Communication Between Flight Deck Crew (Pilots) and Cabin Crew Members (Flight Attendants)

Communication between Flight Deck Crew and Cabin Crew 

The success of many aviation accidents and incidents can be attributed to trustworthy relationships and good communication and co ordination procedures between Flight Deck and Cabin Crew Members.

The Flight Deck will always be manned by at least 2 Flight Deck Crew Members i.e. the Captain otherwise known as the Commander, and a First Officer (Co Pilot).  The commander is always in charge of the aircraft, but should the commander become incapacitated, the First Officer will take over his duties.  Some aircraft types are also operated with a Flight Engineer whose duties include fuel management and monitoring of instruments.


 The primary reason for having two pilots on every flight is safety. If something happens to the Captain, an aircraft must have another pilot who can step in. It is important however to note that in this instance an aircraft can safely be flown by only one pilot. Additionally, the First Officer provides a second opinion on piloting decisions, keeping pilot error to a minimum.

Cabin Crew composition will vary depending on the aircraft type being operated.  This could mean a single crew member operation which is often the case with the charter industry, or it could mean a 24 crew member operation as is the case on the Airbus 380.

English is the only internationally accepted language and crew are required to communicate in English at all times while on duty. This rule even applies when Flight Deck crew communicate with Air Traffic Control.

Fatal accidents have been caused due to poor communication, the worst disaster in aviation history, being an accident which took place in Tenerife when 583 passengers and crew were killed.

Prior to the commencement of every flight a pre-flight briefing takes place between Flight Deck and cabin crew members. This is the time to exchange information regarding expectations, workloads, duties, ensuring that crew never unintentionally violate each other’s procedures and this is the ideal platform to raise any concerns or clarity which may be required.   Clear guidance will ensure that nothing is left for misinterpretation. This combined pre-flight briefing is essential as it sets the tone for the flight.

Other than communication taking place for safety requirements, Flight Deck crew are served refreshments by cabin crew during a flight.  The procedures for this service will also be discussed during the pre-flight briefing taking care not to serve the same meals to both Captain and First Officer at the same time in order to avoid food poisoning.  Hot beverages must be served in insulated cups so as not to burn the Flight Crew and these drinks must be served outboard towards the Flight Deck windows so as to ensure that the drinks are not spilt on any of the Flight Deck systems.