Radio communications are a critical link in the air traffic control system. The link can be a strong
bond between aircrew and controller, but it can be broken with surprising speed, leading to
disastrous results. The most important aspect of aircrew-controller communications is
understanding. The controller must understand what you want to do before he can properly carry
out his control duties. Similarly, you must know exactly what he wants you to do. Although
brevity is important, concise phraseology may not always be adequate. Use whatever words are
necessary to state your message. It cannot be stressed enough that communication plays a vital
role in the flight evolution. With experience, it should become second nature.
B101. COMMUNICATION TECHNIQUE
There are several techniques to consider when using aircraft radios:
First, pause and listen before you transmit. If you hear others talking, the keying of your
If you have changed frequencies, allow your receiver time to tune, then listen and make sure the
frequency is clear before you begin your transmission. Also, do not transmit during an exchange
between the controller and another aircraft. For example, if the controller asks another aircraft a
question, you should wait until the other aircraft has answered before transmitting.
Think before keying your transmitter. Know what you want to say. If it is a lengthy
transmission such as a flight plan, write it down. Avoid saying "and" prior to each transmission.
The microphone should be positioned very close to your lips. 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 the operating environment requires oxygen usage, your
microphone is incorporated in the oxygen mask (also ensure microphone is close to your lips).
After your call, release the button and wait a few seconds before calling again. The
controller may be jotting down your call sign, looking for your flight plan, transmitting on a
different frequency, or switching his transmitter to your frequency.
Be alert to the sounds, or lack of sounds, in your receiver. Check your volume and
frequency setting. Check your equipment to ensure that your microphone is not stuck in the
transmit position. Frequency blockage can, and has, occurred for extended periods of time
because of unintentional transmitter operation. This situation is referred to as a "stuck mike."
Avoid revealing your innermost thoughts during this time.
Be sure that you are within the performance range of station equipment. UHF radios are
limited to "line-of-sight" communications. Remember that as altitude increases, radio range
increases. The approximate range of your radio can be determined by using the range chart located
in the Meteorology section of your Flight Information Handbook (reproduced as Figure 1).