Audio Lesson #9: With You on the Aircraft Radio

In my last article, I said if you listen to your aircraft radio, you might learn something. You’ll hear pilots who get the radio work right. You’ll also hear pilots who make a mess of the radios. You might assume professional pilots always say the right thing on the radio. That’s not always the case.

In this audio lesson, we’ll talk about how professional pilots can make a mess of radio work.

New! Click here for a transcript of the show(.PDF file).

Show notes:

    1. A member of our Insider’s area of this website emailed me with this question: “I have read/been told that ATC does not like pilots saying “123 Alpha Bravo with you” … yet I hear professional pilots(s) use that phrase all the time after switching frequencies. Just wondering if “With You” does bother controllers..?”

  1. I asked my controller friend, MT, what he thought. He said what’s most important is to use standard radio phraseology. “When you say something outside standard phraseology,” he said, “you introduce an unintended risk.”
  2. The pilot expression, “With you” is not in the AIM or the Air Traffic Controller Manual.
  3. Many pilots say “With you” as a habit.
  4. Habits are how we produce safe and consistent results flight after flight.
  5. Not all habits make good sense. Some habits are passed from pilot to pilot; even bad habits. See my article Your Radio Calls Suck for more on this topic.
  6. Saying “With you” on the radio does not make sense. It’s simply a bad habit–a space filler and a time waster.
  7. Added 7/12/11: I failed to mention this in the audio lesson. If you are VFR and using flight following with ATC, when you check in on a new controller frequency, say 1. The name of the agency you are calling, 2. Your callsign, 3. Your altitude, 4. “for VFR flight following.” Generally, when handed off from one controller to the next, the new controller should know why you are there, but adding “for VFR flight following,” helps remind controllers who are more used to controlling IFR traffic. There’s more about this in the audio show: “Ask an Air Traffic Controller: VFR Flight Following and Lost” Thanks to Cal for this addition.
  8. Action Step: Evaluate what others say on the radio. Learn to separate the good from the bad. If there is any question in your mind which is which, don’t hesitate to get another opinion.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Cal July 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm

Re: “With You”

What you didn’t say – at least not specifically – was what the pilot *should* say. This is something I’ve been asking other new pilots about and they have the same question. So basically we are talking about VFR pilots on FF/Advisories when getting transferred to another controller.

On my first attempt at this I had heard that I shouldn’t say “with you” so when the Toledo controller told me to switch to Detroit approach I just called and said “Detroit Approach, Archer 12345”. Of course, he came back and wanted to know what I wanted. That caused a big discussion about being on FF with Toledo, etc.

Now I’ve just been saying something like, “XXX Approach, Archer 12345 level 4500” which seems to work but I’m still not sure it’s actually correct. It seems like there should be a better way to just say, “Hey, they switched me over to your frequency and I’m now monitoring your frequency but I don’t want anything other than to know that I actually got the right frequency and you know I’m here and why.”

In short, I’d recommend adding some kind of comment about what the pilot – or at least a new VFR pilot on FF – *should* say when switching frequencies.


JeffKanarish July 12, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Hey Cal:

You are absolutely right. In audio lesson #9 I talked about what not to do, but not what to do. Your answer is the right one. When checking in with a new controller, it’s:

1. The Controller’s agency, for example “Boston Center.”
2. Your callsign.
3. Your altitude.
4. I’d recommend adding “for VFR flight following.”

If you’ve been handed off by a previous controller, the new controller should know why you are on the new frequency, but VFR handoffs are not as common as IFR handoffs, so it doesn’t hurt to add “for VFR flight following.” For more on what to say to a controller when requesting VFR flight following, see the audio show: “Ask an Air Traffic Controller: VFR Flight Following and Lost”

Thank you for pointing this out. It really helps me, and probably a lot of other pilots to get good feedback, and yours is excellent.



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