If You're A Pilot, Don't Say These 9 Things On The Radio

As pilots, there are things we can do to brush up our radio skills to make our lives, and the lives of controllers helping us, easier. So here are 9 things you'll want to avoid doing on the radio.

1) "N123AB ahhh cleared for the ILS ummm Runway 17R approach uhhh N123AB."

Leaving your ummm's, uhhh's, and ahhh's out of the conversation will keep your air traffic controller from tearing their hair out.

7Barnaby Kerr

2) Long Explanations

We learned on a visit to the Memphis ARTCC that controllers really appreciate quick and concise messages. Instead of explaining why you want to change altitude, just request the altitude change directly. If ATC is able to accommodate your request, they'll help you out.


3) "N123AB climbing through 1,000 feet FOR 2,000 feet."

Saying "for" sounds a whole lot like the number "four." Instead, simplify your call by saying "N123AB 1,000 climbing 2,000."


4) "N123AB turning TO 300."

Like the number four, saying "to" sounds a lot like the number "two." Try your hardest to leave confusing words like that out of your radio vocabulary when they aren't necessary.

2Flickr/Marcin Wichary

5) Holding a conversation over the CTAF frequency.

This video speaks for itself... Outside conversation on the CTAF frequency was a huge distraction on short final when we landed this King Air in Jonesboro, Arkansas.

6) Stepping on top of others.

Before you make a radio call, listen on the frequency to see if anyone else is in the middle of a transmission. And ALWAYS wait a few seconds if you've changed frequencies before transmitting, to make sure you don't step on someone else.

newprimary1Swayne Martin

7) Talking before thinking.

Have an idea of what your radio call or request will be before you make a transmission. If you need to, write down some notes about what you're trying to accomplish.


8) "XXXX Center, N123AB WITH YOU at 4,500 feet."

Keeping yourself concise on the radio means taking out un-needed words like "with you." If you're talking to them, they know you're "with them." Simply let the controller know who you are, where you are, and what you want. It'll allow your controller more time to do their job.

4Jim Raeder

9) "XXXX approach, N123AB LOOKING FOR the VOR runway 17R approach at XXXX airport."

Are you "looking for" the approach, or requesting the approach?

4Swayne Martin

You don't have to be perfect and the occasional umm or ahh on the radio isn't that big a deal. I, myself, used to be pretty nervous on the radios as a student pilot and am guilty of these bad habits too. But, as pilots, we always should set goals for improvement.

It all comes down to being clear, concise, and efficient on the radios. The way we talk on the radios isn't meant to sound fluid or smooth, it's made of fragments to get a job done quickly and safely. What else should pilots not say on the radio? Tell us in the comments below.

Thanks to readers Eric Basile and Corey Komarec for requesting this topic and giving tips. If you ever have ideas for an article or list, shoot one of us an email.


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