Cookson (2011)

Cookson, S. (2011). “Tell them we are in emergency”: Linguistic factors contributing to the crash of Avianca Flight 052. Studies in Language and Culture, 2, 17-33.

On 25 January 1990, Avianca Flight 052 ran out of fuel and crashed after a missed approach to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York. A number of causal factors were involved in the crash, some of which were linguistic. The accident has accordingly been cited by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in justification of a worldwide programme to improve the language proficiency of pilots and air traffic controllers that came into full effect on 5 March 2011. In this paper the accident is analysed using the ‘Swiss cheese’ model of accident causation developed by Reason (1990) and adapted by Wiegmann and Shappell (2003). The analysis shows that, while the linguistic factors were indeed significant, there were numerous non-linguistic causal factors that were also significant. Furthermore, stress, fatigue and cultural factors are all shown to have had an adverse effect on the communication performance of the flight crew.

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Kopecka (2017) & Petrashchuk (2017)

A new book on specialist language has come out and it’s got two chapters on aviation English:

Kopecka, B. (2017). ‘Planes are birds’ metaphor: A cognitively oriented study of aviation vocabulary. In M. Grygiel (Ed.), Cognitive approaches to specialist languages (pp. 202-213). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars.

Petrashchuk, O. (2017). Aviation radiotelephony discourse: An issue of safety. In M. Grygiel (Ed.), Cognitive approaches to specialist languages (pp.214-233). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars.

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Clark (2017)

Clark, B. (2017). Aviation English research project: Data analysis findings and best practice recommendations (Cap. 1375). West Sussex: UK CAA.

“This independent report commissioned by the CAA investigates pilot / air traffic controller communication issues as evidenced by Mandatory Occurrence Reports (MORs), and proposes best practices to reduce miscommunication affected by substandard International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) language proficiency. This report follows an initial literature review of existing research on pilot / controller communication and ICAO language proficiency issues.”


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Silva (2016)

For her Master’s, my dear Ana Ligia Silva has carried out a needs analysis for the Brazilian Air Demonstration Squadron. You can download her thesis in Portuguese from the GEIA (Aviation English Research Group based in Brazil) website here.

Silva, A.L. (2016). Uma análise de necessidades de uso da língua inglesa por oficiais aviadores do Esquadrão de Demonstração Aérea da Força Aérea Brasileira [A needs analysis of English language use by aviators in the Brazilian Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron]. (Master thesis). Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Campinas, Brazil.

Here’s the abstract:

Although the interest in studies into the necessary English for international aviation has been growing, it still can be noticed that there is a gap in research on the needs for the use of English by pilots from the Brazilian military aviation. In this study we conducted a language needs analysis for the usage of English by Aviator Officers of the Air Demonstration Squadron (EDA) of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB), popularly known as “Smoke Squadron”. EDA’s mission is to represent the Brazilian Air Force and Brazil through air shows. Among its various responsibilities EDA represents FAB abroad as a diplomatic tool, and it spreads the media policy of the Air Force Command (COMAER). Through a qualitative research, we developed a case study in which we employed various methodological procedures, such as nonstructured and semistructured interviews, focus groups, document analysis and observation, and we heard several participants – Pilots in Activity, Veteran Pilots and English teachers from the Brazilian Air Force Academy (AFA).  The Present Situation Analysis (PSA) showed that the speaking ability in English – for   specific purposes (ESP), and for general purposes (EGP) – has not been directly assessed.  Nevertheless, the results show that all the 13 Pilots in Activity from EDA held, during the  study, the so-called “Card S”, which proves proficiency in EGP, according to the parameters established by COMAER. The Target Situation Analysis (TSA) demonstrates that the English language needed by the group is multifaceted. It includes the usage of standard phraseology for flight communication between pilots and air traffic controllers, in routine situations, and plain English for non-routine situations. On ground situation, there is evidence of need for the usage of general English (EGP) and specific vocabulary for aviation, in the performance of administrative and operational tasks. Similarly, EGP and specific vocabulary for aviation are required for interaction with the public, the press, authorities, members of other teams, among other parties, and also during exchange visits and the welcoming of international visits at the group’s  headquarters. The results also indicate that communications may occur by various means, such as radiotelephony, face to face and electronic media. The most needed skills to the group are listening and speaking, both during flight and on the ground, in ESP and EGP. In some cases, the reading and writing abilities become also necessary. This study provides theoretical and practical discussions about teaching and assessing English for aviation in the Brazilian military sphere, which can support the development of courses, syllabuses, production of teaching materials, specialized training for English teachers, and give rise to new studies about methodological aspects which may be useful to conduct further language needs analyses, in the military context or not.
Key words: Language Needs Analysis. English for Specific Purposes. Aviation English.
Air Demonstration Squadron from the Brazilian Air Force.
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Lucks et al (2016)

For the Portuguese readers among you, here’s an article written by the Aviation English teaching and training sector in the Brazilian Air Force (a.k.a. my workplace!):

Lucks, P., Souza, P., Raymundo, N., Guerreiro, N., & Aragão, B. (2016). Ensino e avaliação de língua inglesa para controladores de tráfego aéreo como requisito de segurança em voo [

Air traffic controllers’ English language training and assessment as a flight safety requirement]. Revista Conexão Sipaer, 7 (1), pp. 44-54.


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Pazyura, N. (2016)

New article! I’m not sure about the title of the journal. If you know the full reference, please drop me a line.

Pazyura, N. (2016). Main aspects in language training of non-English speaking airmen



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Strother, Fazal & Gurevich (2007)

Strother, J., Fazal, Z., Gurevich, M. (2007). Acculturated blended learning: Localizing a blended learning course for Russian trainees. Proceedings from the Sixth IASTED International Conference (p.455-460). Chamonix, France.

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