Read you 5 – Is this on? One-two-tree?

May 18, 2015 by . 0 comments

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Hello Aviation World,

My name is SentryRaven and I am going to take you on a trip along radio phraseology and its benefits. Many of our questions on Aviation.SE deal with radio transmissions, be it questions about terms such as in What is our Vector, Victor? or legal questions such as Is it legal for Joe Public to listen to ATC in the UK?. Maybe it’s time to take you into the depths of radio telephony and phraseology – one of the most mysterious things of aviation. Being based in Germany, Europe, bear with me if I refer to documents that pertain to my neck of the woods, such as the AIP Germany – GEN 3.4: Communication Services. How to get it? EAD EUROCONTROL provides a website where EASA member countries can submit their documents, such as IFR charts and AIP sections for easy access, all you will need is to register an account for free. So let me open up that AIP GEN 3.4 and let’s get started!

What’s this all about?

We all agree that with the modern age of commercial and general aviation, the airspace above us has become quite full with either little white plastic planes taking private pilots to the next airfield to enjoy a Schnitzel1 or metallic tube-shaped objects that take Joe, Jim, Jenny and Julie to their next holiday or Mike, Molly, Mitch and Manfred to their next business meeting. So how do you prevent all these aircraft from getting in each other’s way and crashing into each other while flying to the same airfield or trying to fly in opposite directions between A and B?

As with any conflict, whether in aviation or a relationship, there is a general rule that is a key element to prevent, resolve and review conflicts: Communication is key!

Honey, we need to talk!

As essential communication is, it becomes difficult if participants in the communication process do not speak the same language! In some cases even the same language can cause problems in understanding, my fellow German citizens will agree that the local dialect from Bavaria or Saxony is about as easy to understand as someone talking English in a thick Scottish accent. So if you want to communicate in an environment where you have to rely on transmissions being broadcasted through radio-waves, being understandable over engine ambient sound and having the same meaning to all participants, you will need to get down to a common denominator: vocabulary!

Let me ask again: What’s this all about?

In short, these series will deal with what we call the Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunication Service (AFTS/AFS), which deals with how transmissions and communication in general have to be constructed so that the actual message and meaning comes across to all participants in the same way. We will dig apart why position reports in the pattern will save lives, why forestation doesn’t play a role in communication but there are many trees around and why “GIVE ME 5 WHISKEY” was actually quite common to hear in Munich (EDDM).


1: Anecdotally: If you ask a pilot why he went flying over the weekend or what he did at airfield XYZ, the most common reason will be food. Marl (EDLM) has a good Latte Macchiato, Siegerland (EDGS) has properly-sized Schnitzel and Koblenz (EDRK) has a Greek restaurant directly at the airstrip. Flying makes hungry, you see?

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