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Aviation and clear communication

The aviation industry is marking a safe year during 2017 for airline passengers. There were no fatalities reported on commercial jet aircraft, and no passenger jets crashed anywhere in the world. This fun activity explores the idea of communicating clearly and safely to avoid emergencies.

Suggested age range: 11–16

Curriculum links: PSHE

A pilot flying a plane© Info

Display the photograph and ask the group why aeroplanes have been in the news recently, prompting if necessary.

Ask learners what they think might be important for people to be able work safely in aviation. If they haven’t mentioned it already, introduce the idea of “clear communication”.

In the group, one person plays the pilot and is blindfolded. Their task is to walk from one side of the classroom to the other. The group take it in turns to give instructions in the style of an air traffic controller, with the pilot responding to confirm the instructions.

During this activity, learners should practise the following:

  • “Yes” and “no” can be easily misheard, especially over a poor phone or radio line. The aviation industry uses “affirmative” and “negative” instead.
  • For clarity, speaking at 100 words a minute is recommended (this is approximately 16 words in 10 seconds).
  • Aviation English concentrates heavily on “readbacks”. That means repeating instructions so it’s clear that you have heard.


This resource was written by P J White of Alt62 and published in January 2018.


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