Ask the pilot: Do the pilots always speak English on air?
Career: Joined SAS in 2014. Has flown CRJ900s and 737NGs. Started flying the Airbus A320 in 2016. A former track athlete and a 400m indoor Nordic Record Holder.
Home base: CPH
Flies: Airbus 319/320/321
Flight hours: 4,200
Do pilots and air traffic controllers always speak English, or do you speak Danish when flying in Denmark, for example?
The use of English and standard aviation phraseology has been identified as an important contributor to increased flight safety. It allows everyone listening on the frequency to understand and hence create better situational awareness (where other aircraft are, whether there are thunderstorms or turbulence in the area, and so on).
Ideally, we should always speak English for these reasons, and at SAS we do so (excluding the initial greeting, such as “Rhein Radar, Guten Tag”). That said, a pilot’s license includes language proficiency – normally the languages are English plus your local language. My experience is that the use of local language ranges from very rare to quite common, depending on the country you’re operating in.
First Officer Jimisola Laursen
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Published: February 16, 2018
Last edited: February 23, 2018