Volume 25, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
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This paper draws on insights and practices of ethnomethodology and conversation analysis to explore routine talk-in-interaction in the airline cockpit; that is, the place of pilots’ talk as they establish what is going on around them, what they are doing, who is doing what, when they have completed what they are doing, and what they are to do next. I am interested in features of talk as pilots develop and demonstrate to one another their situated and moment-to-moment understandings in order to perform and complete the tasks necessary to fly their plane. In particular, I examine how pilots coordinate their talk and non-talk activities with split-second precision. This paper shows how pilots precisely coordinate their talk with the placement and movement of their hands as they use various cockpit controls and displays. This precise coordination may be particularly germane in the sequentially task-oriented setting of the airline cockpit, and possibly other sociotechnical workplace settings. Such coordination contributes to what the pilots can ‘know’, moment-to-moment, about the progress of their flight and their conduct of it. The outcome of a precise coordination of talk and non-talk activity is a synchronisation of the pilots’ conduct of a task, and the progress of the flight, as these are represented in talk and as they really are. This paper goes a little way towards an understanding of what it is to be, accountably and recognisably, an airline pilot, and shows how every airline flight is simultaneously and necessarily both a technological triumph and an interactional accomplishment.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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