Reductions of controller-pilot communications and workload have been shown as a result of area navigation (RNAV) procedure implementation in the terminal environment, yet the impact on controller-pilot communication performance aspects, such as the lag between communication issuance and response, the duration of communications, and the time spent communicating, is unknown.

It was hypothesized that the combination of reduced communications and workload (enabled by RNAV implementation) could result in reduced aural vigilance (which would manifest in the form of an increased response lag). It was also hypothesized that little change in the amount of time spent issuing and responding to communications would be shown due to the adjustment of human behavior to a lower level of workload experienced with RNAV operations (which would manifest in the form of decreased speech rate and/or increased use of chat (e.g., salutations)).

To investigate these effects, controller-pilot voice communication field data reflecting busy arrival traffic was evaluated in conventional operations and RNAV operations. Pilot and controller communications were broken into three components; (1) the initial communication (made by either the controller or the pilot), (2) the response communication to the initial communication (made by either the controller or the pilot), and (3) the time lag in between the initial communication and the response communication. Results showed that controller and pilot communication duration, the time between the initial and response communications, and total time-on-frequency were all relatively unchanged across conventional and RNAV arrival operations.