Learn to Fly
7 day IFR Rating
RADIO COMMUNICATIONS PHRASEOLOGY AND TECHNIQUES
- Radio communications are a critical link in the ATC system.
The link can be a strong bond between pilot and controller or it can be
broken with surprising speed and disastrous results. Discussion herein
provides basic procedures for new pilots and also highlights safe
operating concepts for all pilots.
- The single, most important thought in pilot-controller
communications is understanding. It is essential, therefore, that
pilots acknowledge each radio communication with ATC by using the
appropriate aircraft call sign. Brevity is important, and contacts
should be kept as brief as possible, but the controller must know what
you want to do before he can properly carry out his control duties. And
you, the pilot, must know exactly what he wants you to do. Since
concise phraseology may not always be adequate, use whatever words are
necessary to get your message across.
- All pilots will find the Pilot/Controller Glossary very
helpful in learning what certain words or phrases mean. Good
phraseology enhances safety and is the mark. of a professional pilot.
Jargon, chatter and "CB" slang have no place in ATC communications. The
Pilot/Controller Glossary is the same glossary used in the ATC
controller's handbook. We recommend that it be studied and reviewed
from time to time to sharpen your communication skills.
- Calls to air traffic control (ATC) facilities (ARTCCs,
Towers, FSSs, Central Flow, and Communications Control Centers) over
radio and ATC operational telephone lines (lines used for operational
purposes such as controller instructions, briefings, opening and
closing flight plans, issuance of IFR clearances and amendments,
counter hijacking activities, etc.) may be monitored and recorded for
operational uses such accident investigations, accident prevention,
search and rescue purposes, specialist training and evaluation, and
technical evaluation and repair of control and communications systems.
- Listen before you transmit. Many times can get the
information you want through ATIS or by monitoring the frequency.
Except for a few situations where some frequency overlap occurs, if you
hear someone else talking, the keying of your transmitter will be
futile and you will probably jam their receiver causing them to repeat
their call. If you have just changed frequencies, pause, listen and
make sure the frequency is clear.
- Think before keying your transmitter. Know what you
want to say and if it lengthy. e.g., a flight plan or IFR position
report, jot it down.
- The microphone should very close to your lips and after
pressing the mike button, a slight pause may be necessary to be sure
the first word is transmitted. Speak in a normal conversational tone.
- When you release the button, wait a few seconds before
calling again. The controller or FSS specialist may be jotting down
your number, or looking for your flight plan, transmitting on a
different frequency, or selecting his transmitter to your frequency.
- Be alert to the sounds or lack of sounds in your
receiver. Check your volume, recheck your frequency and make sure
your microphone is not stuck in the transmit position. Frequency
blockage can, and has, occurred for extended periods of time due to
unintentional transmitter operation. This type of interference is
commonly referred to as "stuck mike," and controllers may refer it in
this manner when attempting to assign an alternate frequency. If the
assigned frequency is completely blocked by this type of interference,
use the procedures described for en route IFR radio frequency outage,
to establish or reestablish communications with ATC.
- Be sure that you are within the performance range of your
radio equipment and the ground station equipment. Remote radio sites do
not always transmit and receive on all of a facilities available
frequencies, particularly with regard to VOR sites where you can hear
but not reach a ground station's receiver. Remember that higher
altitude increases the range of VHF "line of sight" communications.
- Initial Contact.
- The term initial contact or initial callup means the
first radio call you make to a given facility, or the first call to a
different controller or FSS specialist within a facility. Use the
- name of facility being called,
- your full aircraft identification as filed
in the flight plan or as discussed under Aircraft Call Signs below,
- type of message to follow or your request if it is
- the word "Over"
"NEW YORK RADIO, MOONEY THREE ONE ONE ECHO, OVER"
"COLUMBIA GROUND, CESSNA THREE ONE SIX ZERO FOXTROT, IFR MEMPHIS OVER."
"MIAMI CENTER BARON FIVE SIX THREE HOTEL, REQUEST VFR TRAFFIC
- If radio reception is reasonably assured, inclusion of
your request, your position or altitude, the phrase "Have numbers" or
"'Information Charlie received" (for ATIS) in the initial contact helps
decrease radio frequency congestion. Use discretion and do not overload
the controller with information he does not need. If you do not get a
response from the ground station, recheck your radios or use another
transmitter but keep the next contact short.
"ATLANTA CENTER, DUKE FOUR ONE ROMEO, REQUEST VFR TRAFFIC ADVISORIES,
TWENTY NORTHWEST ROME, SEVEN THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED, OVER"
- Initial Contact When your Transmitting and Receiving
Frequencies are Different
- If you are attempting to establish contact with a
ground station and you are receiving on a different frequency than that
transmitted, indicate the VOR name or the frequency on which you expect
a reply. Most FSSs and control facilities can transmit on several VOR
stations in the area. Use the appropriate FSS call sign as indicated on
New York FSS transmits on the Kennedy, Hampton and Calverton VORTACs.
If you are in the Calverton area, your callup should be "NEW YORK
RADIO, CESSNA THREE ONE SIX ZERO FOXTROT, RECEIVING CALVERTON VOR,
- If the chart indicates FSS frequencies above the VORTAC
or in FSS communications boxes transmit or receive on those frequencies
nearest your location.
- When unable to establish contact and you wish to call any
ground station, use the phrase "ANY RADIO (tower) (station), GIVE
CESSNA THREE ONE SIX ZERO FOXTROT A CALL ON (frequency) OR (VOR)." If
an emergency exists or you need assistance, so state.
- Subsequent Contacts and Responses to Callup from a
Use the same format as used for initial contact except you should state
your message or request with the callup in one transmission. The ground
station name and the word "Over" may be omitted if the message require
an obvious reply and there is no possibility for misunderstanding. You
should acknowledge all callups or clearances unless the controller
or FSS specialist advises otherwise. There arc some occasions when the
controller must issue time-critical instructions to other aircraft and
he may be in a position to observe your response, either visually or on
radar. If the situation demands your response, take appropriate action
or immediately advise the facility of any problem. Acknowledgment is
made with one of the words "Wilco, Roger, Affirmative, Negative" or
other appropriate remark (e.g., "PIPER TWO ONE FOUR LIMA, ROGER"). If
you have been receiving services (e.g., VFR traffic advisories and you
are leaving the area or changing frequencies), advise the ATC facility
and terminate contact.
- Acknowledgment of Frequency Changes.
When advised by ATC to change frequencies, acknowledge the instruction.
If you select the new frequency without an acknowledgment, the
controller's work load is increased because he has no way of knowing
whether you received the instruction or have had radio communications
- Compliance with Frequency Changes.
When instructed by ATC to change frequencies, select the new frequency
as soon as possible unless instructed to make the change at a specific
time, fix, or altitude. A delay in making the change could result in an
untimely receipt of important information. It you are instructed to
make the frequency change at a specific time, fix, or altitude, monitor
the frequency you are on until reaching the specified time, fix, or
altitude unless instructed otherwise by ATC.
DIRECT COMMUNICATIONS - CONTROLLERS AND PILOTS
- ARTCCs are capable of direct
communications with IFR air traffic on certain frequencies. Maximum
communications coverage is possible through the use of Remote Center
Air/Ground (RCAG) sites comprised of both VHF and UHF transmitters and
receivers. These sites are located throughout the U.S.. Although they
may be several hundred miles away from the ARTCC, they are remoted to
the various ARTCCs by land lines or microwave links. Since IFR
operations are expedited through the use of direct communications,
pilots are requested to use these frequencies strictly for
communications pertinent to the control of IFR aircraft. Flight plan
filing, en route weather, weather forecasts and similar data should be
requested through FSSs, company radio, or appropriate military
facilities capable of performing these services.
- An ARTCC is divided into
sectors. Each sector is handled by one or a team of controllers and has
its own sector discrete frequency. As a flight progresses from one
sector to another, the pilot is requested to change to the appropriate
sector discrete frequency.
- ATC Frequency Change
- The following
phraseology will be used by controllers to effect a frequency change:
(Aircraft Identification) CONTACT (facility name or location name and
terminal function) (frequency) AT (time, fix or altitude) OVER.
NOTE: Pilots are expected to maintain a listening watch on the
transferring controller's frequency until the time. fix or altitude
specified. ATC will omit frequency change restrictions whenever pilot
compliance is expected upon receipt.
- The following
phraseology should be utilized by pilot for establishing contact with
the designated facility:
- When a position
report will be made:
(Name) CENTER, (aircraft identification), (position), OVER.
- When no position
report will be made:
(Name) CENTER, (aircraft identification), ESTIMATING (reporting point
and time) AT (altitude or flight level) CLIMBING (or descending) TO
MAINTAIN (altitude or flight level) OVER.
- When operating in a
radar environment and no position report is required:
(Name) CENTER, (aircraft identification) AT (exact altitude or flight
level); or, if appropriate,
LEAVING (exact altitude or flight level) CLIMBING (or descending) TO
MAINTAIN (altitude or flight level) OVER.
NOTE: Exact altitude or flight level means to the nearest 100 foot
increment. Exact altitude or flight level reports on initial contact
provide ATC with information required prior to using MODE C altitude
information for separation purposes.
- At times controllers
will ask pilots to verify that they are at a particular altitude. The
phraseology used will be: "VERIFY AT (altitude)." In climbing or
descending situations, controllers may ask pilots to "VERIFY ASSIGNED
ALTITUDE AS (altitude)." Pilots should confirm that they are at the
altitude stated by the controller or that the assigned altitude is
correct as stated. If this is not the case, they should inform the
controller of the actual altitude being maintained or the different
CAUTION: Pilots should not take action to change
their actual altitude or different assigned altitude to the altitude
stated in the controllers verification request unless the controller
specifically authorizes a change.
- ARTCC Radio Frequency
- ARTCCs normally have at
least one back up radio receiver and transmitter system for each
frequency which can usually be placed into service quickly with little
or no disruption of ATC service. Occasionally, technical problems may
cause a delay but switchover seldom takes more than 60 seconds. When it
appears that the outage will not be quickly remedied, the ARTCC will
usually request a nearby aircraft, if there is one, to switch to the
affected frequency to broadcast communications instructions. It is
important, therefore. that the pilot wait at least 1 minute before
deciding that the ARTCC has actually experienced a radio frequency
failure. When such an outage does occur. the pilot should, if workload
and equipment capability permit, maintain a listening watch on the
affected frequency while attempting to comply with the following
recommended communications procedures:
- If two-wave
communications cannot be established with the ARTCC after changing
frequencies, a pilot should attempt to recontact the transferring
controller for the assignment of an alternative frequency or other
- When an ARTCC radio
frequency failure occurs after two-way communications have been
established, the pilot should attempt to reestablish contact with the
center on any other known ARTCC frequency, preferably that of the next
responsible sector when practicable, and ask for instructions. However,
when the next normal frequency change along the route is known to
involve another ATC facility, the pilot should contact that facility,
if feasible, for instructions. If communications cannot be
reestablished by either method, the pilot is expected to request
communications instructions from the FSS appropriate to the route of
NOTE: The exchange of
information between an aircraft and an ARTCC through an FSS is quicker
than relay via company radio because the FSS has direct interphone
lines to the responsible ARTCC sector. Accordingly, when circumstances
dictate a choice between the two, during an ARTCC frequency outage,
relay via FSS radio is recommended.
- Precautions in the Use of
- Improper use of call
signs can result in pilots executing a clearance intended for another
aircraft. Call signs should never be abbreviated on an initial
contact or at any time when other aircraft call signs have similar
numbers/sounds or identical letters/numbers (e.g., Cessna 6132F,
Cessna 1622F, Baron 123F, Cherokee 7732F, etc.).
Assume that a controller issues an approach clearance to an aircraft at
the bottom of a holding stack and an aircraft with a similar call sign
(at the top of the stack) acknowledges the clearance with the last two
or three numbers of his call sign. If the aircraft at the bottom of the
stack did not hear the clearance and intervene, flight safety would be
affected, and there would be no reason for either the controller or
pilot to suspect that anything is wrong. This kind of "human factors"
error can strike swiftly and is extremely difficult to rectify.
- Pilots; therefore, must
be certain that aircraft identification is complete and clearly
identified before taking action on an ATC clearance. ATC specialists
will not abbreviate call signs of an air carrier or other civil
aircraft having authorized call signs. ATC specialist may initiate
abbreviated call signs of other aircraft by using the prefix and
the last three digits/letters of the aircraft identification after
communications are established. The pilot may use the abbreviated call
sign in subsequent contact with the ATC specialist. When aware of
similar/identical call signs, ATC specialists will take action to
minimize errors by emphasizing certain numbers/letters, by repeating
the entire call sign, repeating the prefix, or by asking pilots to use
a different call sign temporarily. Pilots should use the phrase "VERIFY
CLEARANCE FOR (your complete call sign)" if doubt exists concerning
- Civil aircraft pilots
should state the aircraft type, model or manufacturers name followed by
the digits/letters of the registration number. When the aircraft
manufacturer's name or model is stated, the prefix "N" is dropped (e.g.
Aztec Two Four Six Four Alpha).
BONANZA SIX FIVE FIVE GOLF.
BREEZY SIX ONE THREE ROMEO EXPERIMENTAL (omit "Experimental" after
- Air Taxi or other
commercial operators not having FAA authorized call signs should prefix
their normal identification with the phonetic word 'Tango".
TANGO AZTEC TWO FOUR SIX FOUR ALPHA.
- air carriers and
commuter air carriers having FAA authorized call signs should identify
themselves by stating the complete call sign, using group form for the
numbers and word "heavy" if appropriate.
UNITED TWENTY-FIVE HEAVY.
MIDWEST COMMUTER SEVEN ELEVEN.
- Military aircraft use a
variety of systems including serial numbers, word call signs and
combinations of letters/numbers. Examples include Army Copter 48931,
Air Force 61182, MAC 31792, Pat 157, Air Evac 17652, Navy Golf Alfa
Kilo 21, Marine 4 Charlie 36, etc.
- Air Ambulance Flights.
- Civilian air ambulance
flights responding to medical emergencies (carrying patients, organ
donors, organs, or other urgently needed lifesaving medical material)
will be expedited by ATC when necessary. When expeditious handling is
required, add the word "LIFEGUARD" in the remarks of the flight plan.
In radio communication, use the call sign "LIFEGUARD" followed by the
aircraft type and registration letters/numbers. When requested by the
pilot, necessary notification to expedite ground handling of patients,
etc., is provided by ATC; however, when possible, this information
should be passed in advance through non-ATC communications systems.
Extreme discretion is necessary in using the term "LIFEGUARD." It is
intended only for those missions of an urgent medical nature and for
use only for that portion of the flight requiring expedited handling.
- Similar provisions have
been made for the use of "AIR EVAC" and "MED EVAC" by military air
ambulance flights, except that these military flights will receive
priority handling only when specifically requested.
LIFEGUARD CESSNA TWO SIX FOUR SIX.
- Student Pilots Radio
- The FAA desires to help
the student pilot in acquiring sufficient practical experience in the
environment in which he will be required to operate. To receive
additional assistance while operating in areas of concentrated air
traffic, a student pilot need only identify himself as a student pilot
during his initial call to an FAA radio facility.
DAYTON TOWER, THIS IS FLEETWING 1234, STUDENT PILOT, OVER.
- This special
identification will alert FAA ATC personnel and enable them to provide
the student pilot with such extra assistance and consideration as he
may nee. This procedure is not mandatory.
of Interchange or Leased Aircraft
- Controllers issue traffic
information based on familiarity with airline equipment and
color/markings. When an air carrier dispatches a flight using another
company's equipment and the pilot does not advise the terminal ATC
facility, the possible confusion in aircraft identification can
- Pilots flying an
"interchange" or "leased" aircraft not bearing the colors/markings of
the company operating the aircraft should inform the terminal ATC
facility on the first contact the name of the operating company and
trip number, followed by the company name as displayed on the aircraft,
and aircraft type.
AIR CAL 311, UNITED (INTERCHANGE/LEASE), BOEING 727,
- When the Delta / Northwest
merger occurred, Delta paintjobs started appearing on NWA
equipment. NWA pilots started using the phraseology, "NW 211
DELTA COLORS REQUEST TAXI". This only occurred on ground, tower,
and approach frequencies where there was a chance controllers could
physically see the aircraft and the new Delta paint jobs.
STATION CALL SIGNS
Pilots, when calling a ground station, should begin with the name of
the facility being called followed by the type of the facility being
called, as indicated in the following examples.
- Airport Unicom - "Shannon
- FAA Flight Service Station -
- FAA Flight Service Station
(En Route Flight Advisory Service (Weather) - "Seattle Flight Watch"
- Airport Traffic Control
Tower - "Augusta Tower"
- Clearance Delivery Position
(IFR) - "Dallas Clearance Delivery"
- Ground Control Position in
Tower - "Miami Ground"
- Radar or Nonradar Approach
Control Position - "Oklahoma City Approach"
- Radar Departure Control
Position - "St. Louis Departure"
- Faa Air Route Traffic
Control Center - "Washington Center"
The international Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) phonetic alphabet
is used by FAA personnel when communications conditions are such the
the information cannot be readily received withour their use. ATC
facilities may also request pilots to use phonetic letter equivalents
when aircraft wiht similar sounding identifications are receiving
communications on the same frequency. Pilots should use the phonetic
alphabet when idetifying their aircraft during initial contact with air
traffic control facilities. Additionall use the phonetic equivalents
for single letters and to spell out groups of letters or difficult
sords during adverse communications conditions.
CHARTER MORSE CODE TELEPHONY PHONIC (PRONUNCIATION)
A o - Alfa (AL-FAH)
B o o o Bravo (BRAH-VOH)
C - o - o Charlie (CHAR-LEE) or (SHAR-LEE)
D - o o Delta (DELL-TAH)
E o Echo (ECK-OH)
F o o - o Foxtrot (FOKS-TROT)
G - - o Golf (GOLF)
H o o o o Hotel (HOH-TEL)
I o o India (IN-DEE-AH)
J o - - - Juliett (JEW-LEE-ETT)
K - o - Kilo (KEY-LOH)
L o - o o Lima (LEE-MAH)
M - - Mike (MIKE)
N - o November (NO-VEM-BER)
O - - - Oscar (OSS-CAH)
P o - - o Papa (PAH-PAH)
Q - - o - Quebec (KEH-BECK)
R o - o Romeo (ROW-ME-OH)
S o o o Sierra (SEE-AIR-RAH)
T - Tango (TANG-GO)
U o o - Uniform (YOU-NEE-FORM) or
V o o o - Victor (VIK-TAH)
W o - - Whiskey (WISS-KEY)
X - o o - Xray (ECKS-RAY)
Y - o - - Yankee (YANG-KEY)
Z - - o o Zulu (ZOO-LOO)
1 o - - - - One (WUN)
2 o o - - - Two (TOO)
3 o o o - - Three (TREE)
4 o o o o - Four (FOW-ER)
5 o o o o o Five (FIFE)
6 - o o o o Six (SIX)
7 - - o o o Seven (SEV-EN)
8 - - - o o Eight (AIT)
9 - - - - o Nine (NIN-ER)
0 - - - - - Zero (ZEE-RO)
- Figures indication hundred
and thousands in round number, as for ceiling heights, and upper wind
levels up to 9900 shall be spoken in accordance with the following:
500 - FIVE HUNDRED
4500 - FOUR THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED
- Numbers above 9900 shall be
spoken by separating the digits preceding the word "thousand."
10,000 - ONE ZERO THOUSAND
13,500 - ONE THREE THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED
- Transmit airway or jet route
numbers as follows:
V12 - VICTOR TWELVE
J533 - J FIVE THIRTY-THREE
- All other numbers shall be
transmitted by pronouncing each digit.
10 - ONE ZERO
- When a radio frequency
contains a decimal point, the decimal point is spoken as "POINT."
122.1 - ONE TWO TWO POINT ONE
NOTE: ICAO Procedures require the decimal point be spoken as "DECIMAL"
and FAA will honor such usage by military aircraft and all other
aircraft required to use ICAO Procedures.
AND FLIGHT LEVELS
- Up to but not including
18,000 feet MSL - state the separate digits of the thousands, plus the
hundreds, if appropriate.
12,000 - ONE TWO THOUSAND
12,500 - ONE TWO THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED
- At and above 18,000 feet MSL
(FL 180) state the words "flight level" followed by the separate digits
of the flight level.
190 - FLIGHT LEVEL ONE NINER ZERO
The three digits of bearing, course, heading or wind direction should
always be magnetic. The word "true" must be added when it applies.
(magnetic course) 005 - ZERO ZERO FIVE
(true course) 050 - ZERO FIVE ZERO TRUE
(magnetic bearing) 360 - THREE SIX ZERO
(magnetic heading) 100 - ONE ZERO ZERO
(wind direction) 220 - TWO TWO ZERO
The separate digits of the speed followed by the word "KNOTS." Except,
controllers may omit the word "KNOTS" when using speed adjustment
procedures, e.g., "REDUCE/INCREASE SPEED TO TWO FIVE ZERO."
(speed) 250 - TWO FIVE ZERO KNOTS
(speed) 190 - ONE NINER ZERO KNOTS
The separate digits of the mach
number preceded by "MACH."
(mach number) 1.5 - MACH ONE POINT FIVE
(mach number) .64 - MACH POINT SIX FOUR
(mach number) .7 - MACH POINT SEVEN
- FAA used Greenwich Mean Time
(GMT or Z) for all operations.
- To convert from Standard
Time to Greenwich Mean Time:
Eastern Standard Time - Add 5 hours
Central Standard Time - Add 6 hours
Mountain Standard Time - Add 7 hours
Pacific Standard Time - Add 8 hours
Note: For Daylight Time subtract 1 hour.
- The 24-hour clock system is
used in radiotelephone transmissions. The hour is indicated by the
first two figures and the minutes by the last two figures.
0000 - ZERO ZERO ZERO ZERO
0920 - ZERO NINER TWO ZERO
- Time may be stated in
minutes only (two figures) in radio telephone communications when no
misunderstanding is likely to occur.
- Current time in use at a
station is stated in the nearest quarter minute in order that pilots
may use this information for time checks. Fractions of a quarter minute
less than eight seconds are stated as the preceding quarter minute;
fractions of a quarter minute of eight seconds or more are stated as
the succeeding quarter minute.
0929:05 - TIME, ZERO NINER TWO NINER
0929:10 - TIME, ZERO NINER TWO NINER AND ONE-QUARTER
WITH TOWER WHEN AIRCRAFT TRANSMITTER OR RECEIVER OR BOTH ARE INOPERATIVE
- Arriving Aircraft
- Receiver inoperative -
If you have reason to believe your receiver is inoperative, remain
outside or above the airport traffic area until the direction and flow
of traffic has been determined, then advise the tower of your type
aircraft, position, altitude, intention to land and request that you be
controlled with light signals. When you are approximately 3 to 5 miles
from the airport, advise the tower of your position and join the
airport traffic pattern. From this point on, watch the tower for light
signals. Thereafter, if a complete pattern is made, transmit your
position downwind and/or turning base leg.
- Transmitter inoperative
- Remain outside or above the airport traffic area until the direction
and flow of traffic has been determined, then join the airport traffic
pattern. Monitor the primary local control frequency as depicted on
Sectional Charts for landing or traffic information, and look for a
light signal which may be addressed to your aircraft. During hours of
daylight, acknowledge tower transmissions or light signals be rocking
your wings. At night, acknowledge by linking the landing or navigation
- Transmitter and receiver
inoperative - Remain outside or above the airport traffic area until
the direction and flow of traffic has been determined, then join the
airport traffic pattern and maintain visual contact with the tower to
receive light signals. Acknowledge light signals as noted above.
- Departing Aircraft
- If you experience radio
failure prior to leaving the parking area, make every effort to have
the equipment repaired. If you are unable to have the malfunction
repaired, call the tower by telephone and request authorization to
depart without two-way radio communications. If tower authorization is
granted, you will be given departure information and requested to
monitor the tower frequency or watch for light signals, as appropriate.
During daylight hours, acknowledge tower transmissions or light signals
by moving the ailerons or rudder. At night, acknowledge by blinking the
landing or navigation lights. If radio malfunction occurs after
departing the parking area, watch the tower for light signals or
monitor tower frequency.
NOTE: Refer to FAR-91.87 and FAR-91.77.
- The following procedures are
used by ATCTs in the control of aircraft not equipped with radio. These
same procedures will be used to control aircraft equipped with radio if
radio contact cannot be established. ATC personnel use a directive
traffic control signal which emits an intense narrow light beam of a
selected color (either red, white, or green) when controlling traffic
by light signals.
- Although the traffic signal
light offers the advantage that some control may be exercised over
nonradio equipped aircraft, pilots should be cognizant of the
disadvantages which are:
- The pilot may not be
looking at the control tower at the time a signal is directed toward
- The directions
transmitted by a light signal are very limited since only approval or
disapproval of a pilot's anticipated actions may be transmitted. No
supplement or explanatory information may be transmitted except by the
use of the "General Warning Signal" which advises the pilot to be on
- Between sunset and sunrise,
a pilot wishing to attract the attention to the control tower should
turn on a landing light and taxi the aircraft into a position, clear of
the active runway. so that light is visible to the tower. The landing
light should remain on until appropriate signals are received from the
- Portable traffic control
FOR VFR FLIGHTS
Color and Type On the Ground In Flight
STEADY GREEN Cleared for take-off Cleared to land
FLASHING GREEN Cleared to taxi Return for landing
(to be followed by
steady green at
STEADY RED Stop Give way to other
FLASHING RED Taxi clear of landing area Airport unsafe-
(runway) is use do not land
FLASHING WHITE Return to starting point
ALTERNATING General Warning Signal- General Warning
RED $ GREEN Exercise Extreme Caution Signal-Exercise
e. During daylight hours, acknowledge tower transmissions or light
signals by moving the ailerons or rudder. At night, acknowledge by
blinking the landing or navigation lights. If radio malfunction occurs
after departing the parking area. Watch the tower for light signals or
monitor tower frequency.
- FSSs are allocated
frequencies for different functions, for airport Advisory Service the
pilot should contact the FSS on 123.6 MHz, for example. Other FSS
frequencies are listed with the FSS in the airport/Facility Directory.
If you are in doubt as to what frequency to use to contact an FSS,
transmit on 122.l MHz and advise them of the frequency you are
- On VFR flights, guard the
voice channel of VORs for broadcasts and calls from FAA FSSs. Where the
VOR voice channel is being utilized for ATIS broadcasts, pilots of VFR
flights are urged to guard the voice channel of an adjacent VOR. When
in contact with a control facility, notify the controller if you plan
to leave the frequency. That could save the controller time by not
trying to call you on that frequency.
EMERGENCY LOCATOR TRANSMITTERS
RESCUE SATELLITE (SARSAT)
Emergency locator Transmitters (ELT's) are required for most general
aviation airplanes (FAR 91.52). ELT's of various types have been
developed as a means of locating downed aircraft. These electronic,
battery operated transmitters emit a distinctive downward swept audio
tone on 121.5 Mhz and 243.0 MHz. If "armed" and when subject to crash
generated forces, they are designed to automatically activate and
continuously emit these signals. The transmitters will operate
(continuously for at least 48 hours over a wide temperature range. A
properly installed and maintained ELT can expedite search and rescue
operations and save lives.
ELT's should be tested in accordance with the manufacturer's
instructions, preferably in a shielded or screened room to prevent the
broadcast of signals which could trigger a false alert. ''When this
cannot be done, aircraft operational testing is authorized on 121.5 MHz
and 243.0 Mhz as follows :
- Tests should be
conducted only during the first 5 minutes after any hour. If
operational tests must be made outside of this time frame, they should
be coordinated with the nearest FAA Control Tower or FSS.
- Tests should be no
longer than three audible sweeps.
- If the antenna is
removable, a dummy load should be substituted during test procedures.
- Airborne tests are not
- FALSE ALARMS
Caution should be exercised to prevent the inadvertent activation of
ELT's in the air or while they are being handled on the ground.
Accidental or unauthorized activation will generate an emergency signal
that cannot be distinguished from the real thing, leading to expensive
and frustrating searches. A false ELT signal could also interfere with
genuine emergency transmissions and hinder or prevent the timely
location of crash sites. Frequent false alarms could also result in
complacency and decrease the vigorous reaction that must be attached to
all ELT signals. Numerous cases of inadvertent activation have occurred
as a result of aerobatics, hard landings, movement by ground crews, and
aircraft maintenance. These false alarms can be minimized by monitoring
121.5 MHz and/or 243.0 MHz as follows:
- Prior to engine shut
down at the end of each flight.
- When the ELT is handled
during installation or maintenance.
- When maintenance is
being performed in the vicinity of the ELT.
- When the aircraft is
moved by a ground crew.
- If an ELT signal is
heard, turn off the ELT to determine if it is transmitting. If it has
heen activated, maintenance might be required before the unit is
returned to the "ARMED" position.
- IN-FLIGHT MONITORING AND
Pilots are encouraged to monitor 121.5 MHz and/or 243.0 MHz while in
flight to assist in identifying possible emergency ELT transmissions.
On receiving a signal, report the following information to the nearest
air traffic facility:
- Your position at the
time the signal was first heard.
- Your position at the
time the signal was last heard.
- Your position at maximum
- Your flight altitudes
and frequency on which the emergency signal was heard - 121.5 MHz or
243.0 MHz. If possible positions should be given relative to a
navigation aid. If the aircraft has homing equipment, provide the
bearing to the emergency signal with each reported position.
Search and rescue is a lifesaving service provided through the combined
efforts of the federal agencies signatory to the national search and
rescue plan, and the agencies responsible for search and rescue in each
state. Operational resources are provided by the U.S. Coast Guard,
Department of Defense components, the Civil Air Patrol, the Coast Guard
Auxiliary, state, county, and local law enforcement and other public
safety agencies. The introduction of the SARSAT system enhances the
effectiveness of search and rescue. SARSAT also amplifies the
importance of assuring that your ELT remains silent, except for testing
or in an actual emergency. Search and rescue missions launched because
of a FALSE ELT signal are costly and unnecessary. Search and rescue
services include search for missing aircraft, survival aid, rescue, and
emergency medical help for the occupants after an accident site is
Check your radio on 121.5 MHz
or 243.0 MHz before you leave your aircraft. Your ELT may be
DOCUMENT FAA-P-8740-47 AFO-800-0385)