Aviation Communication

Since 2009 I have been combining linguistics and aviation in a research project in which I investigate communication and potential communication problems in the aviation environment. The ultimate goal is to improve aviation safety by improving communication and to look at language technologies for solutions.


In 2012, I was awarded a Research Grant by the MARCS Institute for the project ‘Aviation Communication: A study of communication problems for EL2 pilots in the Australian Aviation Environment’, which allowed me and my colleague Brett Molesworth from UNSW to conduct experiments in a flight simulator. Together with Candace Farris, we recently published the book Aviation English: A lingua franca for pilots and air traffic controllers, which will soon come out in paperback.


See also HowStuffWorks (2018);The Conversation (2017); Flight Safety Australia (2012, pp.10-17).


In February 2018, I was granted approval by CASA (Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority) to conduct assessment of General English Proficiency and Aviation English Level 6 Proficiency.




·         Dominique Estival, Candace Farris and Brett R.C. Molesworth. (2016) Aviation English: A Lingua Franca for Pilots and Air Traffic Controllers. Series: Routledge Research in English for Specific Purposes. Brian Paltridge and Sue Starfield (Eds.)


·         Brett Molesworth and Dominique Estival. (2015). “Miscommunication in general aviation: The influence of external factors on communication errors”. Safety Science, 73, pp.73–79.

·         Raymond, Jang, Brett R. C. Molesworth, Marion Burgess and Dominique Estival. (2014). “Improving Communication in General Aviation through the use of Noise Cancelling Headphones”. Safety Science, 62 (2014) pp. 499-504.

·         D. Estival & B. Molesworth (2012). "Radio Miscommunication: EL2 Pilots in the Australian General Aviation environment”. Linguistics and the Human Sciences. Vol. 5.3, pp.351–78. (pdf).

·         D. Estival & B. Molesworth (2010). Improving radio communication in General Aviation: a preliminary investigation”. Proceedings of the 9th International Symposium of the Australian Aviation Psychology Association. (paper)

·         D. Estival & B. Molesworth (2009). “A study of EL2 pilots radio communication in the General Aviation environment”. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. Special issue on Aviation English, vol.32-3. (pdf)




·         In June 2018, I was invited to the International Civil Aviation English Association Conference and ran 2 workshops on the topic “What should we teach Native English Speakers?” The answers I collated will form the basis for further research and publications.

·         In July 2013, I was invited to the Workshop on Risks and Language for Aeronautics and Space (Linguistique et Traitement Automatique de la Langue pour l'Aéronautique et l'Espace : Dimensions langagières du risque), in Toulouse, organised by the CNRS and Université Toulouse 2 Le Mirail. The title of my presentation was « Anglais seconde langue : risques pour l’aviation générale ? ».


·         In March 2012, I presented an update of our work at the colloquium on “Language Tests And Language Policy: The Case Of Aviation English”, organised by Tim McNamara, at the Annual Meeting of American Association of Applied Linguistics (AAAL) in Boston.


·         In October 2010, I was an invited speaker at the Free Linguistics Conference in Sydney and gave a first overview of the project.