Excuse me stewardess, I speak jive

Or, in this case, maybe it should be “Excuse me pilot, I speak English.” 

There’s a report out of England that a Lot Polish Airways pilot spoke such poor English that the controllers at Heathrow had trouble communicating with him, resulting in the plane meandering around the airspace above England and coming dangerously close to another aircraft that had to be diverted to avoid it. 

And, despite the fact that English is the official language of aviation globally, Poland has applied to ICAO for a further extension to allow their existing pilots to keep flying.  Lot also denies the incident.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time listening to the tower radio communications around major international airports, and the accents are often fun to listen to, but I can see how there is the chance of issues over time.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. I would like to argue the case for Esperanto as the international language of air traffic control.
    Esperanto is a planned language which belongs to no one country or group of states. Take a look at http://www.esperanto.net

    Esperanto works! I’ve used it in speech and writing in a dozen countries over recent years. I’m sure it is suitable for this specific purpose.

  2. I’m not so sure that making the 90%+ of flight controllers and pilots who already speak English pretty well learn a new language is necessarily the correct solution, but it certainly is an interesting option…

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