Aviation English

English in aviation

English is the universal language of communication used in aviation. However, the English of international aviation is not English for general purposes nor English for international purposes. Aviation English, and specifially military aviation English, is a language for specific purposes but it is even more restricted than that. The terms are Military aviation English - aircraft vocabulary and specialized language termsthose used in everyday work on aircraft, and cover parts of the aircraft, manipulating the aircraft on the ground and in the air, instructions to passengers, conversations with air traffic control, weather, emergencies, etc. They are used everyday by pilots, cabin staff, maintenance crews and ground staff worldwide.

English in aviation as a code

Much of the English of aviation can be classified as a code that is used in a very restricted context, known as standard phraseology, to ensure unambiguous pilot-controller communication. The language used employs a very specific set of vocabulary, expressions and functions.

Written aviation English

Written communication in aviation English typically takes place through maintenance and operations manuals, produced by the aircraft manufacturers and air force or airline operators. Both types of document are safety-critical, but especially the operations manual abnormal and emergency checklists, which provide information on how to cope with non-normal situations.

Oral communication in English

Radiotelephony communication takes place mainly between pilots and air traffic controllers, with standard phraseology at the core, and operational exchanges in plain English when phraseology is inadequate. Such radiotelephonic communication is used to direct, inform, question, request, and respond, where the air traffic controller directs and controls pilots. The focus of the communication is aircraft takeoff and landing, flight navigation, and so on, and the channel used is spoken, via radiotelephony.

Aviation English terms and procedures – useful books

For those servicemen and servicewomen who feel they need to speak and understand the aviation English or need a refresher or wish to upgrade their English skills the following publications,  books and websites might be useful:

  • Being an aviation professional (especially pilot or air traffic controller) you can’t miss ICAO Annex10 – AeronauticalTelecommunications, Volume II – CommunicationProcedures or ICAO Doc 9432 – Manual of Radiotelephony – these are official regulations you have to adhere to.
  • English for Aircraft by Philip Shawcross – his two books make up undoubtedly the cleverest way of teaching technical aviation English. His software “Docwise” is a must for the engineers and mechanics desiring to be trained as far as technical English and aeronautics are concerned. Visit “Bwise2” (www.bwise2.co.uk), his website dedicated to aviation English language training for mechanics and pilots. Bwise2 can provide everything you need to learn technical English within the scope of aeronautics.
  • Airspeak by Fiona A. Robertson – gives pilots and ATCs systematic practice in the use of standard ICAO phraseology for safe radiotelephony communications. Includes approx. 6 hours of authentic and simulated recordings and exercises to develop operational fluency in routine and non-routine situations. Helps prepare for ICAO Level 4 in English.
  • Macmillan’s set of Aviation English (Teacher’s Book) by John Kennedy, Aviation English (Student’s Book) and Check Your Aviation English by Henry Emery and Andy Roberts  – a self-study or classroom books and audio packages focusing on the topics and language structures required by pilots and air traffic controllers preparing to gain ICAO Level 4 language requirements.
  • Aviation English by Krzysztof Woliński – published as an academic script by Polish Air Force Academy at Deblin. It covers the main branches and principles of aviation and, what’s particularly important for military personnel, includes chapter about electronic warfare and weapons. Rather hard to find as a hardcopy but digital publication is accessible on computer in the reading-rooms of the National Library.
  • English for Aviation by Sue Ellis and Terence Gerighty – is another position focused on radiocommunication phraseology and organised in the sequence of flight (pre-flight, ground movements, departure, cruising, en route events, contact and approach, landing, and end-of-flight ground movements). Book not just for pilots/ATCs as anyone working in aviation will find it useful.
  • Aviation Dictionary by Jeppesen – it is the most comprehensive dictionary of aviation available. It contains over 10,000 technical definitions, acronyms and codes.
  • Dictionary of Aviation by David Crocker – it contains over 5,000 terms used by air traffic controllers, pilots, cabin crew, maintenance crews, ground staff and other airline or air force personnel.
  • http://www.aviationdictionary.org/ – great collection of aviation dictionariesAviation terms, phrases, airport codes and names, technical and mechanical data on aircrafts and much more.
  • If you think you are proficient enough, check www.liveatc.net – an audio streaming site that provides a live feed of air traffic control communications around the world. Just type the ICAO airport designator (e.g. EPWA for Warsaw Chopin Airport) and choose between different ATC facilities to listen to.