Examples of common poor aviation communications
Aviation communication should follow a strict and professional method. There are many pilots listening on every frequency at any given time. Radio transmissions from an airborne aircraft travel a great distance, often times a 75-mile radius around the transmitting aircraft or even much more. Though it may seem that you are the only pilot in the air at the time, it is never that way. If you practice unprofessional communications your poor example is heard by a large community. If you are a flight instructor and consequently teaching those bad examples, your poor technique is witnessed by many. Pilots should hold themselves to a higher standard. If you find yourself using the examples below take the initiative to learn better methods which will enhance the quality of your instruction.
Aviation communications should always be concise and specific. Unnecessary words should be ommitted even during read-back. In some airpaces, the radio traffic is so busy that pilots listen and do not respond at all. The practice of clicking the mic button as a response is no more acceptable than any other unnecessary communication. Every airborne aircraft on your frequency hears it.
Following are some of the most commonly used poor radio communications examples. You will hear these examples used often, even by flight instructors. You will rarely, if ever hear these examples by the Professionals.
- And... - Sentences do not begin with "and"; neither do aviation communications. This is an indication that a pilot has some confusion with what he/she needs to say.
- Runway, "zero two" - Pilots should not precede a single digit runway number with zero, it is simply improper. This is common, though the thought may be clarification, it is anything but. Just don't do it. The only numbers that are preceded with a zero, are headings which are always stated with three digits, i.e. heading "zero six zero".
- Two mile final - Though many don't realise it, except for Jet traffic the normal aircraft traffic pattern is within 1/2 mile of the airport; helicopters 1/4 mile. There is a reason; the glide distance of an aircraft at pattern altitude during a catostrophic event such as an engine failure would not permit reaching the airport from a greater distance. Therefore, final is that which would be flown on a normal traffic pattern. Any distance greater than that is a straight-in approach, not final. Calling a final while a mile or more from the airport is rude, and displays a lack of professionalism.
- Fur - An inexperienced pilot will commonly use the intended word, "for", however it will come across as "fur". Take for example, "helicopter four niner two three, left downwind fur runway two two". This should be stated as, "helicopter four niner two three, left downwind two two". The furry runway can simply be omitted.
- To - As with "fur", the word "to" in most cases can simply be omitted; there are some exceptions. Take for example, "helicopter two four xray, ten south, inbound to Millington. This would be better stated, "helicopter two four xray, one zero, ten south, landing Millington". Note that when stating two digit distances, you should state both as demonstrated. Another example, "one nine, ninteen south".
- With the numbers - Though the statement, "with the numbers", is acceptable at a controlled airport without ATIS, but with weather, many pilots use this improper statement where they should state the proper ATIS designator, "helicopter two four xray five south with romeo, landing Millington".
- Lengthy read-backs - Verbatim read-backs are radio clutter and unnecessary. Pilot's should understand that the purpose of the read-back is not verbatim, but rather that the controller knows that the pilot understands the instruction. Leave off the clutter and brief the instruction. Example of controller instruction, "helicopter two three four, runway two two, cleared for take-off, turn left heading zero six zero, climb maintain 2000, contact approach on 123.45". You can see where a verbatim read-back takes a lot of radio time and is not necessary, it is better to read-back, "cleared for take-off two two, left zero six zero, maintain 2000, approach twenty three forty five. Note that it is never necessary to read back the radio frequency digit of one since all radio frequencies begin with one. With this briefed read-back, the controller knows that you understood your instruction, and he can get right to the next aircraft awaiting communications. Another example is the departure clearance, "helicopter three four xray contact departure one two three point four five". You can simply state (using the "one" or not), "departure now, one twenthy three fourty five".
- Conversation on the radio - The aviation radio is not the medium for conversation which is rude to say the least, to the many other pilots using the radio. Just because you are the only pilot who seems to be on the radio, you are not. There are designated air-to-air frequencies for pertinent communication needs, but even these are not for you to enjoy a conversation with your buddy. That is what phones are for, use one to talk to your buddy when you land.
- Meet me on 123.45 - 123.45 is a special use frequency as clarified in FAA 6050.32B, yet is seems to be one of the most commonly used frequencies for inappropriate aviation radio conversation chatter. As stated above, no aviation radio frequency is intended for conversation, but rather for pertinent and necessary communications which sometimes includes air-to-air, and there are specific frequencies for that. Fixed wing air-to-air is 122.75, and helicopter air-to-air is 123.02; neither are intended for conversation.
- Acknowledgement by Mic clicking - If it's not worth responding to, it's not worth clicking the mic either. This is common during the inappropriate conversation mentioned above. Simply radio misuse.
- Terminating communications with "traffic" - Proper communications are, "Ocala traffic, helicopter two three four left downwind one eight, Ocala", not Ocala traffic. The purpose of using the airport city or locale at the end is to clarify which airport you are operating at.
- Ambiguous or indistinct area of operation, "west tennessee traffic" - An ambiguous statement such as, "West tennessee traffic..." or "North Mississippi traffic...", is inappropriate and should be avoided; it is simply to vague and serves no practical purpose. If it is important to tell someone where you are, it is important to be more specific than a huge geographic area which tells no one anything.
- The active - "Rockwood traffic, helicopter two one four taxing to the active". Really? What makes it active, the fact that you are planning to use it? "Gainesville traffic, cessna one two three taking the active for departure". How retarded is that statement, yet you hear it all the time. Any statement using the term "active" is inappropriate since it doesn't tell any interested pilot anything of specific value. If you don't know what runway you are using, then educate yourself and tell others which runway it is.
Aviation communications are serious and should be professional. Professionalism is what makes aviation safe, and what distinguishes it from the hazzards with other modes of transportation where you can simply pull off the road. Nonsense chatter on the radio where others may need to talk is inexcusable.
Do your part to keep aviation safe and professional; be courteous, as you will appreciate the same from others. END. Jump to Top