Fri, Dec 12, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Survey finds communication problems between pilots and air traffic controllers


Nearly two-thirds of air traffic controllers have difficulty communicating with foreign pilots with heavy accents, a survey released by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications showed yesterday.

The ministry conducted the survey between April and July, covering 2,003 pilots from six Taiwanese carriers — China Airlines, EVA Air, Mandarin Airlines, TransAsia Airways, UNI Airways Corp and Daily Air Corp — and 261 air traffic controllers from the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA). Responses were obtained from 38.2 percent of the pilots and 93.5 percent of the air traffic controllers.

The survey showed that 74.6 percent of the air traffic controllers said they had difficulty communicating with some foreign pilots.

The main reasons cited were the level of English proficiency of the air traffic controllers and the accents of foreign pilots from non-English speaking countries.

The survey also showed that 23.4 percent of the air traffic controllers did not know how an aircraft functions, leading the ministry to suggest increased training to enhance flight safety and air traffic control efficiency.

Contrary to the perception that pilots and air traffic controllers earn high pay, 60 percent of the pilots polled said they were “not satisfied” with their salaries, while 82.5 percent of the air traffic controllers said their pay was unsatisfactory.

A majority of the air traffic controllers, or 77.2 percent, also complained about understaffing, adding that overtime work endangered flight safety. They suggested that the CAA pay attention to the problem of an inadequate number of air traffic controllers.

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