We’d Be Thrilled If You Simply Used Your Call Sign!


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I’ve spent a lot of time at this website talking to you about how to format your call sign when transmitting on the radio. While focusing on tiny details, I failed to recognize the bigger problem. Many pilots do not even use their call sign when talking to ATC. Time to slay that dragon.


There you are, whizzing around an uncontrolled airport pattern, surrounded by who-knows-what in other aircraft. If it’s your unlucky day, someone is going to try and swap paint with you on the downwind leg. What do you do and what do you say on the common traffic advisory frequency to unravel a developing furball? I mean besides, “Oh ____, this is gonna hurt!” I have the answer in this week’s show.

All that, plus Your Question of the Week.

Show Notes:

Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) 4?2?1. General

b. The single, most important thought in pilot- controller communications is understanding. It is essential, therefore, that pilots acknowledge each radio communication with ATC by using the appropriate aircraft call sign.

CFR § 91.123 Compliance with ATC clearances and instructions.
(a) When an ATC clearance has been obtained, no pilot in command may deviate from that clearance unless an amended clearance is obtained, an emergency exists, or the deviation is in response to a traffic alert and collision avoidance system resolution advisory. However, except in Class A airspace, a pilot may cancel an IFR flight plan if the operation is being conducted in VFR weather conditions. When a pilot is uncertain of an ATC clearance, that pilot shall immediately request clarification from ATC.

(b) Except in an emergency, no person may operate an aircraft contrary to an ATC instruction in an area in which air traffic control is exercised.

(c) Each pilot in command who, in an emergency, or in response to a traffic alert and collision avoidance system resolution advisory, deviates from an ATC clearance or instruction shall notify ATC of that deviation as soon as possible.

(d) Each pilot in command who (though not deviating from a rule of this subpart) is given priority by ATC in an emergency, shall submit a detailed report of that emergency within 48 hours to the manager of that ATC facility, if requested by ATC.

(e) Unless otherwise authorized by ATC, no person operating an aircraft may operate that aircraft according to any clearance or instruction that has been issued to the pilot of another aircraft for radar air traffic control purposes.

AIM 4?1?9. Traffic Advisory Practices at Airports Without Operating Control Towers

g. Self-Announce Position and/or Intentions

1. General. Self-announce is a procedure whereby pilots broadcast their position or intended flight activity or ground operation on the designated CTAF.

h. UNICOM Communications Procedures

(d) Report approximately 10 miles from the airport, reporting altitude, and state your aircraft type, aircraft identification, location relative to the airport, state whether landing or overflight, and request wind information and runway in use.

(e) Report on downwind, base, and final approach.

(f) Report leaving the runway.

Your Question of the Week

You are 20 miles from an uncontrolled airport, inbound for landing. You dial up the ASOS frequency for the airport and learn the surface winds are 340 at 10 knots. The airport has 1 north-south runway with a left-hand traffic pattern, so you are obviously going to land on Runway 35.

Next, you tune the airport’s Unicom frequency and request an airport advisory. There is no answer. You report your position at 10 miles from the airport, “Town and Country Traffic, Cessna 9130 Delta, 10 miles southwest, inbound for landing.” There’s no response to this. The radio is completely silent and you are certain you have the correct frequency tuned.

Given this situation, what do you do next? When you think you know the answer to that question, go to ATCcommunication.com/answers.

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