A broader view of communicative competence for aeronautical communications: Implications for teaching and high-stakes testing
Keywords:communication, pilot, ATCO, English, aviation
This paper examines language used in radio communication between pilots and Air Traffic Controller Officers (ATCOs). It demonstrates that such communication is extremely complex, requiring a certain level of technical knowledge and is influenced by many other observable factors. Using research data from two studies involving nearly 200 aviation English professionals, this paper first presents a matrix that maps the construct of aeronautical radiotelephony (RT) communication (MONTEIRO, 2019a). Then, it explores the perceptions of a group of pilots and ATCOs on the multiple factors that may impact communication in this professional context. There then follows an application of this emerging list of factors in the analysis of a non-routine scenario of pilot/ATCO interaction. Integration of findings confirms the many complex features that form the communicative exchanges in this highly technical domain and the range of competencies required for effective and safe outcomes. Implications for teaching and high-stakes testing of these aviation professionals are discussed with the aim of improving communicative competence above a purely linguistic level and to increase the validity of inferences drawn from test results.
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