You would think there would be a simple rule for what a pilot must read back when ATC transmits to a flight. There is no rule, but there is guidance. Only, the guidance is vague and open to misinterpretation. The Aeronautical Information Manual says, “The read back of the “numbers” serves as a double check between pilots and controllers and reduces the kinds of communications errors that occur when a number is either “misheard” or is incorrect.”
Great! According to the AIM we should read back numbers, right? No, or at least that’s not the whole story. There’s quite a bit more to it. If you followed the AIM and only read back numbers to ATC, you may set yourself up for a deviation from a clearance. To see what I mean, check out the following articles on the subject.
If you’d like to practice copying clearance and reading them back in real time, check out my course Clearance Magic. This online program is a complete course in copying ATC clearances when flying IFR.