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ATC Active Listening
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Active Listening in Air Traffic Control
Some Air Navigation Service Providers have been investigating the use of explicit training for listening skills and habits - active listening - as one means of mitigating the air-ground and ground-ground communications safety risks.
Some active listening training tips are provided below.
Air Ground Communications Active Listening Tips
- When you listen - then LISTEN. Do not listen in parallel with performing concurrent tasks.
- Do not accept phone calls in the middle of a task that you can not interrupt.
- Always use standard phraseology when passing a clearance. In this way, you reduce the chance of the clearance being misunderstood.
- If in doubt, there is no doubt - CHECK.
- Listen carefully to read-back and correct any error. When error is detected, insist on a further read-back. Although a routine activity, this activity should not be shared with other tasks, particularly interruptions such as other R/T or phone calls.
- If, even after a correct read-back, you suspect that a flight has not properly understood a clearance, extra vigilance may prevent a misunderstanding developing into a dangerous situation. Concentrate on this aircraft before doing other tasks.
- Do not accept an incomplete read-back. Do query unclear or incomplete transmissions, especially if you suspect they may have been blocked. This will also indicate to the pilot or other party that they have not been clear and may have an error in their perception.
- Use reflective habits for processing information. One good habit it to ‘Write what you say As You Speak and Read what you hear As You Listen’ - WAYSRAYL. Consult the strips when receiving and annotate the strips during transmission.
- Record the clearance given.
- Use headsets.
- Use intercom/telephone for coordination.
- Listen before you speak - pause before transmission.
- Know your expectations - try to tell yourself when you communicate what you expect. This will both increase your performance and reduce the chance of expectation bias.
- "Human Performance in Air Traffic Management Safety -A White Paper": EUROCONTROL/FAA Action Plan 15 Safety, September 2010.
Flight Safety Foundation ALAR Briefing Notes