Aviation Communications - En Route Procedures

En Route Communications

After your handoff to the Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) controlling your area, you will remain with Center except when you are transitioning through the airspace of other class B and C airports. These airports will have their own approach controllers that will handle you as you transition their airspace. You will be handed back to the appropriate center after you pass through these areas.

Continuing outbound from Tampa with the handoff from class B Approach to Center:

“Miami center, Cessna four eight seven charlie echo, level five thousand.”

“Cessna four eight seven charlie echo, Miami center, good evening, maintain present heading intercept the dolphin three three five radial and track inbound.”

“Present heading for the dolphin three three five, Cessna seven charlie echo”, or “present heading to intercept the dolphin three three five inbound, Cessna seven charlie echo”. Either response works, and let the controller know you understood his transmission.

To track the dolphin 335 inbound (referencing the proper chart (both VFR sectional charts and low altitude enroute charts provide the VOR frequencies and the airways)), tune the VOR to 113.9 and test, then set the omni-bearing selector to the reciprocal of 335°, which is 155°. Continue to fly your assigned heading until the needle comes alive (starts to move). As the needle moves toward center start your turn to the compass heading of 155° so that upon reaching that heading, the needle is centered. Your actual heading will be 155° plus or minus a wind correction angle.

The easiest way to calculate a compass reciprocal is to remember this simple formula. If the heading for which you need to find a reciprocal is 180° or less, add 200 and subtract 20; if the heading is greater than 180°, subtract 200 and add 20. (335 – 200 = 135 + 20 = 155°)

As long as your course leads you to the dolphin three three five radial and you correctly make the intercept, you will likely not hear from center again except for traffic notifications until it is time for a hand-off to the controller handling the next sector.

A typical traffic notification:

“ Cessna seven charlie echo, Miami, you have traffic at your eleven o’clock, and ten miles.”

“Looking for traffic, seven charlie echo”, or “Tally-ho, Cessna seven charlie echo”, if you have the traffic in sight, or “seven charlie echo is IMC”, if you are in instrument conditions.

The controller does not know if you are IMC or not, unless the whole area is being reported as IMC.

Another traffic advisory:

“Cessna seven charlie echo, Miami, you have VFR traffic at your nine o’clock and five miles, altitude indicates two thousand three hundred, unverified.”

“Traffic in sight, Cessna seven charlie echo”, or “tally-ho, Cessna seven charlie echo”, or “no joy, Cessna seven charlie echo”, if you do not see the traffic.

When the controller says that the altitude is unverified, it means that he is not talking to the pilot therefore that pilot has not verified the mode-C/S read-out with his altimeter reading.

Some pilots will look at the traffic and tell ATC that they can verify the altitude. This is not true, and you should not make such a statement. You cannot accurately tell the altitude of another aircraft unless you are about to contact it. ATC will not accept your verification of another aircrafts altitude with any degree of certainty anyway.

ATC may on the other hand ask you if the altitude of an aircraft “looks” right. This only means that if for example, you are at six or seven thousand feet, and ATC is talking about another aircraft whose altitude indicates say two thousand feet; if it looks right to you, meaning yes, he is low. In actuality you can’t tell if the other aircraft is at one thousand feet or three thousand feet.

As you are flying along the controller may call you for a radio check. Either he is trying a different microphone or possibly another pilot complained of his radio performance. It could also be that he has been trying to reach you unsuccessfully.

“Cessna four eight seven charlie echo, Miami Center, how do you read.”

An acceptable response would be:

“Loud and clear Miami, how me?”, or “readable but scratchy, Miami, how me?”, or “barely readable Miami, Cessna seven charlie echo.”

Your response should answer the controllers question; it should not be a statement like:

“I gotcha Miami”, or “I hear you”, these are unacceptable responses, and the controller will tell you so.

There will be times when the controller asks you about your flight conditions. He or she is looking for information to pass on to other pilots so your report should be accurate. What you report to the controller will affect clearances and instructions to other pilots. A common error in pilot reports is turbulence, which is reported as: chop, light, moderate, or severe. You should have a clear understanding of the definition of turbulence as defined in the AIM. What is severe turbulence to you might be only light turbulence to a more experienced pilot so be careful of your reports. One of the most important safety factors in aviation is recognizing and not exceeding your personal limitations, and not confusing them with other limitations.

“Cessna four eight seven charlie echo, Miami center, say flight conditions.”

Some typical reports of flight conditions:

“VFR, continuous light rain, and light chop, Cessna seven charlie echo”, or “IFR, occasional heavy rain, and light turbulence”, or “IFR, continuous heavy rain, and light to moderate turbulence, Cessna seven charlie echo”, or “Clear VFR, smooth ride, Cessna seven charlie echo.”

If you are experiencing severe turbulence you are likely to be very busy flying the aircraft and unable to answer until conditions improve. This is not a problem even if the controller becomes upset and impatient with your inability to answer. You must remember that he is not in your aircraft and he has no idea of what you are going through. Remember that severe turbulence is a loss of control, so make your reports accurate.

“Miami, I just went through an area of severe turbulence, with intermittent heavy rain, Cessna seven charlie echo”. “Roger, seven charlie echo, thanks for the report.”

As you continue the enroute phase of your flight you may get a handoff to another controller in the next sector, or it may be a frequency change where you will remain with the same controller.

“Cessna four eight seven charlie echo, contact Miami Center one three two point four five” (a different controller), or “Cessna four eight seven charlie echo, change my south frequency one three two point four five” (the same controller).

“Thirty two forty five, Cessna seven charlie echo”, or “one three two point four five, Cessna seven charlie echo”, either of these responses will work for example one.

In the case of example two above, it is not necessary to respond to the instruction if you tune and call back soon enough because you will be talking to the same controller. You would quickly tune and respond with:

“Cessna seven charlie echo with you on thirty two forty five”, or “Cessna seven charlie echo with you on one three two point four five.”

If you tune and respond to slowly your call will be the same as in example one where you would be talking to a different controller.

“Miami Center, Cessna seven charlie echo level five thousand.”

Your enroute flight will continue in this way until you get your handoff to the approach controller at your destination.

“Cessna four eight seven charlie echo, Miami center, descend and maintain four thousand, contact approach one one niner point seven, good day.”

“Four thousand, nineteen point seven, Cessna seven charlie echo, thank you.” END Jump to Top