I just finished an airline trip where I flew into a major airport twice in two days. (The airport was not in Atlanta.) There, I heard a lot of radio transmissions from pilots of a commuter airline that uses this airport as a hub. I wish I hadn’t.
I got the feeling the air traffic controllers wish they didn’t have to hear it either. And, who wants to share airspace with pilots who can’t work up the energy to speak correctly on the radio?
It seems like a cultural thing at this commuter airline for pilots to be sloppy and lazy on the aircraft radio. Almost none of the pilots used their airline’s name in their callsign. All they said was the four digits of their callsign. For example, 5123, 4526, 5921.
To make it worse, the pilots spoke extremely fast. So fast, it was hard to understand what they were saying. The speed at which they talked didn’t have anything to do with the amount of traffic on the radio. I could understand the desire to talk quickly if the frequency was busy, but these pilots talked fast and slurred their words even when the radio was relatively quiet.
So why is it this way at this particular airline? I don’t know. Maybe it’s cultural, as I said. Pilots pass bad habits from one to the next. Or, maybe it’s because there is no formal training in radio discipline, and this is one result.
Or maybe it’s just laziness. When they are up and down in their airplane 3, 4, or 5 times a day, maybe they get tired of talking in the structured method required by the F.A.A. Or maybe they are just tired. I don’t know.
What I do know is, it sounds bad. It requires more of the air traffic controllers to listen and interpret what these pilots say. Those of us who listen to the radios, and try to build a mental picture of what is going on, miss a piece of the puzzle when it involves pilots who don’t communicate clearly.
If nothing else, it displays a lack of discipline that worries me. Especially when you consider these pilots are responsible for flying hundreds of warm bodies around the country every day. I’m done venting. Over to you. What do you think?