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aviation

AWPA Dinner

As a writer and communications consultant, I spend much of my working time at a computer and it’s not too glamorous, so it is nice occasionally to do something more interesting in the name of work!

Last night is a perfect example as I went to a function with a client (as their Communications Manager).

The Australian Women Pilots Association (AWPA) held their annual conference in Bendigo this year, so I went to their gala dinner and had a great night. In particular, it was great to see a male dominated industry have a strong female element supporting each other and encouraging young women to enter aviation.

CHinese dragon welcome in Bendigo

Some of the highlights of the night were:

  • a welcome from two Chinese dragons
  • hearing an Air force Captain {I wish I had written down his name at the time!} announce that the air force expects to have 25% female members by the mid 2020s, with 25% of applicants in the last year or so being female
  • sitting at the same table as the granddaughter of Nancy Bird-Walton, and hearing so much admiration for her and her peers
  • meeting various women with fascinating stories about how they (and others) got into aviation and how they have interacted with other pilots (such as one couple having may pilots visit them in bad weather as they had a runway on their country property)

I would love the opportunity to interview many of those women and write their stories. As a collection, I think it would be interesting, inspiring and a historical reference and record.

Do you know any female aviators? Or been inspired by any of their stories?

mind your language and fly!

‘Communication is a causal factor in approximately 75 per cent of aviation accidents/incidents’ Russell Eastaway, an Air traffic Control training specialist in Melbourne.

I found that scary – every time we fly, we are relying a lot on the communications skills of pilots and ATCs (air traffic controllers).

It is reassuring in that we can teach communications to the relevant people but an article in Flight Safety Australia explains the bigger issue is probably adjusting their environment to improve aviation communications.

fly has multiple emanings

High reliability communication needed

Of the various errors that can occur in aviation conversations, three specifically relate to English (officially the language used in aviation).

Namely, ambiguity, transposition and phonetic similarity can cause major problems.

Did you know there an estimated 100,000 homonyms in English? Homonyms are words or phrases that sound alike but have very different meanings, such as there/their/they’re and your/you’re/yore.

100,000 opportunities to give a meaning you didn’t intend.

In business writing, we can look unprofessional or ignorant to use the wrong word. In aviation, we can say the wrong word and result in a major crash.

Although the consequences may not be as dire when writing, just an awareness of how easy it can be to make mistakes in English can remind us to proof read and get help with our communications. And take the time to learn how to spell various homonyms.

People working in aviation are given training in English and  former Emirates head of human factors, Surendra Ratwatte, adds that such training should be given to native-English speakers as well. English speakers need to avoid slang and vernacular use of words to communicate clearly, especially with people less familiar with English and local expressions.

Again, business writers can learn from this by avoiding terms and phrases that may not be recognised by the entire audience.

The point is not the words or language used but that the message is understood as intended.

Do you think your writing could be good enough for people to risk their life on the message getting across clearly?