# What is the correct way for pilots to say the time?

While listening to Air Crash Investigations, the pilots used the 24-hour format in a different way than we do.

Example: 07:57 hrs would be said as oh-seven-five-seven hours (which makes it a little confusing as one might think of them as co-ordinates) instead of saying 7-hundred and 57 hours.

What is the correct way for pilots to say the time?

• What are there hundreds of? Minutes? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 17 '19 at 17:32
• @Harper-ReinstateMonica It is the hours as in 7 hours and 57 minutes – Valay_17 Nov 18 '19 at 3:20
• Even outside of aviation, most people would only say "oh-7-hundred" for 0700, where the "hundred" represents the double zero. I've never heard anyone add minutes after the "hundred". – Robin Bennett Nov 18 '19 at 9:04
• @Harper-ReinstateMonica - and Robin - surprising you haven't heard that one; it's pretty common, I think, to use the word "hundred" as the "hours marker", even if there is then a minutes (so in reality there's nothing that "looks like a one hundred"). I guess it's sort of vaguely "military style"? If you think of it as a "mistake" it seems to be common – Fattie Nov 18 '19 at 12:43
• Like @RobinBennett says, I have literally never heard anyone say 24-hour time as "seven hundred and fifty seven hours". It would be "oh seven fifty seven" or "zero seven fifty seven", hundred is only ever used for the start of the hour as "oh seven hundred" or "zero seven hundred" – dkwarr87 Nov 19 '19 at 17:00

"Zero seven five seven" is the correct way to state the time, pronouncing each digit separately per the table below.

Aircraft call signs are sometimes grouped instead of annunciating each digit, for example United 6330 would be "sixty three thirty" instead of "six three three zero". Otherwise, headings, time, coordinates, and all other numbers used in aviation radio communication are generally spoken individually, digit by digit.

It is important to note that in aviation the need for clarity overrides common English usage. For example, while it is common to pronounce the number zero as "oh" in the everyday world, aviators are taught that zero and O are distinctly different: One is a number, and the other is a letter of the alphabet. They should never be substituted for one another, or used in the wrong context.

Finally, the example you offered is incorrect because it isn't "seven hundred and fifty seven hours", past time zero, rather it is "seven hours and fifty seven minutes". (Except it isn't said like that...)

• "Aircraft call signs are sometimes grouped instead of annunciating each digit, for example United 6330 would be "sixty three thirty" instead of "six three three zero"." Maybe in FAA-land, but not in the rest of the world! – expeditedescent Nov 18 '19 at 9:08
• Shouldn't it be "fife"? – Harper - Reinstate Monica Nov 18 '19 at 16:00
• In practice, do pilots literally pronounce numbers as in that table above? It's Tree like the plant and Fife like the instrument? I've heard "niner", but haven't noticed "tree, fow-er, fife". – JPhi1618 Nov 18 '19 at 17:02
• Actual pronunciation depends on radio reception. The short answer is no, for 95% of VHF radio transmissions pilots will say the numbers conversationally like everyone else. The exception is that nine is pretty much always "niner". (and zero is never "oh"...) It is when transmission is weak or garbled that speaking needs to slow down, and each digit enunciated in a exaggerated manner per the table above to ensure effective communication. This can often be necessary on transoceanic flights, particularly when using older HF radios. – Michael Hall Nov 19 '19 at 0:33
• Nice. (i) Is there a reference for this? (ii) I can imagine pronouncing the non-word "FOW" in more than one way, like the word "FOE" for example. (iii) Is it really "NIN" "ER"? I've only ever heard "NINE" "ER". (iv) Is it really "TOU" "SAND" like the word "SAND", or is it more like "TOU" "ZUND"? – Buster Nov 19 '19 at 17:12

When transmitting time, only the minutes of the hour are normally required. However, the hour should be included if there is any possibility of confusion. Time checks shall be given to the nearest minute and preceded by the word ‘TIME’. Co- ordinated Universal Time (UTC) is to be used at all times, unless specified. 2400 hours designates midnight, the end of the day, and 0000 hours the beginning of the day.

(From CAP 413, but most regulations across the world are almost identical)

Examples:

08:23 = "Two three" or "Zero eight two three"

13:00 = "On the hour" or "One three zero zero"

07:57 = "Five seven" or "Zero seven five seven"