Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What is the technically correct response to this transmission from ATC?

New York Center transmits this message to you: "Falcon 900, contact Cleveland Center one three two point six five". What are the exact words you transmit in response? If you say, "Falcon nine hundred, contact Cleveland Center on one three two point six five" you are not technically correct. Even though today you hear almost all pilots respond with the same 10 words, you are not technically correct. If you refer to chapter 4.2.1 of the Airmans Information Manual which contains the proper radio communication phraseology you will find no requirement to repeat back frequencies. However, there is a requirement to acknowledge the transmission from ATC with your call sign only.

In the days when pilots and Air Traffic Controllers were forced to use low/medium frequency radios which produced lots of static interference, it was common practice to repeat transmissions.  However, today, with the universal use of  Very High Frequency (VHF) radios and the much quieter cockpits of today's aircraft and the use of high tech noise canceling headsets the need to repeat transmissions no longer exists.  It is my opinion every time you repeat the frequency you are contributing to a decrease in safety by creating unnecessary radio frequency congestion. Congested frequencies have become more common with the rapid growth in today's air traffic.

If we all would stop repeating the frequencies a contribution to air safety would be a welcome relief. It may not appear to be a very significant difference on an individual basis but the savings of up to 10 words per frequency change amounts to a large improvement overall.  It results in a less noisy and fatiguing environment  as well as less congestion.

Please help me spread the word to have pilots stop repeating radio frequencies.
What is your opinion? Don't be afraid to post it here as a comment.


  1. What What what? Say that again???
    Your are wrong!
    Even in your reference, AIM 4.2.1 there is no mention that you can aknoledge a frequency change omitting the frequency.
    ICAO Phraseology Reference Guide (http://www.skybrary.aero/bookshelf/books/115.pdf) still shows the clear frequency read-back. You will find an exemple on page 8.
    Unless USA is not ICAO, we should ear it like this all over USA. (Not to mention the common use of "point" instead of "decimal"...