Dominique Estival – Aviation Communication



Since 2009, I have been combining linguistics and aviation in a research project on and potential communication problems in the aviation environment. The goal is to improve aviation safety by improving communication and I look at language technologies for solutions. A Research Grant from the MARCS Institute (2012-2013) allowed me and my colleague Brett Molesworth from UNSW to conduct experiments in a flight simulator with pilots from the Sydney Basin and we have since continued our research using LiveATC data.

See below for a list of publications and presentations.


The ‘Communication’ module in the 2019 Safety behaviours for pilots training kit published by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) contains videos of an interview where I discuss some of the issues and what pilots can do to prevent miscommunication.The research was also featured in articles in:

·         HowStuffWorks (2018)

·         The Conversation (2017)

·         Flight Safety Australia (Issue 88, 2012, pp.8-15); Flight Safety Australia (Jan. 2019); Flight Safety Australia (Apr. 2019); Flight Safety Australia (Issue 135, 2021).



In collaboration with Candace Farris from Montreal, we published the book Aviation English: A lingua franca for pilots and air traffic controllers (2016), now available in paperback.



 Book launch at Western Sydney University, with Bill Whitworth



In 2018, I was approved by CASA as an Aviation English Assessor, for General English Language Proficiency (GELP) and for ICAO Level 6.




·         Dominique Estival, Stuart Fitzpatrick, Brett Molesworth (in press). ‘Politeness markers in aviation communication’. Eric Friginal, Jennifer Robert, Malila Prado, eds. Aviation English Worldwide: Applications for Assessment and Pedagogy. Bloomsbury.

·         Dominique Estival and Alastair Pennycook (2024). ‘Why aviation English is not ELF’. Kumiko Murata, ed. ELF and Applied Linguistics. Routledge. pp.172-188.

·         Dominique Estival, Malila Prado, Noriko Ishihara (2023). ‘Not Using Standard Phraseology: Misunderstandings and Delays’. Applied Linguistics Papers 27/2: 2023, 4–28.

·         Asharie Dissanayaka, Brett Molesworth, Dominique Estival (2023). ‘Miscommunication in Commercial Aviation: The Role of Accent, Speech Rate, Information Density, and Politeness Markers’. The International Journal of Aerospace Psychology, 33: 79-97.

·         Alexander Thorpe, Dominique Estival, Brett R. C. Molesworth, Ami Eidels (2022). ‘Pilot errors: Communication comes last’. Safety Science, 149, 105686. (pdf).

·         Dominique Estival & Brett Molesworth (2020). ‘Errors in air-ground pilot communication: an experimental study’. The ESPecialist, Special issue on Aviation English. Vol. 41, No.3. (pdf).

·         Qiong Wu, Brett R.C. Molesworth, Dominique Estival (2019). ‘An investigation into the factors that affect miscommunication between pilots and air traffic controllers in commercial aviation’. The International Journal of Aerospace Psychology. p. 53-63.

·         Dominique Estival. (2018). ‘What Should We Teach Native English Speakers?’. Proceedings of the International Civil Aviation English Association Conference. Pp 37-46. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), Daytona Beach, Florida, USA.

·         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. (pdf)

·         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. (pdf)

·         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. (pdf)

·         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 October 2023, I gave a talk entitled ‘To be polite or not to be polite: The case of aviation communication’ at the Pragmatics Seminars Series, University of Padua.

·        In March 2023, I gave a talk entitled ‘Politeness markers in aviation communication’ at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Department of English and Communication and Research Centre for Professional Communication in English. ( 

·        In May 2019, I gave a talk titled ‘Aviation English Training for Native English Speakers: Challenges and Suggestions’, at the International Civil Aviation English Association (ICAEA) conference. Tokyo, Japan.

·        In May 2018, I ran 2 workshops on the topic ‘What should we teach Native English Speakers?’ at the International Civil Aviation English Association (ICAEA) Conference, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), Daytona Beach, Florida, USA. The answers from the participants are presented in the paper published in the proceedings (

·        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.


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