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Is there any button which needs to be pressed when the pilot or co-pilot wishes to talk to ATC?

Normally in videos on YouTube they don't seem to be doing anything special other than speaking, but I believe that there's more to it. Probably the push buttons (like on a walkie-talkie) are located very close to their hands?

I'm generally asking about all aircraft that communicate with ATC, not any specific airliner.

Please note that I know the handshake stuff and the frequencies and the radio part of it. My question is only about whether they do or they don't have a push button when they have to send a message. It doesn't seem to be an always on thing because obviously that would clutter up the channel and ATC guys don't need to listen to what the pilots are talking in the cockpit routinely.

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There is usually a PTT (push to transmit) switch on the yoke or column, right under the pilots thumb. Press and talk, release to listen. You won't see it on a video. Imagine pressing a button on the steering wheel of your car right under your thumb. –  Simon Jul 24 '14 at 7:52
Thanks Simon, that makes sense. When the aircraft is flying on auto pilot and hands aren't necessarily on the Yoke do they still need to hold the yoke fist and press the button or there are alternate buttons too? –  Iceman Jul 24 '14 at 8:01
There is usually also a button on the control unit which does all of the audio switching and volume, often on the pedestal or console. –  Simon Jul 24 '14 at 11:13

1 Answer 1

up vote 12 down vote accepted

There is a push to talk (PTT) button located at the yoke or sidestick, in small and large aircraft likewise. When the PTT button is not triggered, all communication is routed through the intercom and not broadcasted on the frequency. Once the button is triggered, communication is broadcasted on the active frequency.

In the below picture of a glider, it is located on top of the middle stick. On the second picture is it behind the yoke, to be used with the index finger. Glider Cockpit

(Image Source: WikiPedia)

B738 Yoke

(Image Source: Private Blog)

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Thanks! and thanks for the images as well. –  Iceman Jul 24 '14 at 9:28

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