Listening to LiveATC there are references by various ATC entities (towers, approach, etc) to "company". To what does this refer?


2 Answers 2


Generally when used in ATC movement instructions the word "company" means "The other aircraft operated by your company".
In this context it's a convenient shorthand for controllers and pilots: If two aircraft from the same operator are going to the same place on the airport (one may be told "Follow company"), or to assist with visual separation and sequencing on approaches.

In other cases it can mean "the airline (company) you work for" (such as being instructed to taxi to a ramp and "call company for your gate assignment" - the distinction is made based on the context of the request or instruction).

Note that this is not standard phraseology: despite being widely used the term company does not appear in the pilot/controller glossary or the Air Traffic Controller's Handbook .

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    $\begingroup$ Is it documented anywhere? $\endgroup$
    – user2168
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 16:15
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    $\begingroup$ @Articuno I haven't seen it documented, but it is common knowledge in the industry. I have even heard it used when referring to other aircraft in a flight school fleet, although that felt kind of odd. $\endgroup$
    – falstro
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 16:29
  • $\begingroup$ I've heard it too and I don't doubt your definition. I'm just wondering if it's even been written down, or talked about in an interview. Testimony from an ATCer would be ideal, but I don't think that is likely on record. $\endgroup$
    – user2168
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ I fly out of a flying club. Upon returning to home base, I have had Ground tell me to "hold for company traffic right to left on Alpha", referring to another plane in our club. Clearly the definition of "Company" is informal. $\endgroup$ Commented May 13, 2014 at 16:31
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    $\begingroup$ @RedGrittyBrick Heard it from ATC in the UK referring to a flying school trainer, so not just North America, and not just airlines. $\endgroup$
    – Roman
    Commented Jul 28, 2014 at 19:21

It means, "The same airline as you".

The typical communication is:

"Cactus 123: You are cleared to land, 31L. Following Company Traffic on a 2 mile final"

Which means:

"You are following another US Airways flight, that is currently 2 miles from the runway"

It helps the pilot identify the airplane out in front of him. For example, if he spots a Red and Blue Southwest plane, he knows he's not looking at the proper plane! He knows he needs to be looking for another US Air paint scheme.

  • $\begingroup$ So, when an emergency aircraft is attempting to 'figure out where to go" when touched down (with a low tire, but emergency services determined the plane could be moved) and the PIC is asked by Ground "do you need to call company", the pilot whips out his iPhone? $\endgroup$
    – CGCampbell
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 16:05
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    $\begingroup$ That is an entirely different context, (and outside my expertise). The PIC has a different communications channel to his company's dispatch center. (I think it is a separate radio frequency, but I'm not sure) $\endgroup$
    – abelenky
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 16:09
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    $\begingroup$ @abelenky: It can be another fm radio, shortwave radio or satellite phone and possibly other things, depending on what's going to work in given conditions. On the ground, cell phone is an option too, in the air they may not work as GSM has problems with high speeds. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 16:56

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