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Non-standard R/T - Nearly Killed You?  
User currently offline6YJJK From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 3236 times:

This morning I was thinking about an experience I had some years back, where non-standard radio phraseology could've (if combined with pilot stupidity) produced disastrous consequences. I'm sure there are lots of stories like this - what's yours?

Mine was at Perth (EGPT), where I used to work. As you can see from the link, the runways there are laid out in a triangle, and on this day, like most days, we were using 21 - so we were holding on the grass up by the threshold. The run-up was all done, and we were ready for departure.

Then Air Traffic changed the runway to 27 (which was then 28). This would've involved our taxiing back to the threshold of 16, then down the "grass taxiway" which used to run to about the midpoint of 27, holding to cross 27, taxiing all around the "kidney" taxiway and finally bouncing over the rough grass to holding point D - and that's what Air Traffic told us to do.

My instructor turned us round and started us on this trek. As we passed 16, Air Traffic called us up: "c/s, you can use the grass runway if you like." My instructor replied, "c/s thanks," and lined us up... then just kept chugging along, not adding any power, and - no flaps, for a soft field take-off? Huh? What's he doing? Oh.

Had I been solo, I'd have taken off without clearance, right across the landing traffic for 27.

Of course, it's never as simple as "shouldn't have said that", "shouldn't have done that"... These were the things I thought were pertinent:

  • "...use the grass runway..." - what else do you use a runway for?
  • As I say, I used to work there - so cups of tea in the tower and first-name terms all round. That, and the fact that two qualified pilots didn't need the same mollycoddling as the others on the frequency (early solo students), probably contributed to the informality.
  • Not only was I newly qualified, but this was only my second or third flight out of Perth... and it took many more before my instructor and I agreed I should be turned loose, due to the difference in procedures and sheer volume of traffic.
  • In fact, I'd qualified abroad and had rarely encountered ATC at all. In 55 hours, I was "cleared for take-off" 3 times - those magic words just weren't something that even occurred to me as being necessary yet.  blush 

So quite a few contributory factors, but the non-standard R/T would've set the ball rolling. I'm just glad my instructor was driving.

I was very quiet for the rest of that taxi - and for most of the flight.

12 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineFuturecaptain From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 3214 times:

Quoting 6YJJK (Thread starter):
where non-standard radio phraseology could've (if combined with pilot stupidity) produced disastrous consequences.

The Tenerife crash is a good example of what can happen when standard phaseology is not followed.

User currently offlineRyanair737 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 2, posted (8 years 3 weeks 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 3139 times:

Quoting Futurecaptain (Reply 1):
The Tenerife crash is a good example of what can happen when standard phaseology is not followed.

Or when pilots of one aircraft are in a hurry.

User currently offlineThirtyEcho From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 1710 posts, RR: 1
Reply 3, posted (8 years 3 weeks 1 day 6 hours ago) and read 2908 times:

We need to do away with "copy" and "copy that" from all of those astronauts out there who really should be saying "roger." And I don't mean "roger that."

The term "copy that" is used in spaceflight in response to instructions from Mission Control to perform certain detailed functions aboard ship. That could be instructions for garbage disposal, re-entry platform programming or flushing the toilet; it indicates that the the astronaut has written it down in detail, as commanded and in sequence.

There is never a reason to use "copy that" when the tower tells a C172 to enter a right downwind for runway 35 right.

User currently offlineBoeingOnFinal From Norway, joined Apr 2006, 476 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (8 years 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 2828 times:

And you don't say "Roger" either, you repeat the clearance/instruction.

User currently offlineCancidas From Poland, joined Jul 2003, 4112 posts, RR: 10
Reply 5, posted (8 years 3 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 2790 times:

"copy" is useful for ammended instrcutions or non-atc type transmissions. we usually use it when communicating with aircraft in holds for extended periods of time who need to have alternates approved and fuel burns and totals relayed to them. it's widely used on the in-house radios when communicating with those on the ramp. "roger" can serve the same purpose as above, though we tend to use the two interchangeably.

as for me, i had instructors drill into my head that standard terminology is the way to speak with anyone really, be it our ground crews when on the intercom or with atc now in the civilian world. goofing around on the radio is best saved for company frequecies.

"...cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home."
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 22488 posts, RR: 55
Reply 6, posted (8 years 3 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 2744 times:

Quoting ThirtyEcho (Reply 3):
There is never a reason to use "copy that" when the tower tells a C172 to enter a right downwind for runway 35 right.

There is never a reason to use "roger" in that situation either.


7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineCanadianNorth From Canada, joined Aug 2002, 3408 posts, RR: 8
Reply 7, posted (8 years 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2561 times:

Well I'm no expert, but driving in the controlled areas with our van I've never used "copy" or "roger". Always reply/call off/etc with all the appropriate details. Hasn't caused any problems that I know of sofar...


What could possibly go wrong?
User currently offlineNbgskygod From United States of America, joined May 2004, 893 posts, RR: 1
Reply 8, posted (8 years 2 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 2440 times:

I've lost count how many times I have asked a yes or no question and gotten a "roger" or "copy that" in response. It simply comes down to listening and responding to the question asked. If a controller gives an instruction or some pertanent information, read it back, lets everyone know you got the information.

Pilots are idots, who at any given moment will attempt to kill themselves or others.
User currently offlineAauzou From Australia, joined Jun 2007, 28 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (8 years 1 week 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 2121 times:

I was flying a downwind leg for rwy 17 at YMMB and when i gave my downwind call and intentions tower gave me my traffic info, told me there was an C172 on late downwind no sooner than the controller had finished speaking I saw an aircraft comming towards me on a downwind for the oposite rwy 35, i veered to the right and tower had a nut at the other pilot, that was close.

Another time I was overflying the lilydale CTAF at OFly height and and aircraft doing circuits at lilydale at overfly height was'nt giving any radio calls at all again a very close call.


User currently offlineWoodreau From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1129 posts, RR: 6
Reply 10, posted (8 years 1 week 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 2064 times:

Some one said "Repeat" instead of "Say Again" and got another full broadside from the battleship that was sitting offshore. That was back in the late 80's

I guess in aviation saying "Repeat" isn't so bad, but "Say Again" came into RT usage which carried over into aviation because "Repeat" today still means to re-shoot the last fire mission in artillery or naval bombardment.

Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
User currently offlineBsergonomics From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2002, 462 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (8 years 1 week 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 1886 times:



It was a fatal accident involving G-BABB - one of the aircraft in which I learned to fly - which resulted in part from non-standard RT procedures. The pilot was on his second solo flight.


The definition of a 'Pessimist': an Optimist with experience...
User currently offlineCanadianNorth From Canada, joined Aug 2002, 3408 posts, RR: 8
Reply 12, posted (8 years 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 1791 times:

On a related note, I have a question about ground communications.

I was always taught, usually hear, and always call off as "Whitehorse ground (or Whitehorse radio, depending on what time it is), ---- -- is clear of echo and on the apron". However, last night we were behind the tractor and their full call off was simply "Air North 76 is on the apron". Is that technecally correct, or was he cutting it a little shorter than what one should?


What could possibly go wrong?
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