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Cannot Comply with an ATC Clearance: Unable

When you cannot comply with an ATC clearance, the magic word to use is “unable”. Simply saying “unable”, and nothing else, might not get you completely off the hook with ATC. I’ll explain why, and what to do about in this month’s edition of IFR Flight Radio. Show Resources From the Aeronautical Information Manual’s Pilot/Controller …

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St. Maarten Tower, You’re Driving Me Crazy!

It happened again this week. I bring it up so you’ll know you are not alone with this problem. This was at St. Maarten International–yes, that St. Maarten. The place where everyone hangs onto the fence, and their swim shorts, as the KLM 747 comes screaming overhead at 50 feet. “Didja get it? Didja get the …

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Airspeed Readback to ATC

Tampa Approach Control: “Cessna 30D, maintain 130 knots.” How would you read back that clearance? Here’s what the AIM says: 4−4−7. Pilot Responsibility upon Clearance Issuance b. ATC Clearance/Instruction Readback. Pilots of airborne aircraft should read back those parts of ATC clearances and instructions containing altitude assignments, vectors, or runway assignments as a means of …

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Reading Back a Final Approach Clearance

When giving you final instructions to intercept an instrument approach, an air traffic controller uses a very specific format. This format is: Position Turn Altitude Clearance to fly the specific approach Thank goodness this forms an acronym. We can’t fly without a proper acronym. PTAC, pronounced “Pee tack”, gladdens our aviator’s heart. Let’s look at …

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Timing is Everything in ATC Communication

Two people speaking to each other at the same time does not communication make. It’s true in a face-to-face encounter and it’s true when trying to communicate with ATC. When 2 pilots try to transmit at the same time, the result is just a bunch of noise on the radio. In this show, we are …

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Radar Contact: Cancel Takeoff Clearance

There is so much information packed into this week’s edition of Radar Contact, I don’t know where to begin. We’ll be talking about radio calls from ATC that confuse even experienced pilots. I’ll cover those with you so you will know exactly what to do should ATC ever give you one of these clearances. There …

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