traffic controlling was the career for him. The military provided him with a great education in which he used outside of the military. In addition to being an air traffic controller, he earned his private pilot license, instrument rating, and even made plane deliveries for various aircraft companies throughout the nation. Between flying and being a controller, he chose the job he was best at, Air Traffic Controlling.

How complex is communication in Air Traffic Control?

According to Emmett “communication is complex in all three areas: listening, speaking, and writing.” Air Traffic Control has different job roles that require different forms of communication. The different type of communication varies from job to job within the air traffic control tower, but no matter the form it must be effective to ensure the safety of all pilots.

How do Controllers adapt their communication with different pilots?

While the type of pilot will vary depending on their job, the communication between controllers and pilots will remain the same. There are many terms a pilot must know, Emmett says “phraseology is identical no matter the type of pilot they speak to.” There are only two ways that the quality of the communication could be different. The U.S. military uses an UHF, ultra-high frequency, which is different from the civilian style of VHF, very-high frequency radio. Though there is a frequency change, the controller can still keep an effective bridge of communication from the tower to the cockpit.

What role does communication play in emergency situations?

When an emergency situation occurs, communication plays a crucial role in how the end result will be either positive or disastrous. According to Emmett, the most important task for the air traffic controller would be to communicate with the pilot to determine what the emergency is and work toward the best possible solution. The first crucial step in finding a solution is to make communication between the pilot and the controller private and personal as possible, according to Emmett. The second crucial step in the solution would be “getting the pilot on the ground the safest was possible.”

How do Controllers manage communication with foreign pilots?

Since the United States is the forerunner in the aviation industry, most other countries strive to maintain policies similar to the Federal Aviation Administration. The English language has become the standard language for the aviation industry on a global scale. Though English is the standard, it does not mean it is a rule of law that must be followed by other nation’s aviation programs. According to Emmett, “foreign pilots might lack clarity and efficiency when communicating phraseology, but they pick up the slack with flying skills.” Since communication is vital to safety, both controller and the pilot must be able to overcome communication barriers.

How does written communication effect Air Traffic Control?

Written communication plays its own special role in air traffic control that sets it apart from the rest. Emmett says the most important forms of written communication are write-ups due to a pilot violation, a flight plan that is filed through Flight Service Station, and accident/incident reports. This form though valuable, does have limitations.

Emmett ended his discussion on communication in air traffic control “a controller is useless without: coffee, coffee, coffee, and coffee.”

Zach Mire, Guest Blogger

Communication in Professional Aviation

Standard


 

The importance of communication in Professional Aviation is not well known to the general public. I was granted the opportunity to interview a stage check flight instructor John Champagne, who won the award of Flight Instructor of The Year at Louisiana Tech. A stage check flight instructor job duties entail the assessing and evaluating of other instructor’s students so that they meet a required level of performance as well as teaching students how to fly in a safe and professional manner. John became interested in airplanes as a child and has always had a passion for flying.  

 

Types of Aviation Communication 

There are many types of communication that Professional aviation deals with including the following: radio communication, written communication, and verbal communication between the crew in all phases of flight. As a flight instructor John teaches students how to properly speak and communicate with other pilots and ATC during all phases of flight from engine start up to engine shutdown. Before a flight John must sit with a student pilot and review the flight procedures as well as how to deal with any sort of emergency situation that might occur. In flight the importance of clear and concise radio communication cannot be stressed enough. Both the instructor and the student must maintain constant radio communication using the proper word usage and phraseology with each other as well as other pilots in the surrounding area. As a stage check instructor written communication is one of the most important aspects of professional aviation. After a flight a flight instructor must do the following which includes logging the flighthours, writing a detailed review of the flight itself that is followed by the student’s overall performance in the air. In between each flight ground knowledge must be reviewed as well. John must teach students the written portion of the FAA’s ground knowledge test using a variety of documents that cover much of the tested material.  

 

Communicating with students 

Like all instructors, John must maintain an open line of communication for all of his students so that scheduling can be set up between them as well as answer any questions that his students may have for him. An open line of communication is important between instructor and student in case of any need of scheduling conflict needs to be resolved or a lesson needs to be canceled due to weather.  

 

Dangers of Miscommunication  

There have been multiple tragic accidents throughout the history of aviation such as landing on the wrong runway, cutting aircraft off, as well using the wrong phraseology. As a result of these accidents many regulations and improvements in communication have been made to prevent further tragedies. All pilots like John are taught a standard format of communication as well as to read back all instructions given to them word for word to insure all information is accurate. For flight instructors, such as John it is important to teach his students the proper terminology and phrases pilots use so that they may fly in a safe professional manner.  

 

Developing Communication Skills 

One of the more difficult task for students is to learn how to communicate on the radios with other pilots and ATC. John notes that “At first most students have a fear of talking on the radio but through practice and training anyone can learn how to be effective and professional while communicating in the world of professional aviation”.   

Cody Broussard, guest blogger

A Great Pilot

Standard

 An Even Better Communicator

 

 

keith

Captain Adams in the cockpit

For airline pilots, communication is probably the second most important skill, right behind the flying experience.  It plays a major role in getting the flying public from one place to another.  Their whole job is wrapped around it and they must be able to execute it perfectly.

I was able to sit down with Captain Keith Adams for an interview and get an idea on what it is like to be an airline pilot.  He works for United Airlines and flies the Boeing 737.  A normal day for Captain Adams is meeting with the first officer and reviewing the flight plan, which is written in some technical form.  After, he must brief the entire crew on what to expect for the day.  Then, he has to properly communicate with gate agents, flight attendants, ground personnel, air traffic control, and other airplanes.  Pilots would not talk to the flight attendants the same way they would to air traffic control because the lingo changes.

“You will not get very far in aviation without communication,” said Captain Adams.  When pilots fly, they have to know whom they are talking to, why they are talking to them, and what type of communication to use.

Written communication is just as important in this industry.  “Documents such as maintenance reports must be very precise when writing them in the captain’s log,” Captain Adams told me.  There are numerous reasons why a captain would have to write a technical report.  Some reasons could be for aircraft malfunctions and some for in-flight airplane emergencies, which causes the pilots to land at a different airport than they had planned for.  This is a big deal because landings at unplanned airports do not happen as often as people think and important people need to be notified.

A captain even has the authority to deny boarding to a passenger that he or she thinks will cause harm to him or herself or any of the other passengers. “I had to deny a passenger here in the states wanting to fly to Europe because she was sick and I thought that she would get the other passengers sick, or worsen her condition,” Captain Adams said.  Since this was the case, the captain had to write a detailed report stating reasons why this happened the way it did.

Other forms of written communication could be messages sent from the aircraft to other controllers, but not as technical as a report.  These scenarios could be flying oversees to other countries that know English, but do not know how to speak it properly.  “We have a program called CPDLC, which stands for controller pilot data link communications.  It works like a text message and we are basically messaging foreign air traffic controllers certain details about our flight.  We do this so we do not have to talk to them on the radio and possibly miss an important instruction because of their inability to properly communicate,” Captain Adams explained.

Before a pilot can communicate, he or she must first be able to listen.  “A pilot never wants to lose his or her situational awareness,” said Captain Adams.  Having situational awareness means listening not only to the air traffic controller, but other pilots as well.  This helps build a mental picture of what is going on around the pilots and lets them act accordingly.  While airplanes may change from two to four engines or props to jets, one thing that will always stay the same in aviation is the fact that we communicate.

 

Posted by Matthew Adams, guest blogger

 

Communication: You Want to Do it Right

Standard
keelan

Carnal at the controls

Communication: You Want to Do it Right

 

Communication to aviation is as important as wings on an airplane. You will not be in the air very long without it, and that could mean the difference between life or death.

When pilots are flying, the control tower and themselves need to be communicating clearly at all times.  Trouble is near when there is a break in communication. When a flight instructor has a student, they must be able to communicate well with them because they depend on the instructor’s communication ability to accomplish the task right.

I had the chance to sit down and interview Keelan Carnal. He is a flight instructor here at Tech and also flies as a corporate pilot. Carnal will soon have enough hours and experience to start flying for the airlines.

When I asked him how important communication is in aviation, he said,“ You will not teach anybody anything without being able to properly communicate with them.” He even went on to say how he communicates with himself when he flies solo just to make sure he is not forgetting anything.

Another form of communication that can be overlooked is written communication. Just like earlier, you have to vary your communication strategy depending on what type of person you are talking to. Maybe this person cannot get the concept by the way it is being communicated to him or her, but if it is written or drawn out, it might spark something and get them on the right track.

As far as writing technical reports or documents, Carnal said he only has to do that when he has to write up some malfunction about the aircraft. However, you really have to be specific and technical in a way to get the mechanics to understand exactly what the problem is. “Altitude, time, power setting, weather conditions are all items that must be included in the report, along with what was happening to the aircraft,” he told me.

Throughout the interview, Carnal did stress on the importance of varying communication styles with different people when instructing. “Not all students learn the same way, so you are continuously changing your approach,” Carnal said. Instructors would not communicate the same way with a student that has zero flight hours and another student that has one thousand flight hours. I believe this is true, because I have been able to fly with different instructors and I remember how each one told me the same thing in a different way.

Listening is another key factor in being able to communicate well. Carnal stated, “You will not be able to communicate correctly if you do not listen, and if you don’t listen, you will not know what to communicate.”

Failing to communicate properly is something that pilots attempt to avoid. When that happens, everyone will not be on the same page. When every pilot does not understand what is going on, accidents start occurring.

“It is all about what type of person you are talking to that depends on what type of communication skill is needed,” Carnal said.   The key is finding out what important skill to use to get the message across. In the airplane, things happen quickly, so being able to know what to say and how to say it in time critical situations can make a huge difference.

Posted by Matthew Adams, guest blogger