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Tips and techniques for talking to ATC while flying IFR

Issue 1, 18 December 2015

 

ATC’s use of visual separation.

“Skyhawk 30 Delta, traffic 11 o’clock and 7 miles, southwest bound, a PA-44 level at 5,000. Report that traffic in sight.”

What you say in response to this directive may completely change how ATC handles your flight. If you answer, “Skyhawk 30 Delta, traffic in sight,” ATC will turn responsibility for traffic separation over to you.

How a controller does this and why, in your next edition of the IFR Flight Radio Show. Bonus: We’ll also talk about what happens if you lose sight of the traffic after declaring the traffic in sight.


 

Responses to Traffic Advisories

Do you see traffic pointed out by ATC? According to the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), the only correct response is your call sign, and “Traffic in sight.” Don’t see the traffic? The only correct response in the AIM is your call sign and, “Negative contact.”

Most pilots use lingo to substitute for the correct phrases. When traffic is in sight, some pilots incorrectly say, “Tally ho!” or, “I have the traffic.” When unable to see reported traffic, some pilots incorrectly say, “No joy,” or, “Looking,” or, “Searching.”

“Tally ho” and “No joy” are borrowed from military flying. The military adopted these traditional phrases used in fox hunting. See the fox? “Tally ho!” Don’t see the fox? “No joy!”

fox

The hunting analogy is taken very literally by military flying forces. Typically, when fighter pilots are about to enter enemy territory, air traffic controllers sign off by saying to the pilots, “Change to tactical frequency approved. Good hunting.”

All those fighter phrases sound cool but they, along with every other form of lingo or slang are not recognized by the AIM. They have no place in general aviation radio.

Thinking About a New Headset?

If you are in the market for an aviation headset, you have a lot of choices. Maybe too many choices. Making a decision is tough. I can help.

Go to the Headset Buyer’s Guide at ATCcommunication.com. I’ve created a side-by-side comparison table of every popular headset in 3 different price categories: $100 to $299. $300 to $399. $500 and above. Surprisingly, I found no fixed-wing aviation headsets in the range of $400 to $499 worth including.

The Headset Buyer’s Guide has links to pages with more extensive reviews of each headset. There’s a place to add your review of a headset you already own. This is a pilot-driven effort, so get in there, take what you need, and add value for others with your own headset review.

The Air Traffic Controller’s Manual

Joint Order 7110.65 is the Air Traffic Control Manual. It is ATC’s bible for handling your flight. Most controllers refer to it simply as “Point Six Five”.

Pilots are not required to know what is in J.O. 7110.65. If you want to get inside the mind of your controller, it pays to spend a little bit of time scanning this document.

I refer to it quite often when researching material for my audio shows and books. You might be surprised to find how much it overlaps and references the Aeronautical Information Manual.

You may find a free .pdf download of J.O. 7110 at: www.faa.gov/documentlibrary/media/order/7110.65v.pdf


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