An Analysis of Approach Control/Pilot Voice Communications
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An Analysis of Approach Control/Pilot Voice Communications

Filetype[PDF-1.47 MB]

  • English

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    • Abstract:
      This report consists of an analysis of air traffic control and pilot voice communications that occurred at 3 terminal air traffic control facilities (TRACONs). Each transmission was parsed into communication elements. Each communication element was assigned to a speech act category (e.g., address, instruction, request, advisory) and aviation topic (e.g., heading, altitude, speed, readback) and evaluated using the aviation topic-speech act taxonomy (ATSAT, Prinzo, et al., 1995). A total of 12,200 communication elements in 4,500 transmissions make up the database. Communication elements appeared most frequently in the address and instruction speech act categories. Of the 2,500 controller communication elements, 40% contained at least 1 communication error. The number and types of communication errors (message content and delivery technique) located within each speech act category were determined and separate communication error analyses are reported for pilots and controllers by TRACON facility. Of the 5,900 pilot communication elements, 59% contained at least 1 communication error. More than 50% of controllers' and pilots' communication errors occurred in the instruction speech act category. Generally, controllers omitted key words that pertained to radio frequency, airspeed, or approach/departure instructions. Pilots only partially read back instructions involving heading, radio frequency, and airspeed aviation topics and grouped the numbers in a radio frequency, airspeed, or heading. Pilots' and controllers' communications became more conversational and verbose when their transmissions included advisory or request speech acts. Omitting and grouping numbers in transmissions may be strategies used to minimize time on frequency. Ironically, these strategies may create the problems that pilots and controllers are tying to prevent. Frequency congestion may occur from additional transmissions that are made to resolve ambiguities or repair misunderstandings due to incomplete transmissions.
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