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Standard of RT in USA

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Standard of RT in USA

Old 17th Jul 2013, 20:29
  #201 (permalink)  
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A comment from a listener

As a non pilot but someone who has been listening to HF comms since the late 1950s and VHF since around 1963 in various parts of the world, as well as having spent many hours riding jump seats before 9/11, I've heard many different ways of delivering and reading back clearances and have been able to observe first hand the reaction of crews to non standard terminology. I've also read too many accident reports where non standard phraseology has played a part because of the confusion caused.

I spent a good few years facilitating discussions between various national ATC providers including the North Americans, regarding training and standards and have seen the way certain European providers train their own candidates, as well as those of other nations. Seeing the way training was done in the US, in the 1990s, highlighted a good number of differences in approach which came as an eye opener, even after years of listening to the usual rapid fire delivery of the graduates and watching traffic at various US airports.

From a non professional but well informed observer's point of view, standardisation and clarity should be paramount in an environment which is growing exponentially and where far greater numbers of flights are flying through a wider range of national airspaces with a variety of ATC accents, crewed far more frequently by a two man team, often almost strangers to each other and ever more frequently of differing nationalities.

I've heard some excellent and some appalling RT over the years but the worst still has to be one heard years ago in the southern US, approaching a very busy hub airport.

An airliner based at the hub was instructed to descend to 180, and turn right 20 degrees and report the heading.

If memory serves the read back was "OK, xx xxx down to south and go west.". The controller came back with two clicks of the mike button.

Fortunately such ridiculous shorthand is rare.
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Old 17th Jul 2013, 20:51
  #202 (permalink)  
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Hopefully the sports score are on the decline with the preponderance of ACARS.
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Old 17th Jul 2013, 21:03
  #203 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by Basil View Post
As we were rolling out about 90kn, ATC decided to pass us our taxi clearance at machine gun speed. I ignored the transmission until we'd cancelled reverse and then called for a repeat, remarking that it would be better to have left it until we'd finished our landing.
Talk about that!
When I'm on the DC3T some don't even wait to see our tail wheel down & rolling behind before calling (we usually set it around 60/50kts)
I would like to thanks the smarts ones who do though..
The others just get a "Say again?" when we vacate.

I knew guys who flew pistons DC3s and they all said that ATC in those time would never call, unless any kind of emergency of course, before your tail wheel was down and....More important, things under control! Tower may have been less busy then but it doesn't justify it.

Waiting for a landing to be completed before giving a radio call is a lost practice.

Last edited by ehwatezedoing; 17th Jul 2013 at 21:06.
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Old 17th Jul 2013, 21:19
  #204 (permalink)  
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Non-Standard RT is everywhere. It's the slang and/or speed of the RT that confuses pilots who are not familiar with the local accent or local slang.

Inbound for Atlanta, I heard this exchange between Jacksonville Centre and one of the local airlines -

ATC : XXXX435, can you accept FL330?

A/C : Standby

waited a little . . . .

A/C : Uuuhhhhh, yeah Jack Centre, Cap'n says we can do 3 3 oh for ya.

I don't agree that we have to be perfect in our RT at all times but that is the worst RT I've ever heard. Bypassing ICAO RT for expediency is one thing, trashy slang on a quiet frequency is just unprofessional.
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Old 17th Jul 2013, 21:37
  #205 (permalink)  
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A pet peeve of mine is reading back a clearance and ending it with the word "confirm". In the area I fly the worst offenders are pilots from India, Philippines and most of the Arab countries. One of my recent JFK flights a Royal Air Maroc was given a clearance, he read it back correctly but ended with the word "confirm". The New York controller answered him "Ya either got the clearance or ya didn't, got no time to confirm". The answer if you can't cope is to "Say Again".
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Old 17th Jul 2013, 23:01
  #206 (permalink)  
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that is the worst RT I've ever heard.
Really GB? I get that you don't like it and think it's hayseed-speak, but what part of it isn't understood?
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Old 18th Jul 2013, 02:45
  #207 (permalink)  
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Does the old ICAO school of pronouncing every digit on altimetric clearances below ten tousand feet stl prevail..."descend to seven I've zero zero feet" heard that amidst a busy controller in Nairobi
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Old 18th Jul 2013, 03:03
  #208 (permalink)  
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Whats wrong with a friendly soccer update on 123.45.....
C'mon guys chill !!!!
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Old 18th Jul 2013, 06:41
  #209 (permalink)  
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Whats wrong with a friendly soccer update on 123.45.
Because we're supposed to be professionals.

Because we are already listening to two other operational frequencies and the last thing we need is the distraction of inane chatter on a third.
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Old 18th Jul 2013, 08:54
  #210 (permalink)  
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Just for the OP..

ICAO Releases Phraseology Study Results | Aviation International News

Of 526 pilots who reported operating primarily in North America, 27 percent reported cases of non-standard phraseology, more than any other region. Of 435 European-based pilots, 22 percent reported that region as where the most problems with phraseology occurred.
So not much difference between North America and Europe.
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Old 18th Jul 2013, 09:20
  #211 (permalink)  
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The full ICAO report makes interesting reading. in the summary of the most common conditions reported by Pilots in which they identified confusion, especially when frequencies were busy, had a weak signal or static.

The lack of standardization in communications was the second most frequently mentioned condition and included reference to the use of slang, the use of a local holding area which was not on the airport diagram, improper usage of the phonetic alphabet (e.g., “Nectar” instead of “November”) and the use of call signs where ICAO standard terminology was not used. This condition was most commonly noted in communications within the US.

It's not just me.
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Old 18th Jul 2013, 09:22
  #212 (permalink)  
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I used to wonder why 'ride reports' were so frequent in the US. Then someone advised me that it was all to do with ambulance-chasing legal parasites. If an airliner captain had turned the belts signs off and they encountered a little chop, some greedy unsecured passenger might try to sue the airline....

One excellent 'ride report' I heard came from a plummy-voiced ba 747 captain:

"Speedbird XXX, it's verrrrrrrrrryy smooooooooooooth. As one would quite naturally expect!"

.....improper usage of the phonetic alphabet (e.g., “Nectar” instead of “November”)
Probably someone trying to show that he'd been flying before 1957? That was the year that 'Coca' changed to 'Charlie', 'Nectar' changed to 'November' and 'Xtra' changed to 'X-ray'.

I understand that 'Whiskey' causes issues in certain parts of the Middle East?

Last edited by BEagle; 18th Jul 2013 at 18:18.
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Old 18th Jul 2013, 11:39
  #213 (permalink)  
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Landing at Honolulu the crew was told "Next available, Ground point 9 when off". To me, sitting on the jump seat, that was blindingly obvious; take the next exit, then call Hono' Ground for taxying instructions on the VHF ground frequency which ends in .9. But no, the crew blundered off onto the next exit, then turned straight onto the taxiway without calling Ground, causing a 747 to come to rather a rapid halt, then struck up a conversation with the busy local controller...
Some 'slang' terms and phrases may very well be better than the current ICAO language, but the point is unless they are standardized, some people may not understand them, as the above example shows. Had standard phraseology been used, the crew in the example above would have known exactly what to do and which frequency to call. As it was, they weren't told whether to take a left or right exit, (I am unfamiliar with Honolulu), and they weren't told to vacate then hold position while contacting ground.

So what might be 'blindingly obvious' to one person might be totally confusing to another, and it is the latter that will cause an incident or an accident one day. That's really the point, I think.

Another point is if controllers are having to resort to their own slang and verbal shortcuts because they are so busy - then they are too busy!. They need to file a report of some kind to get more controllers for that sector or whatever needs to happen. Doing their own thing with their own invented phrases might actually be dangerous, and the one occasion when someone doesn't understand a non-standard phrase and taxis into the aircraft taking off or whatever, simply doesn't bear thinking about.

Last edited by Uplinker; 18th Jul 2013 at 11:45.
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Old 18th Jul 2013, 12:40
  #214 (permalink)  
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I'd agree with Beagle. ISTR when I last flew, about seven years ago, we
dropped the 'to' lest it be mistaken for 'two'.
Really? To each his own I suppose.* (AIM does use "should" rather than "shall" so I suppose it's not a directed format ...) but I had an idea that we were discussing standardization.

I can see why one would prefer that -- and I prefer brevity -- but is dropping the preposition in accordance with ICAO standards?
With FAA standards?
That seems to be the topic of the thread.

Last edited by Lonewolf_50; 18th Jul 2013 at 12:42.
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Old 18th Jul 2013, 15:22
  #215 (permalink)  
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Those who bemoan the ICAO phraseology probably don't realise how scientifically work out it is.

The US system leaves so much open to being misunderstood, or half heard calls that could be interpreted in different ways. I does need to change.

HOWEVER, when I fly in the USA I do my upmost to use the standard US terminology. However it would seem the US Pilots do not make the effort when outside of the USA.
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Old 18th Jul 2013, 16:53
  #216 (permalink)  
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I tried to get a look at ICAO Doc 9432 Manual of Radiotelephony but they want to charge for the privilege. I therefore presume that their ICAOships don't particularly care whether we have access to standard RT or not.
Heh. OP is rendered somewhat moot if your presumption is on track.

I am taking a peak at the 2007 version of 9432, and find the who, where what model to be badly missed in the instructions version. ICAO, IMO, collectively have it dead wrong in terms of language logic. The core sequence around which radio comms are built is
who, where, what.
Putting what before who is arse backwards. (I refer to examples and

With that said, I have heard it done that way before, and I understand how it works.

To answer the question: It does not appear that the preposition is all that important in the ICAO example responses from the aircrew.

Last edited by Lonewolf_50; 18th Jul 2013 at 17:07.
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Old 18th Jul 2013, 18:22
  #217 (permalink)  
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"xxxAir, descend to eight zero".

If you are leaving FL320 in a nation with a 6000ft TA, does that mean descend to FL280 or descend to FL80?
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Old 18th Jul 2013, 22:03
  #218 (permalink)  
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Where I work, the procedure when giving a level change is "climb/descend flight level 360, cross waypoint x level" . This has resulted in non english speakers climbing after said waypoint despite giving a good readback of the clearance. I would be much happier if it was "climb now" or "be level before waypoint x" or "be level by time x". Sometimes the standard RT ain't perfect
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Old 19th Jul 2013, 01:46
  #219 (permalink)  
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Not a problem in US but never had a problem internationally either in 23,000 hrs of flying. I think it is over stated since no one else has had a problem either.
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Old 19th Jul 2013, 01:51
  #220 (permalink)  
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No controller in the US says to descend to 80 or any other country I have flown into. Where did you fly?
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