Reading this question: How often does a pilot ask ATC for a repeat?

Most modern airliners' cockpits have plenty of digital displays.

Why is communication between ATC and pilots not also typed/written and displayed on cockpit screens, as a mutual backup with oral communication, so that slight misunderstandings and asking for oral repeat due to any cause can be reduced?

Since aeronautic communications are very specific and precise, some stenographic input device could be implemented too. Written communication could take over when taxiing or during ground operations, for instance.

Oral radio communication being therefore less saturated and more dedicated to emergencies and heavy misunderstandings?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Have you ever watched live closed caption on TV? There's hilarious spelling mistakes. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    May 20, 2022 at 7:53

3 Answers 3


Per the ymb1’s answer to your linked question, repeats comprise a mere 1% (1/3 of 3%) of all transmissions. That’s pretty darned low when you consider all the other things that both sides are doing while talking on the radio, plus the poor sound quality of the radios themselves and issues with accents.

Also, those other things (like flying a plane!) are generally occupying both our eyes and our hands, whereas our ears and mouth are available to talk. The last thing I want to do when hand-flying an approach in IMC is take my eyes off the instruments to read a message from ATC, or worse, take my hands off the controls too to type a response!

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ Or take your eyes off the runway on a bumpy approach to read a message... $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    May 20, 2022 at 0:25
  • 16
    $\begingroup$ @qqjkztd "the other pilot" is monitoring what the pilot flying is doing. He/she is just as preoccupied with that as the one with hands on controls. Having to constantly read and type messages would be a major distraction and a safety issue. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    May 20, 2022 at 11:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan Added. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    May 20, 2022 at 12:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yes. You are deliberately missing my point. Whe PNF is not reading checklists, the task is to monitor. To divert attention to reading/typing messages will be, well a distraction. It is also about as easy to misread a message as it is to hear it wrong. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    May 20, 2022 at 17:43
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @qqjkztd There have been plenty of accidents where pilot monitoring was doing something other than monitoring the procedures of the pilot flying (eg. was busy calculating fuel requirements etc.). Note that it is not wrong for the co-pilot to do other things like that but there has been accidents caused by pilot monitoring not catching a mistake because he was busy doing other things. $\endgroup$
    – slebetman
    May 21, 2022 at 2:37

Contrary to what's being said, it's been in use since around 1998 and it's very useful.
Instead of 20–45 minutes of congestion and unclear comms to transmit one oceanic position report[boeing.com; Spring 1998 issue of AERO], it's now done digitally. Same goes for departure clearances in many busy airports, Data Link ATIS (D-ATIS), oceanic clearances (to enter oceanic airspace), and lately the rolling out of data link in the en route environment in Europe[europa.eu] and USA[faa.gov], just to name a few useful and already in use applications. And even the new airliners (as asked) are ready to deploy Data Link Taxi (image below).

Also check ICAO GOLD document: Global Operational Data Link Document (PDF; icao.int) and my answer to What are the differences between ACARS and CPDLC? for a list of "ATC" data link systems and applications. Also see the tags and .

Aforementioned D-TAXI; Airbus display, also coming to Boeing
Credit: SESAR-JU

For the history, see: How can shifting to TCP/IP make current aviation systems more delay-tolerant?

Regarding the simultaneous voice and text, it's not like that; where both are available and ATC data link is established, voice is always tuned in as back up and for situational awareness.


In fact, there are many cases wherein communications are, in fact, text, or other, richer forms of information transfer.

For all of the reasons that you note, these systems are being further pursued/developed, especially for busy airports.

Generally speaking, however, data transfers are not free from error or congestion issues, either and a pilot that requires verbal instruction is possibly too busy to keep tabs on another screen just in case something changes - whereas a change from 'silence' to 'being addressed' is far above the human brain's sensitivity thresholds.

Solvable issues, and likely to develop further with time, but the issue you identify is a real one and has people working it.


You must log in to answer this question.