Upcoming Conference to Focus on Aviation Communication and Safety

“Aviation is a global enterprise and does not happen in a bubble immune from cultural differences, miscommunication and the challenges created by inadequate aviation English skills.”  Embry-Riddle Assistant Professor Elizabeth Mathews

The international conference, “Building on the International Civil Aviation Organization’s Language Proficiency Requirements – Communications as a Human Factor” is hosted by Embry-Riddle on May 9-11. To learn more about the conference, go to

The International Civil Aviation English Association (ICAEA) conference at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach Campus will look into the effects of language and culture on communication as a human factor; the language needs of the wider aviation profession; incorporating communication strategies into best practices for training and testing and considerations for future policy developments in language and communication.

New perspectives on aviation English training and testing will be discussed in the conference, which will include plenary presentations, Q & A panels, interactive panel presentations, practical workshops, informal poster sessions, and networking and social opportunities.

Twenty-four presenters and speakers are coming from throughout the U.S. and other countries, such as Austria, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Kenya, Slovenia and West Africa.

Participating organizations include airlines, manufacturers, civil aviation authorities, air navigation service providers, and academic institutions such as Embry-Riddle, Georgia State University and others.

“Aviation is a global enterprise and does not happen in a bubble immune from cultural differences, miscommunication and the challenges created by inadequate aviation English skills,” said Elizabeth Mathews, Embry-Riddle assistant professor of Aerospace and Occupational Safety, who is on the board of the ICAEA. “The conference will bring people together to discuss these topics, including how to improve training, the standardization of aviation English testing, and the investigation of language factors and more.”

The keynote speaker, Capt. Daniel Maurino, a well-known and long-serving International Civil Aviation Organization’s human factors and safety specialist, will open the first day of the conference with his presentation on “The Role of Communication in Human Factors.”

Maurino is an international leading authority on flight safety, human factors and safety management systems. In his current role, he has advised the Civil Aviation Authority of Argentina on a five-year project leading to the implementation of State Safety Programme of Argentina and is presently advising the Aircraft Accident Investigation Board of Argentina on the transition to a multimodal safety investigation agency.  Maurino, who flew for Aerolíneas Argentinas for 17 years, is also an advisor to the Spanish Civil Aviation Authority and is a safety management instructor for Airports Council International and the International Air Transport Association.

After more than 40 years of aviation human factors as a discipline, Mathews said understanding language as a human factor lags behind industry’s understanding of other human performance issues. She will present “A Linguistic Review of Aviation Accidents,” at the conference.

“With an increasingly multicultural industry, it is more important than ever to understand and address language and communication factors appropriately,” said Mathews, who is also a former linguistic consultant for the ICAO. “The International Civil Aviation Organization’s Language Requirements address pilot-controller radiotelephony communications, but do not address the English language communication needs when English is the common language of two non-native English speakers sharing the same cockpit, or the English language needed for maintenance safety and for flight training.”

Mathews is part of a team at Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach and Worldwide Campuses reviewing databases of aircraft accidents to determine the role communication factors may have played.

The research is just one part of Embry-Riddle’s overall Language as a Human Factor in Aviation Safety (LHUFT) Initiative to heighten awareness, improve aviation safety and enhance future investigations.

The initiative and LHUFT Center involves partnerships with Georgia State University and Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul. The work includes joint research projects; developing curriculum for aviation English; advocating for best practices in aviation language training, teacher training and testing programs, which are currently unregulated; and becoming an industry leader for language in aviation research and expertise.

Some other topics at the conference include “Exploring Intercultural Factors in International Pilot-Air Traffic Controller Communications”; “Recognizing Misunderstandings: Developing Communication Strategies for Non-Native English Speaking Personnel,” “Notes from the Field: Making the Case for Enhanced English Language Standards for Pilots” and “English in the Aviation Maintenance Industry - The Impact on Safety and an Exploration of the Need for Standards.”

Other Embry-Riddle speakers include Jennifer Roberts, Aviation English Specialist for Embry-Riddle’s Worldwide Campus in the College of Aeronautics, who will conduct a workshop on “Training to Develop Communicative Competence” and Aline Pacheco, recent visiting research scholar at Embry-Riddle, who will discuss “Inter-Cultural Issues in Air Ground Communication: A Case Study – Triggers for Miscommunication.” Aviation language and safety consultant, Capt. Enrique “Rick” Valdes, retired from United Airlines, who is working with Embry-Riddle on reviewing databases of aircraft accidents, will also have a panel presentation. 

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Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world’s largest, fully accredited university specializing in aviation and aerospace, is a nonprofit, independent institution offering more than 80 baccalaureate, master’s and Ph.D. degree programs in its colleges of Arts & Sciences, Aviation, Business, Engineering and Security & Intelligence. Embry-Riddle educates students at residential campuses in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Prescott, Ariz., through the Worldwide Campus with more than 125 locations in the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and through online programs. The university is a major research center, seeking solutions to real-world problems in partnership with the aerospace industry, other universities and government agencies. For more information, visit, follow us on Twitter (@EmbryRiddle) and, and find expert videos at