Almost all large airports in the U.S. use the ATIS voice heard in this video, and have been for at least the past 20 years. The voice itself is not nearly as "crisp" and clear as most other large international airports today. Here are examples from Rio de Janeiro and Amsterdam's international airports.

Interestingly, from the research I have done, the voice used in the U.S. comes from a text-to-speech technology called DECtalk launched way back in 1984. The voice used in the ATIS is called "Huge Harry." In other words, this stuff is old technology. Why isn't a more modern voice used?

  • $\begingroup$ Hey better a robot voice than a human one. Many years ago I heard a NWS hurricane warning recording in a southeast Texas so thick I literally could not understand more than a few words of what was being said. PS about 20 years ago NWS had some robots they had trained to speed in a New England / Cape Cod type accent-- that was supremely annoying as well! $\endgroup$ Oct 11, 2022 at 15:15
  • $\begingroup$ But- re the actual question -- how could the answer be anything other than "they just haven't gotten around to improving or upgrading it yet?" $\endgroup$ Oct 11, 2022 at 15:18
  • $\begingroup$ ("speed" = "speak") $\endgroup$ Oct 11, 2022 at 15:22
  • $\begingroup$ I can understand it may be complicated to change, but better voice synthesizers for ATIS purposes do exist and have for many years. $\endgroup$ Oct 11, 2022 at 15:41

2 Answers 2


Probably for the same reason that many aircraft use 8086 and 80186 CPUs or carbureted engines.

Getting something new tested and approved for aviation is a long, slow, expensive process because so many lives depend on it. In many cases, it's a matter of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ And once it has been tested to aviation standards, it is expensive to procure. So when whatever manager sets his priorities for his limited budget, "an ATIS that sounds nicer" doesn't usually make the cut if the existing setup works & meets the requirements. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Oct 11, 2022 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ Wonder what the DV was for. I can't fix what I don't know is broken... $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Oct 11, 2022 at 16:38

Because the equipment/software/license has been bought and paid for, and it isn't inoperative. No big conspiracy about it.

File enough ASRS reports calling the voice a safety hazard and something might change.

  • $\begingroup$ Do you have further details on exactly which system is used? It would be useful to know if an actual synthesizer unit is still used, or if it has already been replaced long ago but maintained the same voice for commonality reasons. $\endgroup$ Oct 11, 2022 at 16:01
  • $\begingroup$ I do not, sorry. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Oct 11, 2022 at 16:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.