Listening to ATC Clearances is Good for You

Ready to copy clearance.

No doubt, passively listening to ATC clearances is good head work. The more you listen, the more it makes sense. There are plenty of websites wired into air traffic control communications, including ATC clearance frequencies.

You’ve heard that old adage: “What I hear, I generally forget. What I see, I may remember. What I do, stays with me.” There is no substitute for hands-on practice with ATC clearances.

To really exercise your memory muscles, and learn the cadence and pattern of ATC clearances, it’s best to:

  1. Listen to a clearance.
  2. Write it down.
  3. Most importantly, get feedback on whether you got it right.

It’s the feedback, or in ATC terms, “hearback,” where real learning takes place. I’m  working on a module for the ATC Radio Simulator that gives you hearback / feedback on whether you copied the clearance correctly.

One last note about learning to copy ATC clearances. Take comfort in knowing even old pros don’t always get it right. I wrote about that in a previous article. Just last week, I muffed copying a route clearance before departing Raleigh-Durham (RDU) International. The controller’s response was surprising. I’ll tell you about that next time.

In the meantime, tell me what trips you up when trying to copy clearances. Does the controller talk too fast for you to write? Do you not have a system of shorthand for writing the clearance quickly?

Share:

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

On Key

Related Posts

New Day, New Jet

"New day, new jet." That is an Air Force Instructor Pilot's standard statement that means the current training scenario is over, and a new one has begun. It is a line of demarcation that reminds student pilots it is time to move on to the next challenging scenario. It's a new day here at ATCcommunication.com,

Flying into Class B for the First Time

If you are anticipating flying into Class B airspace for the first time, not to worry. The procedures ATC uses inside of Class B are nearly identical to those used in other classes of airspace. The subtle variations in procedure will most likely be unnoticeable to you. What may jump out at you is the

Pilot’s Discretion Descents

As you approach your destination, ATC will clear you to begin a descent from your enroute altitude to some lower altitude. Often descent clearances will come in a series of lower altitudes. This series of step-down clearances is issued to allow you to descend without conflicting with other traffic at lower altitudes. Occasionally, and in

I Hate Holding

No one likes to have their forward progress stopped. You know what I mean. When you are stuck in a traffic jam on the road, it’s very aggravating. Waiting at a long red stoplight when you need to be somewhere can raise your blood pressure. Similarly, when ATC says, “Expect holding at [a navigation fix],”

Coping with Busy Airspace

The time between ATC’s radio transmissions differs depending on the amount of traffic in a controller’s airspace. The more traffic in a section of airspace, the less time between ATC transmissions. Take comfort in the fact that no matter how busy the radio seems, the words and phrases ATC uses remain exactly the same words

Scroll to Top