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ATC Speak Quick Reference


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I'm just starting real-world flight training and so far VATSIM has been super helpful. Although even with the basic VATSIM training and real-world ground school I'm still a bit unsure of myself on radio communications. I can usually effectively communicate, but I worry that (especially on VATSIM) people are being lenient on me and I'm not saying things exactly right.

I'd love a quick list of examples of what you should say in certain situations. For example I know I'm close on these but not quite right:

Ground, Cessna XYZ located in general aviation parking, requesting taxi for VFR departure to the north.

Tower, Cessna XYZ with Alpha holding short on runway 12 for VFR departure to the north.

Center, Cessna XYZ 12 miles northwest requesting permission to enter Class Bravo airspace for landing at ABC.

Tower, Cessna XYZ with Alpha requesting full stop landing.

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James that video was great, but I should have specified US VFR. I'll be coming back to that video in the future for IFR 🙂

Kirk I dug through all of the docs under the VFR section and I can't find  what I'm looking for. There is a great section on Flight Following for VFR and I'm looking for exactly that for departures and arrivals.

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Go to my.vatsim.net and log in, on the left hand side menu, Select Learning Center, then from the top menus select Basic Aviation skills, then ATC Communications USA from the drop down menu.

Kirk Christie - VATPAC C3

VATPAC Undercover ATC Agent

Worldflight Perth 737-800 Crew Member

956763

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi all,

New VATSIM member but been flying since 2009. 

I'm glad somebody else asked this question, so I was also about to ask something similar. When talking to ATC, some operators talk faster than what I can remember or write down instructions. So for my question, I wanted to know if there is an online resource or an app that will make the ATC procedures easier. Say... if the ATC give me instructions, I can just punch it into the app while I'm listening. Does that make sense? But like a calculator of sorts that has numbers for runways, L, R, cross, A,B,C and all the data they will give you. As they talk, you press the buttons - and bam! It tells you what to say back to ATC. 

 

I'm not sure if I'm making sense - its been a long day. Maybe it will be easier if I draw a picture of what it could look like. 

Edited by Charlie Fripp
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I can't think of anything like that Charlie. Though, I'll say in general that what you say back to ATC is what they say to you. Ideally, you're just repeating their instructions as close to verbatim as you can (you can omit weather information like wind or altimeter/QNH settings). The more you do it, the easier this will become. (The one exception is making your initial call...but since you're the one initiating that, you have plenty of time and can even write it down before you start.)

A few things you might consider doing as you gain more practice: 

  1. Identify as "student pilot" or "new pilot" on frequency when you check in ("Boston Ground, N12345, student pilot, Cessna 172, GA Ramp, request taxi for VFR departure to the east, at 5,500")
  2. Include "student pilot" or "please speak slowly" in your flight plan remarks
  3. Ask ATC to speak slowly as part of your initial call ("Boston Ground, N12345...I'm about to make a request. I'm still learning ATC. Would it be possible for you to try to speak at half speed for me?")

The more you hear instructions, the easier things will become.

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Evan Reiter
Boston Virtual ARTCC/ZBW Community Manager

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 9/11/2020 at 6:37 PM, Evan Reiter said:

 (you can omit weather information like wind or altimeter/QNH settings).

Omit QNH?

 

4.5.7.5.1 The flight crew shall read back to the air traffic controller safety-related parts of ATC clearances and instructions which are transmitted by voice. The following items shall always be read back:

c) runway-in-use, altimeter settings, SSR codes, level instructions, heading and speed instructions and, whether issued by the controller or contained in automatic terminal information service (ATIS) broadcasts, transition levels.

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Thanks for all the replies. I did find a thread on Steam where someone posted the general conversation for each ATC (clearance, dep, TWR, etc) which helped a lot. While I think I have the language down now, some ATC talk fast and I can't keep up - especially when its busy. I learnt this the hard way, as I decided to take off from Seattle and couldn't follow instructions. I had to excuse myself and log off and I didn't understand.

I'm also using Little Nav Map to plan my route and use it to take down notes. If anybody is interested, here are the two Steam threads:

[VATSIM] How to talk to ATC - https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=750969555

How to talk to ATC (for dummies) - https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=845407804

 

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1 hour ago, Charlie Fripp said:

some ATC talk fast and I can't keep up - especially when its busy. I learnt this the hard way, as I decided to take off from Seattle and couldn't follow instructions. I had to excuse myself and log off and I didn't understand.

You should not logoff, but request ATC to talk slower. They need to adapt to your current experience and if you are able to follow instructions when they are issued in clear and slow language, you will be fine. Of course, if you are not able to understand "'turn left heading 250", then it's a different story, but I understand that you are above that level already.

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I haven't looked into this in the FAA AIM but in my experience, the altimeter setting or wind is almost never read back in a landing/takeoff clearance. I have never heard a controller query a pilot and request a readback of an altimeter setting in Canada or the United States. Interesting to know that is a requirement in Europe. 

If anyone is worried about this, let me know and I'll have a look through the AIM.

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Evan Reiter
Boston Virtual ARTCC/ZBW Community Manager

 

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4 hours ago, Evan Reiter said:

the altimeter setting or wind is almost never read back in a landing/takeoff clearance

The QNH/altimeter setting is not stated during landing or takeoff clearance, since it it is obsolete information (should have been issued with IFR clearance or first descent instruction to an altitude).

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