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ATC Communications: How To Frustrate ATC

Source:, Featuring Bob Adelizzi

Bob A:

Another thing is...if you have given a position report that is 235 miles southwest of Bar Harbor, well it is nice that you have these sort of toys in the airplane, but we don't recognize that. We don't have that. If you work in the center, fine; they will be able to see you because they go out 500 miles in the sector. (TRACONs) only go out 30 to 40 miles. The other thing is we could say radar contact to somebody 5 miles southwest of such and such a place. "Well we're actually 5.2 miles." Don't start.


Stuff like 20 questions. That 's the, you know...

"Approach, 1 2 Alpha."

"1 2 Alpha, go ahead."

"We've got a request."

"Say your request."

"We want a shortcut."

And you do this 20 questions back and forth. Or you'll hear it sometimes with the initial call:

"Approach, 1 2 Alpha."

"Go ahead."

"Request VFR advisories."

"Well where are you?"

"235 miles southwest of Bar Harbor."

"Can you give me a closer point?

And you know, it's: "What altitude are you at?"

And then they come back with that.

Then: "What's your type of aircraft?"

And you play 20 questions back and forth.

Bob A:

You're tying the frequency up; it does us absolutely no good. It is going to do you any less, and some people's patience might be a little bit exasperated by then. So it is just best to just give "I'm 10 miles southwest to Lawrence." Or give me a shorter range fix.


And everything - "10 southwest to Lawrence, 5500 to Nashua, in a 172." Just very, very concise. We don't need to know that you are a red and white Cessna 172 - just the basics.

Bob A:

And the first thing that I have always preached at any seminars is, proper communications. With all communications, get our attention first. And we can either say, "Go ahead," because now we reserve time on the frequency. If you start with 20 questions, at least we got room for about 4 of them. But if you just start going off saying everything that you wanted to do, where you are, and everything else - or worse, "We would like practice approaches at…." And they start listing all the approaches that they want to do - I am not writing it down because, first of all I should have been prepared for this, and I do not have that a good memory.

So, just get our attention first and we will talk.