Usually ATC is saying the callsign of the plane he speaks with first and then starts with the actual transmission. Pilots usually say their transmission first and end it with their callsign.

However, I somehow started to say my callsign first before every transmission. For example:


Me: Cleared for take-off runway 33, OE-CNK

How I do it:

Me: OE-CNK, cleared for take-off runway 33

  • Is this bad practice? Will it annoy the air traffic controller because he has to keep in mind my callsign for the whole transmission? Or is this not very relevant?
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ Yes, it's wrong. You should start with the station you are calling first, whether ground or air. "Lazytown tower, Bigfly31, request screaming landing followed by rapid taxi". $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 17:37
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ And whatever you do, don't mix up the protocol with this guy! $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 18:50
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @TomMcW The Monterey Controller is doing a great job following the rules. On the other hand, some of the pilots could use some remedial radio training. $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 20:56
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @JScarry He's giving them their training:) Although he's definitely in the right, I'd bet in school that guy had a perpetual "kick me" sign on his back $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 20:59
  • $\begingroup$ @TomMcW But: "Audiatur et altera pars" - Seneca. The title of the video could also be "[FUNNY ATC] CARELESS PILOTS at Monterey MRY". $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2017 at 14:56

2 Answers 2


It depends on the country where you are flying, and also what the message is.

For example in the UK according to CAP 413 Chapter 2, section 2.48:


Ground to Air: Aircraft callsign – message or reply.

Air to Ground:

  1. Initiation of new information/request etc. – Aircraft callsign then message;

  2. Reply – Repeat of pertinent information/readback/acknowledgement then aircraft callsign.

In Germany the normal procedure is to start a message with the call sign, a reply may have the call sign at the end. From the AIP, GEN section 3.4-9:

6.1 Procedures for Radio Communications


(4) The call sign shall be transmitted at the beginning of a message. A direct answer to a message may be terminated by the call sign instead.


In the United States, the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual, section 4–2 "Radio Communications Phraseology and Techniques," states the following (emphasis in original):

4–2–3 a Initial Contact.

The terms initial contact or initial callup means the first radio call you make to a given facility or the first call to a different controller or FSS specialist within a facility. Use the following format:

  • Name of the facility being called;
  • Your full aircraft identification as filed in the flight plan or as discussed in paragraph 4-2-4, Aircraft Call Signs;
  • When operating on an airport surface, state your position.
  • The type of message to follow or your request if it is short; and
  • The word “Over” if required.

So on initial callup you should state the facility being called followed immediately by your callsign.

Then later in the section (emphasis mine):

4–2–3 c Subsequent Contacts and Responses to Callup from a Ground Facility.

Use the same format as used for the initial contact [...] The ground station name and the word “Over” may be omitted [...] Acknowledge with your aircraft identification, either at the beginning or at the end of your transmission, and one of the words “Wilco,” “Roger,” “Affirmative,” “Negative,” or other appropriate remarks [...]

Thus the proper procedure is:

  • Use your callsign at the beginning of any subsequent transmission (e.g. a request or report), but
  • When acknowledging an instruction (such as a takeoff clearance) you may use your callsign before or after the acknowledgement.

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