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Communications problems have been studied in terms of their consequences, such as operational errors and accidents, and the results published in aviation safety journals. They can also be described as a concept of information transfer based on the information theory perspective of communications. Perceptual problems occur which lead to misproducing and misunderstanding messages, and linguistic problems are a product of the nature of language itself.

Whether nationally or internationally, the joint goals of safety and efficiency are accomplished through an intricate series of procedures, judgements, plans, decisions, communications and co-ordinating activities. The public is familiar with the radio communications which occur between pilots and controllers but equally as critical are the co-ordinations within and between air traffic control facilities when controllers ‘hand-off’ aircraft as they pass from one controller’s sector of responsibility to another. "The predominate factor of the ATC system", writes Stock (1993), ‘is that it is centred on the controller with all the safety critical decisions emanating from that source"