View Full Version : What is this "coming down" business?

6th Mar 2008, 12:20
Heard Emirates the other day replying to a new issued squawk code. "1234 coming down, emirates ***"

For goodness sake, cant emirates teach their "pilots" to stop talking rubbish on the radio? What is coming down, where,??

Thought we got rid of this years ago.

Keep being told by my ex airline collegues, how great airline pilots are with their fantastic standards and rigid SOP's and everyone else is a "bush pilot". Yeah right...

6th Mar 2008, 12:25
Heard 'Coming Down' when it first impinged on my consciousness in the 70s. The skipper had 'picked up' the jargon from listening to the professionals.

We ribbed him unmercifully until he stopped it. We also stopped him smoking :)

Now do the professionals use Roger?

Or the really professional use Roger that.

Until my daughter told me how she cracked up whenever she heard roger that I had never given it a thought. Now whenever I read an American techno-thriller they are rogering that all the time.

I wouldn't want to be that :}

6th Mar 2008, 13:48
For blowing my personal fuse, "coming down" and other such affectations pale into insignificance beside "The Emirates", something heard all too frequently from the Sandpit fleet, particularly with a Home Counties or thereabouts accent.

Offhand, I can't think of anything that sounds more wannabe pretentious.

6th Mar 2008, 13:53
Prolly nicked from the Merchant Navy.

Call up on Ch.16. Agree freq. change to Ch.69 Response invariably Channel 69 going down :E:E

6th Mar 2008, 14:02

Yes "THE Emirates" takes the big biscuit alright.

It's going to be unbearable for us mare mortals when the A380 comes online!

Bern Oulli
6th Mar 2008, 15:26
Surely going from Ch.16 to Ch.69 would be "going up"?

6th Mar 2008, 15:33
Going to 69 is definetly "going down".

Arm out the window
6th Mar 2008, 22:20
Wader, you may be surprised to know that 'Roger' is approved and correct terminology in international aviation use, meaning 'Message received and understood', as is 'Wilco', which means 'I will comply with your instruction'.

So while your mirth is understandable, it's a bit misguided. Pilots and air traffic controllers are rogering away worldwide as we speak!

7th Mar 2008, 00:43
Yes army, roger does indeed have a very specific meaning. However "roger that" I believe does not.

Arm out the window
7th Mar 2008, 00:49
True. I should have added before that I've heard 'roger that' used a lot, as well as (less frequently) 'roger dodger', sometimes abbreviated to 'roger D', which somehow also mutates into 'roger dog' and even 'roger frog'!

7th Mar 2008, 00:51
What about 'Over' and 'Over and out'?
(as used by Tony Hancock in his Test Pilot sketch IIRC)

7th Mar 2008, 01:01
no, that's not part of terminology. The end of the message is usually denoted by the use of the station callsign, (a station being any entity approved to transmit. Counterintuitively an aircraft is as much a station in terms of aviation RT as a ground installation) or in the case of a readback, such as when replying to a clearance issued, the person receiving the message knows when it is finished as all the information has been read back.

Farmer 1
7th Mar 2008, 07:34
'Roger' is approved and correct terminology in international aviation use, meaning 'Message received and understood'

"Roger" is the correct terminology for "understood".


"Roger" means, "I have received your last transmission."

Not a lot of people know that, it seems.

Takan Inchovit
7th Mar 2008, 07:44
Splitting "big rabbits" on the definition Farmer? :hmm:

7th Mar 2008, 08:48
A while ago "affirm" was introduced to replace "affirmative"....for some reason it took me a while before I could say it without cringeing.

I can remember years back when ex WW2 aircrew would sometimes use the old fashioned phonetic alphabet....was that pretentiousness or habit? (by this time, the war had been over for 30 years)

7th Mar 2008, 08:56
Yeah, you get to hear some funny stuff now and then but the single accident with the largest death toll, "Tenerife", led directly to a simple change in terminology, so that we are now "Ready for departure," when we were once "Ready for takeoff." More than 500 people died for that change.

British R/T licence holders should all have a free copy of "Supplement to CAP 413/RADIO TELEPHONY MANUAL" ISBN 978 0 11790 716 4. (Also available as a download at www.caa.co.uk) Mine just showed up in the mail and I look through it every so often just to keep on the Path of Righteousness.

One that used to drive me crazy was tower controllers telling me "Roger," when I needed a crossing clearance for a runway. They were mixed up between "Cleared to cross," what I needed, and "Roger," simply meaning, "Yeah, I heard you," without any permission implied.

Another one was being told "Squawk Alfa 1234," when there is no such term, since "Mode Alfa" is simply the discrete code itself! The local controllers were convinced that "Alfa" stood for "Altitude" (Mode C) and each generation picked up this misunderstanding from the last and stuck to it.

When non-pilots listen in on the chatter they might think some of the speech is funny and they might be right but it is really just a very narrowly specialised way of passing information back and forth with each phrase having just one meaning. There is no "You say potato, I say potahto," to it when it's done correctly.

A Brit specialty is reporting "Short Finals," instead of "Short Final." Where did the plural come from in the first place, given that we only do one approach at a time?

Many Nigerians have added their own twist with "Fiver". Because both 5 and 9 have similar long vowels 9 is spoken as "Niner" with 5 becoming "Fife." That way you don't mix the two numbers up if you don't hear them 100% clearly. In Nigeria, though, you will often hear "Fiver," making a nice match for "Niner," I suppose but also defeating the purpose of the added "r". We would often quote Scripture there with the shortest verse in the New Testament, just not on the active frequency.

When you are out there sharing your existence with large, fast-moving alloy tubes crammed with people you really do need to get it exactly right each and every time. You can laugh about it later but right then and there you just need to have everything clear and unambiguous.

Farmer 1
7th Mar 2008, 09:50
Splitting "big rabbits" on the definition Farmer?

Absolutely not. It is the legal definition of the term. Adding one's own interpretation at best causes confusion, as exemplified in Chuks' post above.

7th Mar 2008, 11:33
Cabbage crates over the briney anyone?? Pip pip!

Farmer 1
7th Mar 2008, 12:03
ATC: "Farmer 1, traffic in your *garble* ....o'clock, closing, advise traffic in sight. Standby for *garble* turn in *garble* miles." Farmer 1: "Roger. (I have received [all off] your last transmission)" ------------------------> make sense? No? Roger means I received [all of] your last transmission but you'd be missing the subtle point if you think it doesn't imply understanding.
"Roger" means, "I have received [all of] your last transmission."

ATC: "Farmer 1, wind check one niner zero at five thousand knots." Farmer 1:"Roger." ?????????????

As you say, Eclan, ???????????????????????????

Roger means I received [all of] your last transmission but you'd be missing the subtle point if you think it doesn't imply understanding.

Is that really what you meant to say? If so, you are wrong. Without being pedantic at all, I would suggest punctuation plays a most important part in imparting the meaning of a sentence. That is its purpose.

Once again, for the record, the term "Roger" certainly does not imply any understanding.

What about 'Over' and 'Over and out'?

no, that's not part of terminology.

'Over' and 'Out' are still accepted terminology but not NORMALLY used in VHF communication. More likely to be heard in HF communication. 'Over and out' is not official terminology.

I agree that "Over" and "Out" are accepted terminology, but "Over and out" is most certainly not, and never has been.

I don't have the book of words to hand, but "Over" means something like: "I have finished this part of the conversation, and I expect an immediate response from you."

On the other hand, "Out" means, "This conversation is finished, and I do not expect a response from you."

Both definitions are my words, but I hope I have managed to convey the meanings. So, when you hear "Over and Out" said on films and TV programmes, you know instantly that the relevant research department has failed in its duty. Can anyone think of a three-word term more nonsensical than "Over and out"?

7th Mar 2008, 12:09

Loved the sketch. Googled the full text:

"Bally Jerry, pranged his kite right in the how's-your-father; hairy blighter, dicky-birded, feathered back on his sammy, took a waspy, flipped over on his Betty Harpers and caught his can in the Bertie. Cabbage crates over the briney, sausage squad up the blue end! What Ho!".

Couldn't find in CAP 413 though..!

Farmer 1
7th Mar 2008, 13:05
So if you listen to ALL OF a partially-garbled transmission, will you still respond with, "Roger"? I presume you would not because you did not understand some of it and therefore you did not truly receive it. A subtle distinction.

The term, "Say again, over," comes to mind.

(Being a mite military there.)

7th Mar 2008, 13:17
I can offer a two-worder: "with you" :}

7th Mar 2008, 15:24
Do both of you, Eclan & Farmer 1 can express yourself without using multiple quotes :confused:

We are not reading back clearance here :}

Farmer 1
7th Mar 2008, 17:06
For a while, I thought this was a serious thread. I will not be participating any more.

Over and out.

'Chuffer' Dandridge
7th Mar 2008, 17:55
Are the BA toffs still using "Speedy xxx"?

7th Mar 2008, 18:50
I have never heard BA use anything but "Speedbird". Privately known to the rest of us as "Birdseed," of course.

When I was a kid we had a TV show named "Sky King". Our hero was a rancher who came up with various crime-fighting uses for first a Cessna "Bamboo Bomber" and then a Cessna 310. It was standard TV fare with shots of Mr King in there in the cockpit while the prop men gently rocked the aircraft. When he was through communicating with his cute, blonde, pony-tailed niece Penny back at the ranch then he would always say "Over and out!"

Do you realise how bummed out I was when I found out that phrase either never had existed or else had been trimmed to plain old "Out" so that that was what I either had to say or else face the wrath of the Federal Communications Commission.

Spare a thought for me here and now: The airwaves are like a fruit salad with English, French, Arabic and the odd bit of Afrikaans too! The first two are used for clearances, the Arabic is used for small stuff like, "Hello, Thank you," and "Goodbye," non-standard but in conformity with the local culture, and then there's the odd bit of Afrikaans between South African crews.

Lots of people still have not taken on board that English is not the only language allowed for ATC communications. I had a Brit with me who used to go a bit spare everytime ATC started in with the Frog again. Legal, schmegal!

7th Mar 2008, 19:05
I fly with one guy who's start call goes: "XXX tower, good morning to you from THE XXX requesting engine start with information (blah blah blah)"

What's wrong with "Tower, XXX, request start with information x"???

It really annoys the t*ts off me!

I hate the "coming down" thing as well!!! :mad:

7th Mar 2008, 19:37
How about '(callsign) rolling runway xx' What the f*ck does that mean?? You're on a rolling runway?? The correct term is 'taking off runway (heading) :*

Floppy Link
7th Mar 2008, 20:02
...and in 32 posts we've drifted back to the conveyor belt! :E

Arm out the window
7th Mar 2008, 22:00
Don't know if 'rolling' is pukka but it's certainly used a lot, and I must say I've never been confused about the meaning.

It does annoy me when people say "we're" doing this or "we're" doing that, eg "XYZ we're X miles north, we're at 2000, we'll be tracking to ... ", twice as many words as required.

That sketch is a good one, though, isn't it? "I'm sorry, Squadron Leader, I don't quite follow your banter ..."

8th Mar 2008, 04:06

If the word "rolling" had been used at Tenerife in 1976, by the aircraft "taking off", the worlds worst air disaster my never have happened. To me the word rolling means an aircraft is in or beginning the takeoff roll, not performing a roll overhead the airfield.

8th Mar 2008, 04:15

It might not be standard patter for the purists out there, (90% of whom I'll lay London to a brick say "The" Speedbird [or whatever] every *** chance they get), but I look upon it as good insurance and admit to using it on occasion, both as a triple check that we ALL (me, my FO and the Tower Controller - and especially the tower controller) agree that we've been cleared for takeoff, (particularly if the clearance was give some time earlier, like with the line up clearance), and secondly to let others on frequency know what's ocurring, like to reassure the bloke on short finals, who's all too often sweating about whether I'm going to be clear of the runway before he either commits to a landing or goes around.

8th Mar 2008, 09:15
Once the word "Take-off" is heard then one can assume that someone is going to be "Rolling." That's why, I guess, that "Take-off" is so restricted in use.

I take your point about saying "Rolling" but it is non-standard and I am sure it has been considered and rejected as just one more word that might lead to some confusion or ambiguity. Spacing between departures and arrivals is the business of ATC and I think we can just leave them to that without trying to "help."

I know what you mean, though; just the other week we were looking at an aircraft just parked there on the numbers for about 45 seconds after being cleared and having read back "Cleared for take-off," when we had to wonder what was going on. I think they were sending a message there about who was more important in the grand scheme of things, the 737-800 crew or the Twin Otter crew. I was not impressed, actually.

All you really need to give is the standard call, "XXX cleared for take-off Runway XX," and you have got the same effect as saying "Rolling." If I hear "Take-off" I know to take that as my cue not to be anywhere near the active runway unless it's my aircraft being cleared.

Part of the problem at Tenerife, I think, was that the word "take-off" was heard by the KLM crew and misunderstood as a clearance to take off. This is why we made the change to the word "departure" when referring to a take-off if anything other than a clearance to take off is being given.

The basic problem is that English is a very rich language. There are many different ways to say the same thing, ways that not everyone will understand, due to their own culture, their level of language ability, their expectations of what they should hear ... this is anything but simple! The powers that be have chosen a very limited vocabulary and given the words very specific meanings because of this.

Another part of the problem is the very human drive towards projecting ourselves as individuals, that sort of "Hey, it is me!" wish to stand out from the crowd. We just have to repress that for safety reasons. Anyway, it's usually so that no one is all that impressed unless we happen to be Bob Hoover in a yellow P-51, say, so that there's not much point in trying to draw attention. It usually just comes off as naff.

I try to keep to the standard on the radio and save the flights of fancy for chatting with the other crew members. Even there we have the "sterile cockpit" hemming us in for safety reasons.

8th Mar 2008, 10:08
Ok, this was meant to go along the lines of conveyer belt. Well done Floppy link! But, some interesting issues raised so I'll bite,


The basic problem is that English is a very rich language. There are many different ways to say the same thing, ways that not everyone will understand, due to their own culture, their level of language ability, their expectations of what they should hear ... this is anything but simple! The powers that be have chosen a very limited vocabulary and given the words very specific meanings because of this.

That's a great point!

I'm sure we all know what it means but there is room for misinterpretation, why take a chance? Aside from that, the phrase really gets on my nerves for some reason :*


Wasn't there a breakdown in CRM on KLM. I think the F/O had told the skip, at least twice, that they didn't have clearance for T/O.

8th Mar 2008, 10:44

Quiet correct and that is when the whole CRM thing was introduced, to aviation as a whole.

The point I was trying to make was another cue to other a/c and ATC, albeit non standard, which sayes "I'm on the roll" or I am on my why. That confirmation was not there for all to hear in that instance, certainly not for ATC or the Pan Am crew, who, if they knew what was going on sooner could have intervened or got out of the way.

Admittedly I used to use rolling also but now use standard phraseology as much as possible.

I try and practise what I preach.

8th Mar 2008, 10:49
I think the F/O had told the skip, at least twice,

It was the Flight Engineer.

8th Mar 2008, 11:52
I have used 'rolling' on as befits the occasion, although aware that it is non standard. Usually it's for the benefit of someone on finals behind me, sorry final. But really it is mostly useful at at fields without an ATC service. If you are told you may 'take off at your disgression'. That's when I tend to say rolling. If I'm cleared to take off then I simply read that back.

One term I can barely bring myself to use is 'wilco'. It just has too many jolly good show, tally ho chaps, connotations. But it's official and there to be used when neccessary.

Like, Loki I had trouble with 'affirm' when it was introduced. I much prefer 'affirmative' but they must have had a good reason for the change. Now when I watch movies with aircraft featured or science fiction set in the future and they use affirmative. Hah, they got it wrong, although I suppose 'affirmative' is still used by other non aviation radio operators.

8th Mar 2008, 12:02
Like, Loki I had trouble with 'affirm' when it was introduced. I much prefer 'affirmative' but they must have had a good reason for the change.

As I understand it :bored: the change was made because a clipped tranmission could produce only '...ative' which may be misunderstood 'under pressure'. Now, if a clipped transmission produces only '...ative' then it was 'negative' and not affirm(ative). Gerrit?

PS. I know ...... it'll only work if everyone says Affirm and Negative.

8th Mar 2008, 12:54
Aha, I see. That makes sense.

Arfur Feck-Sake
8th Mar 2008, 21:24
And why do some pilots say they're "wearing" their squawk? I can't bear that one.