Controlled Airports

Bob Turner

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 4, 2018
Messages
369
#1
Been flying for 56 years - only in the last ten have I come to these tenets for good tower communication.

Avoid unnecessary words. "Request" is not a necessary word unless you have something complicated in mind. "Holding short of" are never necessary unless the controller utters them first, and then they become mandatory. "Over here at . . " - really?

I now teach - and this is new - each and every time you hear a runway in a clearance, repeat that exact runway number with your N- number. No, it is not yet required. Yes, it soon will be. Example: Champ 123, cleared for takeoff 28 Right, right downwind approved turn outside the Cherokee ahead." In the olden days, folks would say "rolling, right downwind outside the Cherokee." Still legal.

But with multiple parallel runways, foolish. Try this: "28 Right, Champ 123, wilco."

Why so short? Is anything important missing? Does this leave room for more important transmissions?

Never answer a standby unless a controller asks for additional info - example: Champ 123 you are number three for departure behind the King Air, standby." Your answer should be radio silence - not even a mike click. What we often hear is the N- number repeated twice, the words "holding short of", and all those other words that are not needed or desired by the controller.

Never, ever call a controller this way: "Memphis Center, Champ 123." Never! Tell them something about why you are calling them. Example: " Socal, Champ 123, two north of Montgomery, 3000 feet, going to Hemet. Can you watch?"

Don't make them pry it out of you. Initial callup to ground? Who you are, where you are, what you want to do, ATIS. Don't make them beg! Example: "Evening ground, Champ 123, taxiway Bravo with Zulu, taxi straight out." There are only two unnecessary words in that: "evening" and "with". Maybe you think the controller needs to be reminded where he works? Then call him "Memphis Ground". Chances are he/she already knows that. If there is any question about who is who, you still only need one word: "Evening Memphis, Champ 123, five southwest with Zulu, landing." That way the guys in Birmingham won't answer you.

There is more - I will save it until the outrage subsides.
 

Clifford Daly

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Joined
Apr 12, 2018
Messages
139
#2
I like the point of simple phraseology but a few points to add for the NY area. Controllers are overworked and don’t listen until they hear a call, with this said blurting everything out at once usually ends up in a “aircraft calling say again” and in my opinion that just clutters up the radio even more!

Another thing is that it’s very easy to forget to change a frequency and with some airports being so close it could transmit, so saying “Long Island ground” is there to confirm you are talking to the right place. It is actually required for controllers to repeat back who they are so confirm one again, almost like the positive exchange of flight controls. It wouldn’t be the first time I heard of someone sitting at one airport with the diagram of another airport sitting on their lap!
 

aftCG

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 3, 2018
Messages
147
Location
Tacoma, WA
#3
With you (no pun intended) almost 100%.

Never in my life have I heard "can you watch?" and only an old geezer would say "Wilco". I bet I can't even find five people who can tell me what that means. Wilco went out with the Jerry curl and "five by five"

Also concur that around here if you give the entire "Seattle approach, Citabria 602Z, six south of (wherever), flight following, destination Echo Papa Hotel" I will have stepped on at least two "real" planes. And no, I don't have a slow southern drawl.

Given how often I'm declined or thrown out of FF with a "squawk vfr frequency change approved" I begin by flying to a known waypoint (so I don't have to give a distance or other wasted breath), use a frequency I know is valid (avoiding the "dumbass on my frequency, contact Seattle approach on 120.1") and I do say "request vfr flight following" instead of "with request" like I was taught oh so long ago.

If they want to play I'll spit out the rest. It's about 50/50.
 

Bob Turner

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Apr 4, 2018
Messages
369
#4
Oh, interesting! I had heard "Wilco" was archaic and never used, but take a look at its usefulness in a crowded environment: it means "I understand, and will comply." Is there any other aviation term that means precisely that? "Roger" is the one that needs to disappear - it means nothing, and a tail number is a better response.

If the tower says "continue downwind, I will call your base. Three departures prior to your arrival", what do you say? Three alternatives: read it back exactly; read it all back but change two words; or just say "Wilco, 123". Which is best in a crowded environment?

On the callup - check with ATC professionals. They absolutely do not want callups that do not contain information beyond an N- number. I checked. Stuckmic forum is a good resource, although its participants can occasionally be ornery and derisive.

Try that N-number callup with our excellent controllers and they will give you a short lesson on how to call up ATC. We are getting the old guys caught up on that.
 

aftCG

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Joined
Apr 3, 2018
Messages
147
Location
Tacoma, WA
#5
Oh I'm one of the five geezers I referred to. As I learned it "Roger" is "I understand" and "Wilco" means "will comply" which is why they used to come together as "Roger, Wilco"
I still hear "Roger" all the time but it's mostly people trying to sound cool.

Obviously you can't Wilco without Rogering! The version I learned was that Wilco fell out of favor because there is no confirmation of what you were asked to do.

Great discussion by the way. I hope it keeps going.

As far as extending downwind I will often reply "extending, 02Z" or just "02Z" since it's not one of the mandatory taxi, takeoff, hold short or land items. The latter I would only use in my local pattern where they know they can throw anything at me. They seem to appreciate there is at least one plane that can comply to any strange request with no issue.

Early turn, short approach, calling my base, etc I just respond by doing it. A couple of weeks ago I had just made a touch and go, was about 20' AGL when he asked me for an early crosswind. So I gave him one. It wasn't exactly per the published noise abatement procedure but I made it to TPA for a midfield downwind turn. He didn't complain.
 

JimParker256

1965 Champion 7ECA (O-200)
Joined
Apr 3, 2018
Messages
105
Location
McKinney, TX
#6
Bob said "If the tower says "continue downwind, I will call your base. Three departures prior to your arrival", what do you say? Three alternatives: read it back exactly; read it all back but change two words; or just say "Wilco, 123". Which is best in a crowded environment?"

I agree "Wilco" means "I will comply" but doesn't give tower the warm fuzzy that you heard the most important part of their transmission, which (for separation purposes) is "continue downwind." I'm more aligned with aftCG, and my typical response would be "Continuing, 123." By repeating the same key word they used ("Continuing"), they get confirmation I understood what they asked. Just my 3 cents worth. (Inflation, you know.)
 

Bob Turner

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Joined
Apr 4, 2018
Messages
369
#7
Only reason for posting - time to get a little activity around here.

Heard yesterday: " Montgomery tower, this is Cessna 12345, actually ready to go, holding short of 28 Right."
Tower: Direction of flight?"
Me (not out loud) "actually?"

Hearing a lot "Looking for that traffic at two o'clock southbound."

Good thing they were looking for the traffic the tower pointed out, I guess, instead of some other inbound missile. I wonder what the word "that" adds?

One of my students, who is now a KingAir captain, brought a young hardbody blonde by the other day, and was telling her about my instructional techniques: "and Bob taught me a whole different way of doing readbacks!"
 

JimParker256

1965 Champion 7ECA (O-200)
Joined
Apr 3, 2018
Messages
105
Location
McKinney, TX
#8
And just to keep it going... I was on the upwind leg, barely 250 feet off the ground, when tower gave me this clearance: "Citabria 9502S, make left traffic, cleared for touch-and-go runway 36. You're number 5 behind a Cirrus making an extended left base entry. Report Cirrus traffic in sight."

I was tempted to reply: "Citabria 02S has the Cirrus on the fish-finder, cleared #5 for touch-and-go runway 36" (But of course I didn't say that... though I actually DID have the CIrrus traffic on ADS-B IN. Nice to be able to "see" all four of the aircraft landing before me...)

I figured Bob's "Wilco, 02S" was not sufficient, so I said "02S, will report Cirrus in sight, cleared number 5 for touch-and-go runway 36 behind the Cirrus."

Ironically, even though I was well over a mile out (and flying final at a slow 60 mph) when the the Cirrus touched down, he landed long (about 2500 feet down the 7,000-foot-long runway), then rolled out (very slowly) to the very end of the runway instead of turning off at any of the three taxiways that he could have used, given his position and taxi speed. Tower had no choice, with an airplane still occupying the active, but to have me go around...

Pardon the rant for a minute... But when you're cleared #4 for landing, and you hear #5 cleared right behind you, you have to know you're not alone in the pattern at that airport. So don't discuss where you're going to lunch after the flight while you're still rolling casually down the middle of the runway! Get down and get off! Rant over. Thanks, I feel much better now!
 

Bob Turner

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 4, 2018
Messages
369
#9
Not me! Remember, I teach "runway number and N number". My response would be
"Champ 02 Sierra, number five, runway 36, wilco."

And note that I use "Champ" in place of four syllables. Lots quicker.