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.


Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on linkedin

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.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

On Key

Related Posts

Learning Radio Skills from Pilots

There is a misconception among new pilots that listening to other pilots speak on the radio is a good way to learn radio phrasing. My opinion is, maybe, but probably not. Listen to the audio in this 1:10 video. These are all presumably experienced pilots communicating with Peachtree Tower at Dekalb-Peachtree Airport (KPDK). Ear-opening, yes?

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,

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],”

Scroll to Top