Cultural Differences as a Cause of Misunderstanding

After deep diving into the literature of culture and its effect and psychological aspects in the sociotechnical environment. It became very evident that cultural difference can agent miscommunication and misunderstanding building to a disaster. Here we will analyze the Avianca disaster and the Korean flight 801 disaster through the National Transportation Safety Board reports.

We get a series of detailed events that happened that will help to derive our own conclusions. With the understanding of the cultural aspects can now correlate it to the airplanes disasters that have happened.

The report we have is from a national security report for the Avianca tragedy. It details out the chain of events that happened.

It crashed on January 25, 1990, at 21:34. The cause of the crash was rooted in its running out of fuel during the flight after flight crew failed to land and also convey the severity of the fuel condition. The death toll encompassed eight crew members along with sixty-five passengers. The report clearly stated that the mishap was due to an inability to communicate the low fuel emergency and failure in following protocol for an emergency situation.

There was an acute dysfunction in a standardized terminology for pilots and controllers to communicate in situations as such.

It was noted the flight had sufficient fuel to cover its route. There was a loss of communication between the aircrew and the air traffic controllers, also the irresponsible attitude shown by the pilots in regard to the fuel load and not realizing the that the fuel had reached a critical condition.

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Even when they realized the critical situation, they failed to use the proper dialect to covey the severity. There are defined words and phrases to transmit sensitive situations over to the proper authority. The conversation between the first officer and the JFK tower controller was completely broken and misunderstood.

The conversation was we’ll try once again we’re running out of fuel, to which the controller replied, okay. This conversation clearly shows the disrupt in conversation. The fact that the flight was running out of fuel was conversed over like a normal chat failing to show that criticality of the situation. The report stated the atmosphere of communication between crew was of total breakdown. The crew didnt use the word priority or any the assertions declared in the formal dialect to be indicative of an emergency. This points to the difference between dialect and understanding. The report detailed out various minor incidents during the journey where the flight crew magnanimously failed to convey the danger of their scenario. This disrupts in communications continued even when the engines were on fire.

The controllers are the only respondent to immediate danger or emergency words like mayday, emergency. Also conveying extremely important and urgent messages with the word priority are promptly respected by the controllers. The loss of life was the outcome of linguistic confusion and different cultural understanding. The second document to be discussed is the Korean air flight. In the document, we learn that Flight 801 took off from Seoul-Kimpo International Airport on August 5. The death tolled high with 254 people dying due the crash. The circumstances that caused this disaster were jotted down to the captain’s inefficiency in executing a safety plan, complete break-down of communication among the crew and the deficiencies in the flight crew prior training.

The crew used an old and outdated flight map didnt show a 724-foot obstruction symbol described the Minimum Safe Altitude as 1,300 feet (400 m) rather than the correct altitude of 1,440 feet. The report determines that the evidence of this accident was the captains failure to adequately transient and execute the non-precision approach and also the initial officers and flight engineers failure to effectively monitor and assure the captains execution of the approach. Contributing to those failures were the captains fatigue and Korean Airs inadequate flight crew coaching. Also, the Aviation Administrations purposeful reluctance towards the minimum safe altitude warning system at landing and also the agencys failure to adequately manage the system.

Thus, in the end, we can see that the disaster was again due to literature misunderstanding which was due to the difference in cultural understanding. The detailed description of both disasters gives us a clear idea that the disasters were caused due to a communication barrier and interference of human cultures. When it comes to airplanes communication is key. At such heights and so many lives at hand, there needs to be crystal-clear communication with the crew and with the lad crew too.

It takes only seconds for a disaster to happen and if a simple misunderstanding or miscommunication is the cause then the whole system is compromised. So, via these disasters, we can analyze that technical issue has not been the source of disasters. There is a whole deal of that we are unaware of or we swipe it under the rug as an insignificant cause.

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Cultural Differences as a Cause of Misunderstanding. (2019, Nov 27). Retrieved from

Cultural Differences as a Cause of Misunderstanding
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