I would like to "train my ear" for RT communications and I tried to listen to approach of Dublin's Airport. I simply can't understand more than 50% words because of loud background whistle and poor (quiet) sound quality, although the mp3 player shows 320 kbps. Do they sound just like that in real life too?

Is there anything else with better quality than LiveATC? I would like to get accustomed with ICAO phraseology, so US airports will not suit my needs.

Thanks for taking time to reply!

  • $\begingroup$ US and UK airports should be using 99% of the same phraseology. You can read the FAA pilot/controller glossary if you want to know the differences but it is very few. I'd start with a lower volume airport, don't just jump into major hubs. Pilots use short hand and talk very fast, it isn't good for training. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Mar 23, 2017 at 12:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer At the GA level it's really not 99%. I've had to actively try and avoid USA RT while training because the differences while relatively small are quite confusing as a newbie. $\endgroup$
    – Dan
    Mar 23, 2017 at 12:08
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    $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer Dan is right, especially the VFR phraseology (but not only) is really different in europe and the US. If we just take the IFR clearance into consideration the differences are huge $\endgroup$
    – pcfreakxx
    Mar 23, 2017 at 13:06
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    $\begingroup$ What does "RT" stand for? $\endgroup$
    – Steve Kuo
    Mar 23, 2017 at 15:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Steve Kuo: Radio Telephony $\endgroup$
    – Emile
    Mar 23, 2017 at 15:42

1 Answer 1


The loud whistling and popping has to do with the equipment that the person monitoring the frequency is using in addition to the range they are from the airport.

Depending on local law you could purchase a receiver capable of receiving those frequencies yourself directly. Under some conditions however transmissions may sound like that because they are AM and subject to whatever interference is on the air at the time.

When you are in an aircraft you are subject to less interference because there are no objects between you and the transmitter. The frequencies you need to be able to receive are 118.000 Mhz to 136.975 Mhz AM mode for civil aviation.

Even if you are not directly near a major airport there is likely controlled airspace near you that you can check by looking at a sectional for your area. That will have the frequencies in use by your local airports. Then you can listen to controllers with your local accent. Once you know the words you'll be able to pick them out of the LiveATC feed better.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Depending on local law for example: I understand that monitoring of aviation band radio in the UK is generally illegal. Additionally, 108.000-117.975 MHz are generally reserved for navigation signals, and will have very little voice transmission. 118.000 to 136.975 MHz are generally used for air/ground comms. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Mar 23, 2017 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ @JonathanWalters I knew that was the band split in the US but I don't know what it is in the UK. And the UK legal was exactly what I was thinking about when I mentioned local law. Ireland however may be different. And I'm not sure about other countries in Europe so that is definitely a per country thing that needs to be checked. You are technically not free and clear to listen to everything in the United States either, for instance it is a felony to use a radio scanner when committing a crime. $\endgroup$ Mar 24, 2017 at 14:41
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    $\begingroup$ @RowanHawkins, the band is split the same way everywhere. The COMM radios can only tune 118.000 to 136.975 and the NAV/ILS radios can only tune 108.00 to 117.95. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Mar 28, 2017 at 16:41
  • $\begingroup$ One big difference between US and standard IACO terminology is how to declare an emergency. Pan pan pan vs mayday mayday. $\endgroup$ Apr 1, 2017 at 4:54
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    $\begingroup$ @RowanHawkins Both the distress call (3 x PAN PAN) and the emergency call (3 x MAYDAY) exist in both countries. They do NOT mean the same, PAN PAN just states that you experience problems which do not bring aircraft and people on board in immediate danger (could also be a car accident which you observe below you). MAYDAY states that your aicraft and/or crew are in danger and immediate assitance is required. $\endgroup$
    – pcfreakxx
    Apr 1, 2017 at 11:20

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