The Four W’s of Aviation Radio Communications

What’s the most difficult section about pilot coaching? Nearly absolutely everyone will say, “Chatting on the radio.” Even so, even newcomers can seem very good on the radio if they apply some basic guidelines. I will initial explore those people policies and then give some strategies all pilots can use to strengthen their radio techniques.

The Four W’s of Radio Interaction

Typically the most difficult radio contact for a pilot to make is the 1st a person — the “original call up.” Nevertheless, each individual original contact (and quite a few subsequent calls) just need to bear in mind the four W’s:

  • Who am I contacting?
  • Who am I?
  • Where am I?
  • Where am I going, what am I doing, or what do I want to do?

Let’s just take two examples of this, a single for an uncontrolled field and a person with a command tower.

As you get prepared to enter the targeted visitors pattern at an uncontrolled field, ordinarily you will make an announcement such as:

“Milltown site visitors (who am I calling?), Cessna 12345 (who am I?) coming into 45 to downwind (exactly where am I?), runway 22 for landing Milltown (what am I executing?).

With a regulate tower, you could alternatively say:

Ocala tower (who am I calling?), Cessna 12345 (who am I?) eight miles north at two thousand 5 hundred with Charlie (where by am I? — and increase the ATIS), landing Ocala (what do I want to do?).

At the time you have established interaction, you will not require to use the 4 Ws for all of your interaction. As an alternative, you will just examine back crucial directions to the controller so they know you have been given them. For illustration, if the controller asks you to enter a ideal downwind for runway 24, you would reply, “Cessna 12345 will enter appropriate downwind for 24.”

Test some diverse scenarios with your mates or a flight teacher, and quite before long you may know what to say at all periods.


Even when you know what to say, conversing on the radio continue to takes some follow. Here are some suggestions that will have you chatting like a pro in no time.

  1. Listen to ATC communications. If you really don’t have a radio that receives aviation frequencies, see if you can borrow 1 from another pilot or your flight school for a week. Listen to what pilots say to ATC on their first get in touch with up and how they react to ATC instructions. Check out to pay attention to ground, tower, method, and centre frequencies if you can.
  2. Write down what you are likely to say in advance of you make your initial radio connect with. You can even make up fill-in-the-blank scripts to do this. After a few months of this, most individuals can make phone calls on their own, but you may perhaps nevertheless want to publish down intricate calls.
  3. If you’re a scholar pilot, be sure to say so in your preliminary simply call up so ATC will be much more mindful in how they cope with you.
  4. Will not be concerned if you forget about some thing. Even expert pilots sometimes forget to explain to the controller their altitude or that they have the ATIS. Never get worried — controllers will ask you for anything if you have forgotten it.
  5. Examine Chapter 4 and the Pilot/Controller Glossary in the Aeronautical Information and facts Manual for suggested phraseology.

If all else fails, use plain English! Not all predicaments lend themselves to proposed ATC phrases or you may perhaps just overlook how to say a little something. I was the moment departing an unfamiliar airport and as I referred to as floor I out of the blue understood I experienced no strategy where by I was on the airport. The call went one thing like this, “Littletown floor, Cessna 12345, ummm… ” (at this stage I was wildly searching about me) “I am at the Chevron signal, all set to taxi with Delta, departing to the west.” Whew — saved by the Chevron gas indicator! Floor identified me and permit me taxi.