Communication in Aviation (Documentation management)

Many documentation must be used on the flight deck and under a variety of operating conditions, they're the most important written communications in aviation, yet pilots have complained about the excessive documentation required in their job, and this mass of paper information is a big problem for the flight crew and for the flight operations and documentation departments. It is hard to keep all the data current and ensure that users of the data have the latest revision. Documentation management is aimed for better design and presentation of these documents on flight, to reduce workload and increase efficiency.

Company written communications and operational documentation

A basic requirement for any flight operations management is to be able to communicate effectively with its pilots. Flight manuals, equipment manuals, checklists, and operational bulletins are all important communication media. They should be useful documents that reflect the character and operating philosophy of the airline and reflect the airline's operational procedures and its training. (Orlady, 19991)

Manuals and flight operations bulletins

Manuals furnish a reasonably permanent guide to the way that flight operations departments want their flight operations conducted and the ways they want specific equipment operated. Flight operations bulletins, on the other hand, are used for a specific purpose or condition. However it has the same readability requirements of manuals, both of them should be carefully written with high standards of technical writing and with appropriate illustrations. (Orlady, 19991)

A sample page of flight manual
(Picture embedded from Flight Sim on 23 September 2009)

To see an example of the flight operations bulletin, please click here Air Canada Flight Operations Bulletin

Flight plans

Flight planners who perform all the necessary data gathering and analyses necessary to complete a flight plan, and then give to the pilots during a flight briefing before the pilot begins the aircraft preflight check. They generally include basic information such as departure and arrival points, estimated time on route, alternate airports in case of bad weather, type of flight, pilot's name and number of people on board. (NASA, 20092)

Most airline flight plans, especially for larger commercial airlines, are generated by computers, the computer looks at the planned time to destination and compares the alternatives available given the performance of the airplane and the projected payload. These computed flight plans were prepared by dispatchers, but require signatures of the captain and the appropriate dispatcher to indicate their approval of the computer plan. (Orlady, 19991)

Standard FAA Flight Plan
(Picture embedded from Wikipedia on 23 September 2009)


Basic checklists

Checklists are considered to be the foundation for the standardization of operating procedures and a key to increased operational safety. They are used for two different purposes. One is to set up or configure a system or even the whole airplane so that it is ready for operation, or a part of the operation such as take off or landing. The second purpose is to ensure that an engine or a system's normal or non-normal operations will be handled properly and to verify that these procedures have been performed correctly. (Orlady, 19991)

Display of checklists

Paper checklists are held in the hand or clipped to the cockpit yokes.

(Video embedded from YouTube on 23 September 2009)

Electronic checklist are shown on a CRT or flat panel in front of the pilots. They usually indicate that a given item has been competed and display the next item to be acted upon.(Orlady, 19991)
(Picture embedded from Feel There on 23 September 2009)

Maps, Charts, and Approach Plates

The maps, charts, and apporach plates used in aviation are highly specialised documents that are required to provide a large load of information in an limited space.


Maps are used primarily by pilots using visual flight rules, by helicopter pilots and other pilots flying relatively low level flights and using geographical entities for navigation. Maps used in aviation are the regional and sectional maps published by FAA. (Orlady, 19991)
(Picture embedded from Squidoo on 23 September 2009)


Aviation charts are unique, they are desinged for pilots to be able to determine their position, altitude, best route to a destination, and navigation aids along the way, and other useful information such as radio frequencies and airspace boundaries. (Wikipedia, 20093)
(Picture embedded from Wikipedia on 23 September 2009)

Approach plates

Apporach plates involve the most critical phase of flight. They are used routinely and contains a great deal of data that are frequently changing, therefore, they're published with expire dates and updated on a frequent basis. All approach plates have six general classes of information:

  1. name, location, identification and frequency of the appropriate radio facility or facilities, a graphic depiction of minimum safe altitudes by sector;
  2. radio frequency for the facility and the voice frequencies of approach control, tower, and ground control;
  3. a plan view of the immediate area which includes the airport and the obstructions in the area;
  4. a profile view of the instrument approach and the missed approach;
  5. the specific approach diagram;
  6. the last class of information is on the back of the approach plate and is a diagram of the airport giving airport elevations, runway numbers and dimensions, taxiway identifications, airport area obstructions, and other relevant airport detail.

(Orlady, 19991)

1. ORLADY, H.& ORLADY, L. (1999). Human Factors in Multi-Crew Flight Operations. Brookfield: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
2. National Aeronautics and Space Administration. (2009). Communication. Retrieved from on 23 September, 2009.
3. Wikipedia. (2009). Aeronautical Chart. Retrieved from on 23 September 2009.

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