The following transmission from a tower controller has a clearance and an advisory. Can you tell which is which?

ATC says, “Skyhawk 9130 Delta, Runway 16, line up and wait. Traffic will be crossing downfield.”

When the controller said, “Runway 16, line up and wait,” he was directing Skyhawk 9130 Delta to do something. When he said, “Traffic will be crossing downfield,” he was advising the pilot of a circumstance that is relevant to the flight.

When a controller tells you to do something, you are required to read back that information. The readback lets the controller evaluate your understanding of what he just told you to do. If after listening to your readback he feels you did not understand him correctly, he can provide additional information to clarify his meaning.

An advisory message from ATC is designed to make you aware of a circumstance that affects your flight. ATC advisories do not require you to take action. Note in our example, “Traffic crossing downfield” tells you why ATC is directing you to line up and wait. It’s good information but does not require you to do anything directly in response. Lining up and waiting on the runway happens in response to the clearance that came earlier, not in response to the advisory that came after the clearance.

In summary, when ATC tells you to do something, read back what he tells you to. When ATC provides information that does not require you to do anything, there is no requirement to read back the information.

Here’s how you would reply to the example transmission at the beginning of this article. “Skyhawk 9130 Delta, Runway 16, line up and wait.” That’s it. You would note, but not read back the bit about traffic crossing downfield.

One last bit of advice. If ATC gives you advisory information only, acknowledge the advisory with your call sign. For example, if ATC says, “Skyhawk 9130 Delta, traffic your 1 o’clock and 10 miles, westbound, 1,000 above you, no factor.” This advisory is helpful but it does not require you to do something with your aircraft in response. Simply reply, “Skyhawk 9130 Delta.” This tells the controller you heard him. Saying nothing in response to an advisory-only would leave the controller wondering whether you heard him. Absent any acknowledgement from you, he would likely repeat the advisory.

Questions about the distinction between a clearance and an advisory? Comment below or write to me directly at Jeff@ATCcommunication.com.

Before you go

Are you in the market for a new radio headset? I can help with your research.

Check out my Headset Buyer’s Guide for reviews from fellow pilots and some recommendations of my own.

{ 0 comments }

Here’s a worthwhile read about radio errors, by John Zimmerman, at studentpilotnews.com.

The issues raised in this article are just as prevalent today as they were when this article was written in 2012. Enjoy, or read it and weep, depending on your perspective.

http://studentpilotnews.com/2012/05/09/the-7-deadly-sins-of-radio-communications/

{ 0 comments }

Contacting Flight Service; Searching for IFR Traffic in an Uncontrolled Pattern

August 30, 2016

If you can get all the aviation weather data you need online, do you really need to know how to contact Flight Service on the radio? It depends on who you ask. I say yes. A Flight Service agent can save time and point you in the right direction. An agent can quickly sift through […]

Read the full article →

Experience on the Radio Can Be the Worst Teacher

August 18, 2016

Experience means jack if you aren’t open to learning something new from your experiences. Fair warning, learning by experience without distinguishing good from bad can lead you to very dark and dangerous places. Nowhere is this more true than in an aircraft cockpit. Let me explain. I’ve been flying fixed wing airplanes since I was […]

Read the full article →

Making Mistakes on the Aircraft Radio

June 21, 2016

In this episode, we’ll talk about why you make mistakes on the radio and what it says about your performance as a pilot. I think my analysis will surprise you (in a good way). Also, some pilots have asked interesting questions about the details of reporting your position in an uncontrolled airport pattern. Just when […]

Read the full article →

Coming Up in Radar Contact

May 30, 2016

Next Radar Contact Show, “Mistakes Happen”. We all make mistakes when transmitting on the radio, even pilots like me with decades of experience. Last night, flying from Nagoya, Japan to Honolulu, I got mentally out of synch with the person at the other end of the radio. I made several transmissions that had no connection […]

Read the full article →

Aircraft Color in Place of Call Sign is a Bad Idea

April 24, 2016

“Town and Country Traffic, red and white Skyhawk, 4-mile final, Runway One Seven, Town and Country.” “Town and Country Traffic, blue and white Warrior, turning base, Runway One Seven, Town and Country.” “Town and Country Traffic, red and white Skyhawk, final, Runway One Seven, Town and Country.” Do you think saying your aircraft’s color scheme […]

Read the full article →

Next Radar Contact Show: Call Sign by Color, and Picking Up VFR Flight Following

April 21, 2016

If you’re using your aircraft model and color scheme to identify yourself in an uncontrolled airport pattern, I have a good reason to quit immediately. Let’s talk about that reason in the next edition of the Radar Contact Show. It’s been awhile since we talked about how to make initial contact with ATC when requesting […]

Read the full article →

Common Traffic Advisory Frequencies and ATC as Customer Service

April 10, 2016

This edition of the Radar Contact Show consolidates the previous 3 articles about using a Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) and about ATC as customer service organization. If you would rather read about CTAF, you can find the full articles using these links. How to Select and Use the Correct Common Traffic Advisory Frequency It’s […]

Read the full article →

It’s What You Don’t Hear on the Radio that Can Get You

April 7, 2016

In the past I’ve talked about the importance of listening to the aircraft radio to build situational awareness. Nowhere is this more important than in an uncontrolled airport traffic pattern. Here’s an example radio call you might hear in an uncontrolled pattern. “Town and Country Traffic, Piper 525 Yankee Golf, four mile straight-in, Runway 17, […]

Read the full article →