Questions tagged [phraseology]

For questions about standard words, phrases, and abbreviations used by pilots and ATC in aviation radio communications. (More general questions about aviation-specific words, phrases, or definitions used outside of radio communications should usually be tagged [terminology] instead.)

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Why do English-speaking pilots and ATC say "Niner" instead of "Nine"?

Besides the fact that it's now a standard, why do American-English-speaking pilots and ATC say "Niner" instead of "Nine"? None of the other numerals are pronounced in an atypical fashion. For what ...
End Anti-Semitic Hate's user avatar
58 votes
4 answers
27k views

Why do airplanes use MAYDAY when in danger but ships send SOS?

I thought SOS means "save our souls", but apparently it doesn't. But ships send SOS when in danger and they used Morse code. Why do airplanes use MAYDAY?
Squareoot's user avatar
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44 votes
2 answers
5k views

What does it mean when the controller uses the word "request"?

I recently had the opportunity to fly a PAR approach into Büchel Airbase in Germany. It was a ton of fun and I'll definitely try it again when I get the chance. However, as we were getting set up for ...
falstro's user avatar
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36 votes
7 answers
53k views

Why is the total count of people on a plane given as the number of 'souls' on board?

Why don't they just say 'people' on board, why souls? What is the origin of this term? I'm thinking it comes from sailing as I think I've heard that term in reference to crews out at sea, but I'm not ...
MDMoore313's user avatar
34 votes
4 answers
11k views

Why are there many pilots who don't say "mayday, mayday, mayday" to declare an emergency?

I've been listening to some ATC from some major commercial pilots and in every video where there's been some confusion about declaring an emergency they've used some terminology other than "mayday, ...
Clinton's user avatar
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33 votes
5 answers
26k views

What does "CC (Charlie Charlie)" mean when pilots reply to ATC?

I heard a pilot replied "CC" to ATC instruction. I can't remember the exact situation, but does anyone knows what it means?
Jihoon's user avatar
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31 votes
3 answers
74k views

"What's our vector, Victor?": What does this mean?

In Airplane there is a famous sequence: ...
Jason's user avatar
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31 votes
1 answer
7k views

Why would a pilot request that ATC dim the runway lights?

In this clip, the pilot requests dimmed runway lights. Tower, you able to reduce the runway lights, please? [Tower dims runway lights] Thank you much This seems like ...
cocomac's user avatar
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30 votes
2 answers
23k views

What does ATC mean when they refer to "company"?

Listening to LiveATC there are references by various ATC entities (towers, approach, etc) to "company". To what does this refer?
CGCampbell's user avatar
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28 votes
1 answer
3k views

At a non-towered airport in the US, what should I do if I hear a medevac flight waiting to take off while I'm turning base?

I'm in the left downwind at my favorite non-towered airport. Just while I'm making the turn to base, I hear a radio call on CTAF: "Such-and-such Traffic, Medevac 123, holding short runway 31." They ...
Tanner Swett's user avatar
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28 votes
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When should the term "pan-pan" be used instead of "Mayday"?

FAAO JO 7110.65, §10-1-1 states that "pan-pan" can be used to indicate a state of urgency: a. An emergency can be either a Distress or an Urgency condition as defined in the "Pilot/...
Danny Beckett's user avatar
27 votes
5 answers
14k views

When should a pilot use the word "takeoff?"

I've been taught before that the word "takeoff" should only be used when reading back a clearance, and that when requesting a clearance pilots should advise "ready" or "ready for departure." Here's ...
ryan1618's user avatar
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26 votes
3 answers
117k views

What do the callouts "approaching minimums" and "minimums " mean?

When landing, what exactly do the phrases "approaching minimums" and "minimums" mean in a commercial jet aircraft, when heard from the onboard cockpit voice.
garyv440's user avatar
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26 votes
1 answer
9k views

What does Top 1% mentioned by ATC refer to?

I have watched Live ATC tons of time. But I still don't know which airline is called "Top 1%". Ex: Delta 81 right Bravo right Kilo give way to company A380 and follow the Top 1%". Just wanna know ...
Sherwin's user avatar
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25 votes
1 answer
6k views

What does it mean when ATC says climb maintain 7000, block 8000?

I understand the climb and maintain, but what does block mean?
Zach W.'s user avatar
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23 votes
2 answers
7k views

Can we use MAYDAY or PAN PAN on ground?

Usually we read, on reports, aircraft reporting urgency or emergency during the flight, while airborne. But, is it correct to use these "words" on ground?
eduardoguilherme's user avatar
22 votes
4 answers
5k views

When using the phonetic alphabet, for airways, should we say Uniform or Upper?

Listening some RTs, I heard ATCos reporting airways, for example: UL65, UPPER LIMA 65. But the phonetic alphabet says UNIFORM. Why do they say like this, please? Is there any manual in which we can ...
eduardoguilherme's user avatar
21 votes
3 answers
3k views

What to do if expediting your ascent or descent is impossible/unsafe?

As a pilot of a small single engine plane, what do we do if ATC instructs us to expedite our climb/descent and doing so would be impossible or unsafe (i.e. we're already at the maximum safe rate of ...
CGCampbell's user avatar
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21 votes
4 answers
6k views

How is the ATC language structured?

Is the content of spoken communications used by air traffic control and pilots defined as part of a rigorous language definition? Such as a morphological or lexical foundational system, or is ...
jCisco's user avatar
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19 votes
3 answers
5k views

When told "call sign only" in a frequency change, how to transmit it?

For example: London Control says: BAW211 contact London Approach 118.1, call sign only. What will the pilot say to approach on 118.1? London Approach, BAW211. Or just: BAW211.
William Cat's user avatar
18 votes
2 answers
4k views

How do I know how to describe my position on the airport when I contact ATC?

When asking for taxi clearance, a pilot must include his location when contacting ATC. However, I'm not quite sure exactly how to state your position in the airport. For example, I've heard some ...
N. Bar's user avatar
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18 votes
3 answers
5k views

May I enter Class C airspace if I'm told "remain VFR"?

During a flight yesterday, the approach frequency for a local Class C was unusually busy. I was heading back to an underlying Class D and the frequency finally quieted down enough for me to poke in a ...
Greg Bacon's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
9k views

When do pilots actually use ‘wilco’?

I know it means “I have understood the instruction and will comply.” However, any instruction that is a clearance, concerns runway use or contains altitude/level, heading, speed or squawk code ...
Jan Hudec's user avatar
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18 votes
1 answer
3k views

Responding to another aircraft without knowing their radio call sign

PPL student here. I recently had someone ask over the radio if there was any traffic in the pattern (uncontrolled class G airport). I could make out everything that pilot said except for his radio ...
Chris's user avatar
  • 559
17 votes
2 answers
3k views

What does 'intercept final' exactly mean?

I work as ATC in Korea. I have question about the exact meaning of the word 'intercept'. In FAA order 7110.65, 5-9-1 vector to final approach course, "vector to intercept the final approach course", ...
user12972's user avatar
  • 371
16 votes
6 answers
7k views

What “slang” do pilots and controllers use to refer to a “hard landing”?

Aviation is an environment which pilots and controllers use various phrases "off stage" to describe things in different terms from the standard ones. How do they say (far from the mics), ...
eduardoguilherme's user avatar
16 votes
6 answers
22k views

Are "Tally-ho" and "no joy" acceptable ATC terms for civil operations?

I keep meaning to ask this question. I heard "Tally-ho" used for the first time by a pilot on Liveatc.net. I know these are pretty standard phrases in military aviation but I wondered if civil pilots ...
TomMcW's user avatar
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16 votes
3 answers
7k views

How should I request an IFR approach at the end of a VFR flight?

Here's the scenario: The flight starts night VFR, with broken ceiling at destination (class C airspace) and expected to improve according to the pre-flight abbreviated briefing. I'm IFR certified but ...
user2105469's user avatar
16 votes
1 answer
8k views

How do you open and get a IFR clearance while in the air?

I once had a traffic controller give me a hard time about how I requested IFR clearance once in the air. I had previously filed an IFR flight plan, and took off from my untowered home airport. On ...
Josh Anderson's user avatar
16 votes
1 answer
34k views

What is "clearance delivery" meant for?

I was recently having a conversation where the term "clearance delivery" popped up, and was talking about his time flying into PHX, but in all of my time flying, I've never heard of the term before! ...
Qantas 94 Heavy's user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
9k views

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 ...
Valay_17's user avatar
  • 297
15 votes
3 answers
30k views

What do I request when contacting tower of an airspace I'm transiting over?

I'm a student pilot who has just begun dual cross-country with my instructor. However, he has not been explicit when I've asked him about radio comm with tower/approach/radio during the flight. If I ...
singwukgwu's user avatar
15 votes
4 answers
11k views

How do I tell ATC that I don't have a transponder?

If my plane doesn't have a transponder and ATC tells me to squawk some transponder code, how should I respond? Is it just as simple as "I don't have a transponder"? This is for the United States and ...
birdus's user avatar
  • 926
15 votes
3 answers
22k views

What does "radar contact" mean in ATC calls?

When ATC mention 'radar contact', what does that mean? In what conditions ATC might contact you and mention 'radar contact' in the call? and what would be the appropriate responses?
pmoubed's user avatar
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15 votes
3 answers
32k views

What are the differences between "ground stop", "ground delay", and "gate hold"?

I've heard several terms referring to air traffic control procedures that restrict movement for a certain period of time: ground stop, ground delay, and gate hold (plus others I'm sure I'm forgetting ...
jrdioko's user avatar
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15 votes
1 answer
3k views

How do I request a frequency change to listen to ATIS?

If I only have one radio, and I'm using VFR Flight Following, what do I tell ATC when I want to pick up ATIS for the landing airport before I'm told to contact the tower?
Steve's user avatar
  • 151
15 votes
1 answer
3k views

What is the correct phraseology for "runway 03 R”?

What phraseology is normally used for "runway 03 R" by air-traffic control and pilots? A couple of possible options I came up with: runway zero three R runway three R runway zero three right runway ...
Lone Learner's user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
2k views

Can an issued landing clearance be replaced with "continue approach"?

Since the US handles the landing clearance differently, this is limited to Europe (EASA-land). From Eurocontrol: Continue Approach If the runway is obstructed when the aircraft reports ‘final’, but ...
user avatar
15 votes
1 answer
5k views

What does "closed traffic" mean?

I'm a Japanese ATC working in Japan. I want to ask about "closed traffic". I checked 7110.65 for this. Question 1: What is successive operation? One day I was on duty and the air force pilot ...
T.s's user avatar
  • 159
14 votes
5 answers
7k views

What is the difference between “affirm” and “acknowledged”?

Recently, I've watched Air Force One and I heard ATC and the pilots say "Acknowledged." instead of "affirm" or "affirmative" as I've learned.. Is it common to say both? ...
thisIsTheFoxe's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
2k views

How to use/be an airborne relay

There are some cases where a pilot may not be able to reach ATC directly due to lack of power or being below the radio horizon: On a handheld backup radio After a forced landing Over open water In ...
StephenS's user avatar
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14 votes
1 answer
3k views

Why do pilots say "clear of the active" at non-towered airports?

At the non-towered airport I fly at, pilots when clear of the runway always say "X Traffic, Skyhawk N123 clear of the active." Why not say the runway number? At a one-runway airport, I understand that ...
flyinghigh's user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
6k views

What does "square the base" mean?

I was flying the other day and heard tower say to another aircraft, "square the base". What does it mean, and when might a controller say this?
Jason's user avatar
  • 373
14 votes
2 answers
4k views

What is the correct phraseology for changing the runway of a landing clearance?

In the liveATC clip on this YouTube video, an American Airlines 767 arriving at SFO (San Francisco International) had been cleared to land on 28R, but, apparently while already on final, was told to ...
reirab's user avatar
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13 votes
3 answers
525 views

Is "Pull up and be ready" standard phraseology?

I was next in line (making IFR departure) just after a Bonanza departed, with about a dozen aircraft behind me. Tower called my number and said "pull up and be ready". I'm accustomed to "line up and ...
Thomas Koop's user avatar
13 votes
4 answers
2k views

How should the crew callout 1,000 ft. prior to assigned altitude?

When climbing or descending in a multi-crew cockpit, most SOP's require a verbal callout at 1,000 ft. prior to the assigned altitude. I typically hear different callouts by different people: "One ...
Lnafziger's user avatar
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12 votes
5 answers
4k views

Is "Tally-Ho" used in ATC radio communication, specifically in the UK?

This question Are "Tally-ho" and "no joy" acceptable ATC terms for civil operations? concerns the use of the phrase "Tally Ho" to mean "target in sight" in civilian air-traffic-...
Dan Sheppard's user avatar
12 votes
4 answers
3k views

What does it mean when ATC says "altitude indicates"?

I've noticed that ATC sometimes calls out traffic (a traffic advisory?) to aircraft using the "altitude indicates" phraseology, and sometimes a specific altitude is given without the phrase "altitude ...
slantalpha's user avatar
  • 4,203
12 votes
4 answers
2k views

Does "Cross [FIX] at 250 knots" mean I have to maintain 250 knots after the fix?

If you are given the clearance to "cross [FIX] at 250 knots", does this specifically mean : 1 ) Cross fix at 250 knots, and then after [FIX] your assigned speed is 250 knots until otherwise ...
Anon's user avatar
  • 121
12 votes
3 answers
7k views

How do pilots/controllers deal with overlapping transmissions on the radio?

A disadvantage of the analogue radio1 used for communication is that it does not receive when it transmits. Everybody is trained to wait until the frequency is quiet before starting to talk, but it's ...
Jan Hudec's user avatar
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