Tower Talk

Perhaps I have come late to the concert on this one, however, I’ve been noticing a recent trend (perhaps bad or ok) listening to pilots issuing their readbacks to towers: (Example)

 

JFK Tower – Photograph courtesy of Natan Hoffmann.

 

Controller: “Airline NinrSixSeven Heavy, climb and maintain Flight Level OneTwoThousand and intercept BLUES.”

Me: “Rgr, Flight Level OneTwoZero and maintain direct to BLUES for Airline NinrSixSeven Heavy.”

 

Did I issue a proper readback?

 

THE USE OF ‘FOR’ IN A READBACK – ARE YOU ‘FOR’ SOMETHING?

 

… especially if your callsign has the digit “4” – It could get confusing.

My question to all pilots, ATPs, and especially controllers is this:

Are you “for” something or not?  And why?  Discuss……………….

 

jeremy

 

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10 thoughts on “Tower Talk

  1. Jeremy, I’ve been hearing some really bad readbacks. I think we all need to be better with this, and not be so casual as the case is becoming more times than not. And “for” is bad for so many reasons. There was a crash, many years ago, I wish I could tell you when, who, or where. But, what I do remember is they misunderstood the clearance because someone said, “Cleared for” And they descended to four thousand and hit a mountain.
    So I vote we can be cleared for something…but to somewhere.

    • I believe a lot of pilots become “nervous” when having to talk on the radio. I myself have/had this issue. Sometimes we forget to say our full callsign and sometimes we need to ask the tower to repeat an IFR clearence, but most of the time, you turn your head to the right and expect your “once upon a time” flight instructor to correct you and take over the radio. My advice to all pilots: Do not be afraid to talk on the radio. We all make mistakes. The tower is there to help you get to where you want or what you want! If you want to out it to the test, ask the tower for the local current time or for a cup of coffee (Just kidding), but I personally have asked for both just to get rid of this fear, and you know what the tower responded? He said “Skyhawk N34HD the current time is 14:20 local and if you want coffee, theres a starbucks right across the street on route 110!!! I was shocked that he actually said this but I was also happy. I had destroyed a fear that was once really hard to get rid of.

      Now, If A pilot requests permission to taxi and the tower says “Say again” take a few seconds and think about what you have to say. (I recommend to brief to yourself what your going to say before calling the tower or approach, etc.

      Remember. Always talk with confidence and don’t ever doubt yourself. I honestly believe that most pilots or student pilots have the hardest time learning the radio. Just be patient and DONT RUSH!
      Yours truly,
      -Natan Hoffmann
      Pilot in Republic Airport NY (KFRG)

      • Natan, thank you for stopping by. I remember you vividly telling me personally about the request for time and Starbucks. I am glad that the controller was able to rid of any fears you had. You do bring up a good and necessary point: Brief Yourself. It doesn’t matter how many hours a pilot has, no matter how busy the traffic is in a metropolitan airport, or any other factor. It is necessary on all levels. Once again thank you for stopping by and offering your comment.

  2. Karlene, yes I agree. I really think this falls under the category of your brilliant post on CRM (crew resource management). Some pilots either I’ll trained or so fatigued to the point where they’re not issuing proper readbacks which like you said, could be very deadly just by one small miscommunication. Thank you so much for stopping by and congrats on your new Facebook site!!

  3. My airport, Prescott, is full of both student pilots who don’t know what to read back yet and overconfident pilots who get really lazy about their readbacks to the point of being dangerous.

    Altitude and heading readbacks are two of the few things that are both required to be read back and required to be read back correctly. While it is correct to leave the tail number until the end of the transmission for the airliner, replacing “one two thousand” with “flight level one two zero” is wrong, and as a controller I would correct it, just to make sure the pilot didn’t accidentally think he was supposed to climb into the flight levels. A lot is going on on both sides of the mic; correct readbacks, even abbreviated ones, help the controller focus on his job and help the pilot stay on track.

    On top of that, the “for” is definitely bad form, if not exactly unacceptable phraseology. Some pilots pronounce it more like “fir,” and then the number 4 is clearly four, but that’s pretty arbitrary and I try not to use it unless it’s in the callsign.

    • Christine, thank you so much for stopping by. I didn’t even think about your first point regarding flight level readback; as “OneTwoZero” could be mistaken for something much less. As for the second point, I am rest assured that many will agree with you, my flight instructor included.

    • Christine, Thanks for your input. Once I visited the heart of approach control, I realized more than ever how important this is. While it’s fun to gab on the radio with improper phraseology, it’s just not safe.

  4. “For” is definitely a dangerous form… So as “to”. Respectively, they sound 4 and 2. Aeronautic phraseology should have word exceptions, they should be unicode. What I mean is: When there is a conversation between ATC and Pilot, the words used cannot be confused with numbers and numbers shouldn’t be confused with words. For sure, there is a way of not confusing them, and for that, both Pilot and ATC needs to know how to use them. What Christine mentioned made me think that it should be a legislation for reading back correctly, and both Pilot and ATC should request each other a correct, clear and eloquent command. Like Karlene taught me, SAFETY on the first place.

  5. “For” is definitely a dangerous form… So as “to”. Respectively, they sound 4 and 2. Aeronautic phraseology should have word exceptions, they should be unicode. What I mean is: When there is a conversation between ATC and Pilot, the words used cannot be confused with numbers and numbers shouldn’t be confused with words. For sure, there is a way of not confusing them, and for that, both Pilot and ATC needs to know how to use them. What Christine mentioned made me think that it should be a legislation for reading back correctly, and both Pilot and ATC should request each other a correct, clear and eloquent command. Like Karlene taught me, SAFETY on the first place.

    • Never too late to get in a good conversation. Yes, cleared to one thousand, Could that be 21000? Yes… so we say FL210. Cleared to one zero… nope, cleared to ten thousand.

      What really gets confusing is when flight 21 is cleared to fly a heading of 010, reduce speed to 210, and descend to 1000. Whaaaat?

      Yes… we all have to listen, speak clearly, and repeat back. And if there are two of you in the flight deck… confirm. Confirm. Confirm.

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