I'm working on some translations and want to make sure that I'm not making things up with the radio communications.

Here are a few sentences I would appreciate help with. Bold font indicates areas I'm particularly unsure about (for example, places where I'm not completely sure what the original text means, and am not sure how best to translate).

  1. [FLIGHT #], taxi out, runway 2R, turn right heading 090 for takeoff.
  2. [FLIGHT #], radar contact, ETUDE-10 for takeoff, climb and maintain at 2200 meters, QNH 998.
  3. [FLIGHT #], radar contact, VAK01 approach, runway 17L, descend and maintain at 3600.
  4. Maintain heading 030 at 1500 height. Please confirm intentions.

Also, are there any recommendations for resources on this? I know there are recordings of ATC communications, but are there any written sources such as transcripts?

Thank you for any help!

Edit: Here are some ATC recordings with captions I found for airports in China -

Are ATC communications in China in a different format from those most commonly used elsewhere?

  • $\begingroup$ It would help if you provided the country so that a reader can compare it to required phraseology. In the US we don't use meters, but maybe other countries do. $\endgroup$
    – RetiredATC
    Aug 22, 2022 at 22:03
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ None of those sound remotely like ATC communication in the US. Somewhere else, maybe. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Aug 22, 2022 at 22:31
  • $\begingroup$ @RetiredATC These are translations of what I believe were intended to be ATC communications in China. $\endgroup$
    – Pearl6527
    Aug 22, 2022 at 22:57
  • $\begingroup$ In the US, we would generally use “altitude” in lieu of “height” but that may be an artifact of your translation. In most ATC communications the world “altitude” isn’t even used, “At or below five thousand” is implicitly altitude. Also, QNH has not been used in the US prbably since the time when navigator were last sent route information by Morse code. There may be some countries still using it in lieu of “Altimeter.” And in the US, altitudes would be feet, not meters. $\endgroup$
    – Max R
    Aug 23, 2022 at 0:29
  • $\begingroup$ If your goal is to capture the technical details of the communication, (I.e. content)it is likely you have succeeded already. If for some reason you want to make a perfect conversion over to standard phraseology in the US, then you have more work to do. $\endgroup$ Aug 23, 2022 at 1:19

2 Answers 2


NTSB accident reports typically include printed transcripts of the CVR recordings, which include edited transcripts of the radio traffic. While these transcripts aren't comprehensive (they omit lots of radio traffic that doesn't concern the accident aircraft and doesn't shed any light on the accident), they give a good flavor of what actual radio traffic typically sounds like.

The limitation is, nearly all of the transcripts are from US ATC. Accident reports from other countries may contain similar transcripts that will give more flavor for their particular region.

As noted in my comment, none of the statements posted in the OP read much like any sort of ATC traffic in the US. For another region, they may be much closer.

  • $\begingroup$ Hmm I see. Thank you for the pointer! $\endgroup$
    – Pearl6527
    Aug 22, 2022 at 22:59
  • $\begingroup$ It’s doubtful any other jurisdiction would say these things either. Several are just completely out of order and the rest don’t use recognized phraseology. $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Aug 23, 2022 at 1:10

[FLIGHT #], taxi out, runway 2R, turn right heading 090 for takeoff.

This one is a little confusing. I believe this is intended to be a clearance for takeoff. The "taxi out" part isn't standard phraseology, but if I heard it, I would interpret it as instructions to "line up and wait" (i.e. go out on the runway, but not take off yet).* On the other hand, you're never supposed to use the word "takeoff" except in an actual clearance for takeoff. Also, you'd never give a heading instruction until the plane is actually ready to go.

If ATC wasn't intending for the plane to take off just yet, I would expect something like "[FLIGHT #], runway 2R, line up and wait" or "[FLIGHT #], runway 2R, position and hold" (depending on the country).

If ATC did want the plane to take off, I would expect "[FLIGHT #], right turn heading 090, Runway 2R, cleared for takeoff." The turn instructions mean that, after takeoff and once the plane has reached a safe altitude, turn right to 090 (due East).

[FLIGHT #], radar contact, ETUDE-10 for takeoff, climb and maintain at 2200 meters, QNH 998.

Aside from the "ETUDE-10 for takeoff", this is a standard phrase when a plane has just taken off, and is contacting departure control. They want the plane to climb to 2200 meters above mean sea level, and the local altimeter setting is 998.

I have no idea what "ETUDE-10 for takeoff" means. "ETUDE-10" sounds like it might be a specific departure procedure ATC wants the plane to fly, but I have no idea why they'd put "for takeoff" when the plane is already in the air at this point. Is it possible that the controllers are using the same word for "takeoff" as "departure"?

[FLIGHT #], radar contact, VAK01 approach, runway 17L, descend and maintain at 3600.

This one sounds like a pretty normal communication for a plane approaching an airport, and contacting approach control. "VAK01 approach" would be the name of the specific approach procedure that ATC wants the plane to fly. Although, I would expect a few more words, such as "fly the VAK01 approach" and "expect runway 17L".

Maintain heading 030 at 1500 height. Please confirm intentions.

This is the most normal-sounding of the four. The word "height" would normally be left off, or it would be translated "at a height of 1500". The bold section refers to a height of 1500 meters** above mean sea level.

* Well, okay, that's not exactly true. If I heard that, I would actually ask for clarification. But I'm trying to interpret this the best I can without being able to ask.

** I'm assuming meters, based on the fact that translation #2 used them, and 1500 feet would be an incredibly low altitude for most aircraft.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you so much! For the ETUDE-10 one, it is definitely possible that the word should be translated as "departure" instead of "takeoff." Would something like "ETUDE-10 for departure" make more sense? $\endgroup$
    – Pearl6527
    Aug 23, 2022 at 3:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @PinyuHwang I wouldn't expect the word "for" to be in there. The full phrase is "Fly the ETUDE-10 departure", and if the controller is rushing, they might drop the first two words, leaving just "ETUDE-10 departure". $\endgroup$ Aug 23, 2022 at 3:58
  • $\begingroup$ Okay I see. Thank you! $\endgroup$
    – Pearl6527
    Aug 23, 2022 at 4:09

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