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Can we have a brief discussion about radio communications?

The FAA has made an admirable effort to turn radio communications into a formula. We should endeavor to follow standard phraseology, but the occasional digression into plain english is totally acceptable when you're not quite sure how to communicate your needs in standard phraseology. Don't sweat it. Your first two jobs working the radio are to understand and to be understood. Standard phraseology is what comes third.

What I beg you not to do, both for safety and so other people don't have to be embarrassed for you when they hear it, is to use slang you've picked up from listening to others on the radio. I have two particular colloquialisms in mind:

(1) Anything relating to "the active." People say they're clearing "the active," because they don't know what runway they're on. If you're just going to say that you're clearing a runway, it's best not to.

(2) In response to a traffic callout from ATC, a response that you have them "on the fish finder." First, it's not a fish finder. Second, ATC doesn't care if you have them on your fish finder. They want to know if you can maintain visual separation. That you have them on your fish finder is not responsive to the question being asked. Your choices are "negative contact" or "traffic in sight."

Geoff Rapoport

Safety and Training


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