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Having recently completed my first solo flight, the tower gave me my taxi instructions, and then congratulated me, as my instructor was hanging out in the tower with the controllers at the time.

It's relatively busy airspace, so there were quite a few pilots on frequency, and multiple landing at the same time. However, before I could repeat/confirm my taxi instructions, a half dozen other pilots got on frequency congratulating me as the "new-blood". Seeing as this took about 30 seconds, it delayed my taxi readback, and potentially delayed other pilots approaching.

Controllers were fine with it, so it seemed, but I would assume that in certain situations this could be considered abuse of airport communications. Are there any guidelines for when the tower has to / should report such incidents, or is it merely up to the towers discretion?

It didn't prove any large issue in my case, other than a delayed taxi, but I'm wondering where the "line" would be drawn.

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    $\begingroup$ Related, and congratulations on your solo! $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Aug 9 '17 at 13:33
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    $\begingroup$ Pondlife - That's a very good read, and thanks! $\endgroup$ – WillSimon Aug 9 '17 at 13:43
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    $\begingroup$ You should be writing down your clearances on your kneeboard. Most pilots develop a short hand for this, don't rely on your memory. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Aug 9 '17 at 14:21
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    $\begingroup$ I was on the runway when he gave the instructions, but but by the time I was able to readback, I had been clear of the runway and holding for about 20 seconds. $\endgroup$ – WillSimon Aug 9 '17 at 15:31
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    $\begingroup$ @WillSimon you did good. Exit and hold clear of the runway if you didn't hear the full clearance. Then bask in the glory of your achievement and congratulatory calls for a few seconds, then when you have a chance, ask tower to say again. $\endgroup$ – Devil07 Aug 9 '17 at 18:08
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Since you have not stated any jurisdiction in your question, I am basing this answer on the EU, which is what I am familiar with. Rules in many other parts of the world are going to be similar if not nearly identical.

Regulation EU 376/2014 lays down rules on the reporting, analysis and follow-up of occurrences in civil aviation. On the list of Mandatory Reporting you will find:

(v) communication-related occurrences;

which I think, among the possible categories, would be the best fit for the kind of event you describe. However, it is not detailed further what is encompassed by this category, so whether something like what you describe falls under mandatory reporting, I don't know for sure. In theory, rules were violated (unrelated chatter on the radio is, quite simply, not allowed). In practise, it doesn't sound like any harm was done.

In any case, there is also Voluntary Reporting, which is designed to capture

(a) details of occurrences that may not be captured by the mandatory reporting system;

(b) other safety-related information which is perceived by the reporter as an actual or potential hazard to aviation safety.

The rules concerning reporting can be quite difficult to comprehend; my general advice (and what I have learned at school) is: if in doubt, file a report. If you feel the safe environment was in any way compromised, you should report it. Remember, the aim of a report is not to appoint blame, but rather to improve safety. I know from experience that it might be difficult to report something done by someone you know, since it might feel like you are pointing fingers or ratting someone out, but the truth is that the reason aviation is so safe, is because the people who work with aviation takes safety seriously, and reports violations.

As for whether the controller is going to report your situation, I doubt it - they is the one who initiated in the first place after all. But again, if you feel safety was violated, please write a report. Your writing today may save lives tomorrow.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was more focused on US side of things, but it seems like there is a lot of crossover between US and EU air laws. $\endgroup$ – WillSimon Aug 9 '17 at 18:04
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ATC communication priority on "Tower" Frequency:

If you were flying in the US:

  1. ATC

  2. Aircraft exceeding 31.44m in length (103ft, 2inch)

  3. All of the smaller aircraft

  4. On-ground vehicles

In all of the EU Airports:

  1. ATC

  2. Aircraft (No matter what size or load they are carrying)

  3. All other On-Ground Vehicles

In your Case, If you were flying in Europe You should have been fine. There is no such rule about aircraft priorities in the EU airspace.

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    $\begingroup$ The question was: "Are there any guidelines for when the tower has to / should report such incidents, or is it merely up to the towers discretion?" The information you gave here doesn't seem to answer the question at all. Are you saying that in the United States, the reporting requirements depend on the size of the aircraft involved? $\endgroup$ – Terran Swett Sep 6 '17 at 20:44

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