Aircraft Radio Call Anatomy 104

I intend to go that-a-way

You are in the process of making initial contact with air traffic control on the airplane radio. You’ve said who you are. You’ve said where you are. Now it’s time to say what you plan to do—your intentions.

“Piper 774 Juliet Tango, over the tank farm at 3,500, inbound for landing at Fulton County.”

“Inbound for landing at Fulton County,” is your intention. Now air traffic control has a good idea where you are heading and what you plan to do when you get there.

Other examples of intentions:

“Touch and go.”

“Full stop.”

“Departing the traffic pattern to the northwest.”

“Proceeding north along the shoreline.”

“Descending to 4,500.”

Will Comply

Sometimes your intentions are nothing more than compliance with instructions given to you by an air traffic controller. For example, if you have requested flight following from air traffic control, you are likely to hear something like this from ATC: “Piper 7 Juliet Tango, you’re radar contact 11 miles north of the powerplant. Maintain VFR and advise of any altitude changes.”

In response to this radio call, you intentions should be to comply with ATC’s instructions. You can either say: “Piper 7 Juliet Tango will advise of any altitude changes,” or, in the interest of brevity, simply: “Piper 7 Juliet Tango.” In a future article, I’ll have more on exactly which instructions from ATC must be repeated verbatim.

Are we done dissecting your initial radio call to ATC? Not quite. There’s one last bit of anatomy to examine, and we’ll do that next time.

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