There is a lot of information on how the pilot should ask the ATC to repeat a statement, but is there a standard way for the ATC to ask the pilot to repeat a readback, or any new information that the pilot provides?

  • $\begingroup$ If they are busy on another frequency or on a landline, I will frequently get, “Aircraft calling Center, go ahead”. I also hear, and have occasionally gotten, “N123 Say again intentions”. It’s their way of saying that what you asked for doesn’t make sense and giving you a chance to clarify. But mostly they just didn’t catch what you said and need you to repeat it. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Jan 29 '17 at 15:04
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    $\begingroup$ @JScarry The excuse of the controller being on the landline is so common that I've heard pilots jokingly use it, too. "X Center, Say Again. I was on the landline." :) Whether ATC is amused is another question... $\endgroup$ – reirab Jan 30 '17 at 20:56

Yes, and it is exactly the same: Say again.

Station calling Georgetown Ground say again your callsign

Lufthansa 123 say again speed

Scandinavian 123 say again all after 'good morning'

Or simply

United 345 say again

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    $\begingroup$ Don't know why i thought it would be different actually, given the structured nature of communication. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – Priyank Jan 29 '17 at 8:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Priyank It's not a dumb question, since some ATC communication is asymetrical. For example, in the US, a pilot says "departure" ("ready for departure"), but the controller says "take off" ("cleared for takeoff") $\endgroup$ – Wayne Conrad Apr 2 at 18:42
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    $\begingroup$ @WayneConrad That's universal and applies to both controllers and pilots. You only say "takeoff" when giving or reading back an actual takeoff clearance. In all other cases, you refer to the takeoff as "departure" $\endgroup$ – expeditedescent Apr 2 at 19:29

In the pilot/controller glossary:


Definition: Used to request a repeat of the last transmission. Usually specifies a transmission or portion thereof not understood or received; e.g., "Say again all after ABRAM VOR."

Notice this glossary is specifically "pilot/controller" they use the same terminology. There is no separate "controller-only" and "pilot-only" glossary of ATC terminology.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm told that the background is that "repeat" was used, historically, to mean "repeat the last action I commanded", and specifically, in the days of cannon fire under command of a flagship via signal flags, to mean "shoot another volley with the same aiming as the last one". Thus a completely different way was needed to ask for a re-statement of the last message. This carried on into naval and aviation radio usage. $\endgroup$ – CCTO Apr 2 at 18:05

Controllers routinely monitor multiple frequencies and shout lines. Typically, the air-to-ground communications (pilots) is directly in a controllers ear, while landline, or shout-line communications (other controllers), are in the overhead speaker. When a controller answers the landline, the communication is reversed. The landline (controller) is now in the controller's earpiece, while the air-to-ground communication (pilot) is in the loud speaker.

We give the other controller our undivided attention to ensure proper coordination. Remember, we're often coordinating lots of numbers. We hear the pilot calling, however we typically don't retain the details clearly. Hence, we'll say we were on a landline, please say again.

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    $\begingroup$ "'hear' is what is happening" <-- ha! Great typo! Feel free to click edit to fix that up. :):) $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Apr 2 at 15:45
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Aviation.SE! I’ve edited your question a bit. If I removed any important details, please feel free to roll back to the previous version or edit them back in. $\endgroup$ – dalearn Apr 2 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ This is good and valid information, but does not actually answer the question $\endgroup$ – expeditedescent Apr 2 at 19:32

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