The International Civil Aviation Organization has concluded that ambiguous or confusing ATC phraseology “is a frequent contributor to aircraft accidents and incidents.” In the recently released results of a phraseology study that it conducted, ICAO maintains that “a miscommunication could potentially lead to a dangerous situation without any of the involved stakeholders being aware,” especially in regions where English is not the native language. The study gathered information from 2,070 pilots and 568 controllers all over the globe. Fifty-four percent of respondents reported there were specific issues created by non-standard phraseology they identified as threats such as number and word confusions such as “two” and “to,” or “Turn to heading zero four zero” rather than “turn heading zero four zero.” Forty-four percent of pilots said they experience nonstandard phraseology at least once per flight. Thirty-eight percent said once in every 10 flights and 12 percent once per 100 flights. Six percent reported no experiences with non-standard phraseology. Of 526 pilots who reported operating primarily in North America, 27 percent reported cases of non-standard phraseology, more than any other region. Of 435 European-based pilots, 22 percent reported that region as where the most problems with phraseology occurred. Two hundred and one Asia-Pacific-based pilots reported occurrences in that region only 10 percent of the time. Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport was most often identified as a location where the threat of confusion existed, but in almost all cases it was because of the use of both English and a local language in pilot communication and not specifically for non-standard phraseology.
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