Global aviation is here to stay, however when you have pilots from all over the world trying to communicate with each other confusion often occurs.
Sometimes it's just amusing, like a 2006 recording of exchanges between an Air China pilot and an air traffic controller at Kennedy Airport in New York. The controller becomes increasingly exasperated by the pilot's terrible word English pronunciations, to the point where you can almost hear the steam coming out of his ears. That recording on You Tube as Air China 981, is a favorite among air traffic controllers and pilots.
It's the most amazing example of the problem, because it's simply very funny and no one got hurt through the obvious miscommunication. On the other hand, the list of aviation catastrophes around the world that were caused primarily by language misunderstandings between air and ground is long and very tragic.
In 1977, for example, two Boing 747's collided on a runway at Tenerife, in the Canary Islands. The disaster, in which 583 people died occurred in dense fog. Complicating the situation were misunderstandings of orders and acknowledgments between the aircraft on the runway and the air traffic controllers. After that incident, International aviation authorities later drafted more strict requirements for the use of standard, clear common English prases in aviation operations.
As global aviation continues to grow, concerns are rising about English language proficiency among foreign pilots and air traffic controllers. The Civial Aviation Organization, an agency of the United Nations that promotes international air travel safety and development, issued new recommendations to improve English language training, in response to fatal accidents in which the lack of proficiency in English was identified as a contributing factor.
It is obvious that accent modification lessons for pilots and airtraffic controllers be mandated so that lives can be saved in the future. Pilots and airtraffic controllers often work long hours, however with the use of web cameras and the internet, it would be easy to set up an online learning academy emphasizing pronunciation, stress, rhythm, and intonation.