The Need for Speed on Aviation Frequencies

Last time, we talked about why some pilots and air traffic controllers speed talk on aviation frequencies. We said there are several factors in play, including the need to get on the radio, say what needs to be said, and get off. In crowded airspace, radio time is at a premium. Everyone has something to say, but no one wants to tie up the frequency for very long to say it.

Professional Attitude

The closest comparison I can think of to this professional attitude is what you will find on a busy golf course on a Saturday morning. While each golfer is concentrating on his or her own game, each is also aware that there are other people on the course who are using the same tee boxes, fairways and greens. Courteous and situationally aware golfers will either pace themselves or step aside so as to not hold up the foursome playing behind them. Of course, there are those golfers who do neither; and their plodding, dawdling pace makes others miserable.

Too Fast Wrecks the Game

Here’s the key. While golfers with decent game try to keep things moving for the sake of everyone else, moving too fast leads to hooks and slices, missed putts, and a miserable score. In most things, you can only move so fast before the game breaks down.

Speed on the aircraft radio follows the same rule. There comes a point at which talking fast on the radio becomes self-defeating. If you transmit a message so rapidly that the receiver needs you to repeat the message, you’ve accomplished worse than nothing. You’ve tied up the radio with four transmissions instead of two.

Strive for Efficiency

It really doesn’t matter why you feel the need to talk fast: courtesy to others; you believe it reflects skill; it’s just a habit; you do it because the other guy is talking fast; or, you feel a sense of urgency. If you are talking so fast that you aren’t being understood, it’s time to slow down.

What it comes down to is this: There is no need for speed on the radio. What is needed is efficiency. Of course, that means get on the radio and get off. In between keying the mic and releasing the push-to-talk-button, deliberately pace your message so it’s understood the first time.

Take Action:

The next time you fly in controlled airspace, listen. Listen not only to what others are saying on the frequency, but also listen to yourself. Are you speed talking? Are you being understood the first time, every time? If not, slow down to a point at which your transmissions are efficient.

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