10-4 Good Buddy,
By Dr. Chuck Crinnian, MD
You would never hear this over the air at Deer Valley, but I bet you probably have heard lingo similar on Unicom frequency somewhere. Aviation-speak is a real language that efficiently transfers a lot of information from pilots, controllers, and Flight Service stations. It is optimized when all parties use proper syntax, diction, pace, and vocabulary. Deviating from any of the elements of effective radio communication will set up the potential for a miscommunication.
Start with the FAA Pilot/Controller glossary( www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications/atpubs/PGC/ ). This “dictionary” defines the language we are using. This IS aviation-speak. Anything else is a foreign language and should be avoided.
I saw a “good ol boy” in the ER last week. His head was in a bandage. I asked his friend what happened, “He was talkin' and should have been listening”. Lesson here- listen to hear the flow of the events on frequency before keying the mic. As you are briefly listening, formulate what exactly you plan on communicating to the controller and the other pilots that also are listening. Listen to what is going on in regards to traffic flow. Formulate the big picture that ATC is dealing with. Be attentive!
Use your full call sign on the initial contact or when there are other aircraft with similar numbers/sounds. When ATC is aware of similar call signs, ATC specialists will take action to minimize errors. State the aircraft type and full 'N' number on initial contact. Be sure to answer subsequent calls with your aircraft type and last three numbers/letters ie: Mooney two-three-one, NOT two thirty one. If you are unsure of what may have been requested of you- “Confirm” or “Verify”. ATC would rather have to repeat a clearance than have a pilot deviation.
When you call up, use your exact position. There have been issues when ATC requests a call over a point such as “canal and freeway”. That is at that point, not in view of it 3 miles away. As we are in a “see and be seen” environment for traffic separation, it is vital that we are accurate in position reporting.
When arriving at an uncontrolled airfield, first listen to the flow of traffic. Then call in advance at least 10 miles out. DO NOT say “ Any traffic in the area please advise”. This is not in the pilot-controller glossary, this is not good technique. Although you will hear many commuter airliners use this, they are practicing poor radio technique. You will know about any traffic if you just listen in advance. If you just popped in from center ATC, your call will alert the other traffic of your arrival and likely prompt the other traffic to advise if potential conflicts arise.
Following these tips will make departure and arrival at one of the world’s busiest airports less stressful and safe.