Aviation Safety: An Initial Exploration of the Feasibility of Using Language Engineering Technologies for Reducing Pilot-Air Traffic Control Miscommunications
Authors: Bettina Bajaj a, Arnab Majumdar b
Abstract: This paper describes some initial investigations into the possibilities of using state-of-the-art language engineering technologies to minimise miscommunications between pilots and controllers. Despite considerable efforts to remedy this situation by providing solutions that focus almost exclusively on new proposals for making air traffic control (ATC) messages clearer and easier to understand and on better ATC communication training strategies, communication issues persist. In order to demonstrate this, we discuss an aircraft accident and incident in which communication problems between pilots and ATC have been identified as contributory factors. The types of miscommunication are described in their situational and operational contexts. It is then argued that employing automatic speech recognition (ASR), machine translation (MT) and terminology extraction (TE) technologies would have the potential to reduce such miscommunications and hence might have contributed to preventing the accident and incident. This paper presents a snapshot of our initial work as well as thoughts on its future development, including a description of how an ASR-MT-TE communication system as an addition to voice and data link communications might be designed and implemented into flight decks and ATC workstations and how this system may impact on mental workload, situation awareness, and attention allocation of pilots and controllers.
Keywords: Attention Allocation, ATC Miscommunications, ATC Phraseology, Automatic Speech Recognition, Machine Translation, Mental Workload, Situation Awareness, Terminology, Terminology Extraction
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