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I ran across a table of ICAO (NATO) approved phonetic number pronunciations. As early as I can remember (50+yrs) in the United States "nin-er" is the only one I ever remember hearing in aviation and I don't recall hearing it in the last 30yrs. I recall hearing "Fife" but I don't remember where - perhaps ham radio operators.

I have never heard "tree" (three), "Tousand" (thousand), or "Fower" (four). If I heard ATC say, "maintain 'climb to nin-er humndred'", I would be very surprised. And if they said, "maintain 'tree tousand'", I would think they needed retesting for ICAO English language requirements.

Is there any country, military, or agency that regularly uses the full ICAO (NATO) approved phonetic number pronunciations? Is it taught to any pilots?

enter image description here source

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    $\begingroup$ I was taught to say "fife" and "nine-er", but not "tree" or "tousand". $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Aug 14 '18 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ Where and when? $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Aug 14 '18 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ I was taught at KGRB about 5 years ago. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Aug 14 '18 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ As the answers & comments come in and we get a better international understanding, I wonder if this has anything to do with proximity to Canada (or even the east coast / regional)? $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Aug 14 '18 at 19:38
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    $\begingroup$ If you've never heard "tree", "tousand" or "fife" then you should listen to the controllers in Dublin, Ireland (EIDW) on liveatc.net some time :-) $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Aug 14 '18 at 20:31
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Is there any country, military, or agency that regularly uses the full ICAO (NATO) approved phonetic number pronunciations? Is it taught to any pilots?

Yes, pretty much every country in the world. As you mostly have experience flying in the USA, where the native language is English, you may not be used to hearing these pronunciations so much. People whose native language is English tend to pronounce words [and numbers] as they would in normal speech. In most of the world, however, English is by no means the native language, so controllers and pilots alike will use the pronunciation guidelines created by ICAO to ease understanding across multiple dialects and accents.

As an example, the Danish aviation regulations has an exact copy of the table you present in your question, and it is used by everyone.

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Aside from NIN-ER, all of these phonetics just simplify the standard English pronunciation to something easier for people who don't speak English fluently. For instance, many other languages don't have a TH sound, yet AFAIK all have a T sound. In practice, fluent speakers will generally use the standard pronunciation out of habit, or they speak so quickly you can't tell either way so it doesn't matter.

I have noticed that, at least in the US, ATC will ofter mirror incorrect phonetics. I slipped one time and checked in as NINE AIT NIN-ER, and they actually replied with that. Another (old-timer) pilot always checked in as FOUR TWO SUGAR (rather than SIERRA) and they'd go with it every time. I think I've heard them mirror FOX (no TROT) and POP (vs PAPA) too. I wouldn't recommend that sort of thing for non-fluent speakers, though.

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Anecdotally:I have personally heard and used every phonetic pronouncition on that list with the exception of 'TOUSAND'. I have been flying professionally for the past 20+ years in North and Central America as well as the Atlantic and Caribbean. So, is it still being used among ATC and pilots?. Yes. Is it widespread? That has not been my experience operating primarily near the United States. A sidenote on ZERO, I frequently hear 'ZE-RA' over the midwest U.S.

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The FAA publishes the Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge to provide a guide for pilots. In Chapter 14 (Airport Operations) it says:

ICAO has adopted a phonetic alphabet that should be used in radio communications. When communicating with ATC, pilots should use this alphabet to identify their aircraft.

The table you posted, along with the pronunciation of the phonetic alphabet, is included for reference, except the hundred and thousand entries.

FAA JO 7110.65 provides the requirements for air traffic controllers, which includes the same table.

2−4−16. ICAO PHONETICS
Use the ICAO pronunciation of numbers and individual letters.

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    $\begingroup$ My question is about it being used, not if it existed in an official capacity. At least in the United States, it does not seem to be used anymore. From 1975-1985 I owned a C-172 with the last three letters "09R". For the first few years I would occasionally hear "zero nin-er romeo". By 1985 I never heard "nin-er" anymore. $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Aug 14 '18 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ @jwzumwalt So are you just looking for everyone to post their own anecdotes? $\endgroup$ – fooot Aug 14 '18 at 20:03
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    $\begingroup$ "Is there any country, military, or agency that regularly uses..." $\endgroup$ – jwzumwalt Aug 14 '18 at 20:05
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    $\begingroup$ @jwzumwalt what's the standard of "regular use" you are looking for? $\endgroup$ – fooot Aug 14 '18 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that posting the regulations doesn't answer the question of what the actual use is. There may be a better way to answer this question than anecdotes. $\endgroup$ – Terran Swett Aug 14 '18 at 21:55

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