PPRuNe Forums

PPRuNe Forums (https://www.pprune.org/)
-   Rumours & News (https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news-13/)
-   -   Standard of RT in USA (https://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/518923-standard-rt-usa.html)

deefer dog 11th Jul 2013 23:34

Standard of RT in USA
I know thesis likely to be a contentious thread, but the standard of American RT has been raised a few times in the SFO crash thread.

I have no idea if the USA has filed ICAO differences in respect of their ATC RT comms, but either way 50% of what they speak bears absolutely no resemblance to the norms around the rest of the world, or ICAO.

It amazes me how non English speakers can grasp what is actually meant when so many non standard or slang abbreviations are used. A few of the worlds busiest airports are located outside of America and yet they manage to communicate without the use of non standard slang, so, in the interests of safety, isn't it about time this issue was addressed?

Ready for incoming flack!

Wizofoz 11th Jul 2013 23:42


You mean "Outa thirteen point seven for three five oh, two sixty one seven comin' down" Isn't ICAO standard?

Big Pistons Forever 11th Jul 2013 23:50

Fact 1: On any given day there is more airliners flying in North America than anywhere else in the world.

Fact 2: North American airlines have the lowest accident rate anywhere

Maybe it is time for European operators, especially the British ones, to realize their culture of arrogance and self righteousness makes them incapable of learning from others

As for whose ATC works better, well I will take US ATC over the screwed up, inefficient, Balkanized mess that is Euro Control, any day :rolleyes:

DooblerChina 12th Jul 2013 00:01

non ICAO maybe but perfectly legible. Id much rather read back "twent eight sixty" as opposed to "one two eight decimal six zero"

bubbers44 12th Jul 2013 00:02

We live here and like it. Had a flight into TGU Honduras once and our AA flight, a 757' was put in a hold at the FAF so they could let a Spanish speaking prop plane fly through our holding pattern at our holding altitude in the clouds. Of course we couldn't understand what they were saying so realizing by TCAS we were joining up with them at the fix in non radar turned away from our clearance to avoid a conflict.

Which is worse? A midair because of not using the international language for ATC or a bit of local slang? Out of 16.5 for 350 pales vs a midair.

Oxidant 12th Jul 2013 00:09

Fact 1: On any given day there is more airliners flying in North America than anywhere else in the world.

Fact 2: North American airlines have the lowest accident rate anywhere

Maybe it is time for European operators, especially the British ones, to realize their culture of arrogance and self righteousness makes them incapable of learning from others

As for whose ATC works better, well I will take US ATC over the screwed up, inefficient, Balkanized mess that is Euro Control, any day

Big Pistons Forever is online now Report Post
Now, now, you forgot the Australians & the French........:E

Crabman 12th Jul 2013 00:10

"I have no idea if the USA has filed ICAO differences in respect of their ATC RT comms, ..."
ICAO?? ICAO??? We don't need no stinkin' ICAO!

reynoldsno1 12th Jul 2013 00:15

...bbbbut the Convention was held in, err, Chicago ....

Dushan 12th Jul 2013 00:15

Originally Posted by Big Pistons Forever (Post 7936013)
Fact 1: On any given day there is more airplanes flying in North America than anywhere else in the world.

There, I fixed it for you...

bubbers44 12th Jul 2013 00:19

QANTAS according to Tom Hanks but AF447 changes AF status.

West Coast 12th Jul 2013 00:25


Does the UK have any variances (or whatever the proper term is) from ICAO standard phraseology? I've seen this discussed and I believe the answer was yes. Perhaps you should focus your efforts on your own countries procedures and RT before you worry about anyone else.

neville_nobody 12th Jul 2013 00:28

The US system is about making it work rather than following to the letter the musings of some ICAO RT sub comittee. When you have the sheer volume of traffic that the US has on frequency at times the whole ICAO proceedures dont actually work as they are to verbose. As said before it's not like they are banging in airliners all that often. In recent times I have heard even domestic Australian pilots breakout the US RT proceedures when frequencies get congested. Seems to work much better!:}

con-pilot 12th Jul 2013 00:36

It seems that about every other year or so, someone starts a thread about how terrible the US ATC system's language use is.

Well, the FAA is slowly changing it more in compliance with ICAO standards. Not because of 99 percent of the air traffic that is in US airspace everyday, but for the one percent of foreign crews that fly in US airspace, domestically, on any given day. The Pacific region of Oakland Center would be an exception, as it controls nearly the entire North Pacific airspace from California to Japan, China and the Philippines.

So sorry, learn to live with it. We are doing a lot more to change than anyone else is.

Also, with my experience in international flying, which is considerable, the US still has the best ATC system and controllers. With London ATC a very close second.

As for Euro Control, what a joke that is. Until there is a single ATC system in Europe, it is still in the dark ages of aviation.

Now awaiting for incoming. ;)

deefer dog 12th Jul 2013 00:38

West Coast, yes, the UK has filed differences. Not many, but one or two. All member states are quite entitled to file differences, that is the way the system works so that all users of it know what to expect, and what different phrases actually mean when heard depending on where they operate around the world.

The point I am making is simply this. In the US the phraseology is completely non standard to that agreed in the convention and bears no relationship to any differences filed. Whichever way you look at it, and as painful as it may feel, your system of not complying with agreed conventions increases the likelihood of confusion, especially when operators whose native language is not English have to disseminate slang. Confusion in a busy ATC environment is not what any of us want.

Put simply, if you sign up and agree to a convention, why not honour it?

HPSOV L 12th Jul 2013 00:41

American ATC is great for Americans. And the place is so big they (understandably) don't see any point in adjusting for the rest of the world. Of course this is a problem for the rest of the world when they come to visit, or receive visits for that matter.:p

jackstraw 12th Jul 2013 00:42

Neville, good point.
I can't speak to flying in the UK but, down under, they certainly aren't immune to straying from ICAO or even the English language...(i.e., "shock" intersection.) Did someone steal the r's from the Ausssie controllers? Just kidding really but, if you're not from the USA, don't think for a moment that we have the market cornered on colloquialisms.

neilki 12th Jul 2013 00:44

Qantas never crashed
In the interests of accuracy, Phraseology & Hollywood et al, i think you'll find it was Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man who would only fly Queensland & Northern Territory Air Services...:D

Lord Spandex Masher 12th Jul 2013 00:46

Originally Posted by con-pilot (Post 7936076)
We are doing a lot more to change than anyone else is.

Perhaps because you need to?

Your gash RT might also explain why 99% of Americans find it hard to understand correct RT and simple English terms like:

"American # direct Romeo Lima Papa"
"Eeerrrrrr say again"
"Direct Romeo Lima Papa"
"Errrrr how do you spell that?"
"Okay maaaaam direct Vesan"

Heard today.

West Coast 12th Jul 2013 00:50

I like it deefer, you admit the UK has differences from the ICAO standard, yet you glaze over that to bitch about the US despite it having the most traffic. Work on your own country. When it moves as much traffic as the US, then talk to me. The UK last I checked didn't even crack the top 10 as far as busiest airports as measured in aircraft operations. France has busier airports.

Fix your own before you feel entitled to complain about the one that moves the most.

West Coast 12th Jul 2013 00:55


I've heard speed bird among other euro carriers dork up clearances in the US many times, even the most basic ones at a straight forward airport like LAX. Get off your high horse.

Lord Spandex Masher 12th Jul 2013 00:56

Probably because of gash American ATC RT?

galaxy flyer 12th Jul 2013 00:58

Maybe if the ATCO just said "American xx, cleared direct Rolampont" it would have understood. :ugh:

Lord Spandex Masher 12th Jul 2013 00:59

She tried that first. :ugh:

despegue 12th Jul 2013 01:21

As long as the USA is part of ICAO, they should ADHERE to the STANDARD ICAO Phraseology or ask for OFFICIAL ICAO published amendments.
Don't like it Yanks? Then get the hell out of ICAO.

American Carriers ATC is absolutely horrible out of their own country. They do not want or know how to communicate in standard calls, do not understand standard instructions, even when told in very clear aviation English.

In the USA, Unless there is an OFFICIAL ICAO amendment, ATC HAS TO comply with standars ICAO phraseology, and especially so when dealing with International traffic. All the moaning about some carriers not having a clue what is said by atc in JFK, ORD, etc. is mostly NOT because of poor ATC disipline by the crews but by American controllers who do not get it that they are dealing with crews that are not local. speak slower, cut the slang and start being Professional!

And for those who think that Eurocontrol is in the Middle ages... on the contrary...US ATC is twenty years behind the equipment that most European ATC centres have, especially Eurocontrol, which has the most modern equipment in the World, together with Langen and Munchen. So get your facts right.

con-pilot 12th Jul 2013 01:33

What's hard to pick up about "Romeo Lima Papa"? And then how do you get a five letter waypoint from three letters? Surely if everyone else can understand it...
It is when a French controller says it.

So sorry LSM, we really don't care what you think about our ATC system, it is still the best. Fix your own house before bitching about ours.

Actually don't, as London is close to the US when comes to the best and they are more like the US than any other country.

As one BA captain posted on the same subject a few years ago, paraphrased of course; 'Say what you like about the US ATC system, but when inbound to Los Angles from London and on the first radar contact with the US, we're cleared direct to the gate for the LAX arrival, from all the way across the county, speaks volumes'.

ph-sbe 12th Jul 2013 01:43

I know that as a PPL'er I'm not considered a professional pilot, but still my 2 cents:

I moved to the US a couple of years ago and it took me about 4 months to get used to the local RT (mind you, I live in the Bay Area). Especially in the SFO class Bravo things tend to go very fast and for a non-native English speaker, that can be challenging.

Having that said, I do find the local RT to be much more efficient, and the deviation from ICAO RT isn't spectacular. Perhaps that's just because I'm a low-level VFR only fly on your windscreens, but I kind of like it.

despegue 12th Jul 2013 01:45

In fact, French controllers are mostly using better AVIATION ENGLISH then the American collegeagues. Note the words AVIATION ENGLISH. it has nothing to do with everyday speak. aviation English is an International way of communication based on English words, spoken in a neutral way so to be as clear and concise as possible for all users.
Something the Americans have no clue about in general.

West Coast 12th Jul 2013 01:49

I thought for a moment you were serious about having a conversation till the last blatant generalization.

1Charlie 12th Jul 2013 01:50

Why do UK ATC say "descend on the glide" instead of cleared ILS approach? That's not an ICAO phrase is it?

What the US do well is Airports. Being cleared straight to the gate is much easier if you have twice the runways as Heathrow but nowhere near twice the traffic.

*Lancer* 12th Jul 2013 02:13

No individual uses perfect ICAO phraseology, and different countries have introduced their own little non-standard variations.

The use of "fully ready" or "fully established" at Heathrow might have a purpose, but everywhere else it's just annoying.

It can be genuinely hard flying in the states without having 'adjusted' to their radio technique, but - like the French or the Chinese - that's just the culture. It does seem to spite the concept of 'standard' phraseology, and would be exceedingly difficult for a non-English speaker to follow.

It also gets a little frustrating listening to American pilots using their style overseas with some poor Japanese or Singaporean (and they're the good ones) controller who has no idea what the aircraft is carrying on about.

BenThere 12th Jul 2013 02:18

I sincerely make every effort to speak standardized, by the book radio transmissions. "Passing one zero thousand for one three thousand", for example.

It's a good system, and the vocabulary of standardized ATC words is really quite small. Never say, "Lookin' for lower" but the correct, "Request descent".

Some time ago, I was furloughed from my US airline job and worked for five years, mostly in Europe, but a lot of Asia and the Middle East. It was so nice to come back home to US ATC's and native English speakers.

galaxy flyer 12th Jul 2013 02:34

One thing lost in willy-waving is that a US pilot could fly a long and happy career flying, airliners, corporate jets or ag planes, and never leave the US and, perhaps, Canada. In Europe, such "provincialism" is impossible, you HAVE to deal with non-native English speakers. That's why Aviation English was invented. The FAA Airman's Information Manual has all the correct Aviation English, it's just isn't required on a daily basis and habits die hard.

I agree US pilots sound terrible in Europe and overseas, in general.

Yankee Whisky 12th Jul 2013 02:36

Standard of RT in USA
You'll find that in any system where people communicate, a "slang" or abbreviated style develops.
I flew an airplane for many years and instead of referring every x'mission to "Charly Golf Golf Delta Uniform" I only used it in the initial contact with local
ATC and later on this became "Delta Uniform" in further x'missions with the same terminal operator. Professionals in the Air Force, where I spent some time also developed a shorthand "slang" ,which we all understood.
In International traffic understandable language, of course, becomes more critical and we should use clear and concise English language and terminology. That at least is common curtsey and mostly enables a pilot who has only learned standard phrases in the English language a fighting chance to understand the instruction correctly (particularly on VHF !). To insist on using one language in all air communications everywhere in the world seems to run into political problems of nationalism etc and cannot be expected to be resolved any time soon and leaves the door open to misunderstandings about traffic situations in the air and on the ground:bored:

con-pilot 12th Jul 2013 02:40

I sincerely make every effort to speak standardized, by the book radio transmissions. "Passing one zero thousand for one three thousand", for example.
I do, err did, as well. In corporate aviation, the hardest thing that I had trouble with, was teaching my fellow US pilots to use 'November' rather than 'Gulfstream/Boeing/Falcon/etc as is used in the US, when flying international.

In the US the traffic level is so high as compared to anywhere else in the world, including London, the controllers prefer to immediately know what type of aircraft they are dealing with. So that is why the aircraft type is used instead of 'November'.

JeroenC 12th Jul 2013 07:57

Standard of RT in USA
The issue is not if US ATC is better or not. It's ONLY about the fact they've signed up to ICAO but didn't file differences.
The annoying "descent with the glide" was filed, IIRC.

Claybird 12th Jul 2013 08:27

Some of the problems:

- Insufficient knowledge of the English language by airline pilots who are not native speakers of the English language.

In the past, many new international-flying pilots had to learn the hard way; one example: let the rookie figure out himself the HF clearance to train his aural sensory functions (while you, of course, as more seasoned, also wrote down their instructions as a redundancy).

- Use of lingo by American ATC (due to habit) and/or a very fast speech pattern some foreign crews, especially from Asia, have trouble catching up to.

Also, don't forget that some ATC in large international hubs have moved there from airports handling mostly domestic traffic, and thus far were dealing with native speakers of the English language and it's not easy for them to 'dumb down' their pace.

Sometimes I feel bad about foreign crews having to deal with ORD controllers. JFK and a few other airports should be the same.

But anyone who has ever flown into Tokyo, or Bangkok and a few other places could most probably voice similar concerns about ATC performance, based on his/her own viewpoint, of course.

And finally, let's not forget that US ATC, especially in international hubs, is doing a fantastic job pushing tin - yes, many pilots have bemoaned about some of their tactics (myself included) and US ATC are not immune to criticism, but I think they rank at the top, with London and Frankfurt a very, very close second and third respectivelly.

Contacttower 12th Jul 2013 08:27

As much as I love flying in the USA I cannot help thinking that the posters claiming that it has the "best ATC in the world" and that others should sort their own problems out first are being unnessarily defensive.

This is not meant to be a "my ATC is better than yours" competition I think people are just voicing a genuine concern at something that a lot of foreigners flying in the US have picked up on. I am not saying our system does not have its own non standard phrases (cleared to glide and FL one hundred anyone?) but honestly the standard of RT in the US does leave a lot to be desired...

My biggest observation is that new pilots are not taught in a standardised fashion exactly what to say at different phases of flight, they just seem to pick it up as they go along. There is no RT test and as a consequence people just seem to develop their own way of saying things for no particular good reason.

This is mainly aimed at the pilots because in general the standard of controlling and controller use of correct terminology is very good in the US.

Locked door 12th Jul 2013 08:31

Big Pistons Forever.

Your 'facts' are typical guff spouted by someone with no experience of the outside world.

North American Airlines are far from the safest, a random google search pulled up this

Top 10: Safest Airlines - AskMen

And this

World's Safest Airlines- Page 2 - Articles | Travel + Leisure

You have a classic case of arrogance brought on by ignorance. But there will be no telling you because of the above qualities.

Cows getting bigger 12th Jul 2013 08:48

I must admit, when entering US airspace I have to consciously take-off my ICAO RT hat and replace with an American one. That said, it isn't too difficult as long as the controllers speak at a reasonable speed. However, the incessant machine-gun type delivery is often completely unnecessary.

I think someone has already said it - sign up to ICAO and play in accordance with SARPs or file a difference. Alternatively, ignore what you have signed-up to and incur the wrath of ppruners. :)

kcockayne 12th Jul 2013 09:12

Standard of RT in USA
No particular complaint about US RT, but shouldn't it be best if EVERYONE used an internationallly agreed & accepted Standard RT format ?

Having said that, I must admit to using non-standard myself, on occasion, BUT, very sparingly in my defence!

All times are GMT. The time now is 13:12.

Copyright © 2023 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.