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Do You Know What These 7 ATC Phrases Mean?

Mike Miley

See how many of these terms from the Pilot/Controller Glossary you can get right...

  1. 1) "Negative Contact:" Which of these is the WRONG use of the term?

    NEGATIVE CONTACT: Used by pilots to inform ATC that: a. Previously issued traffic is not in sight. It may be followed by the pilot's request for the controller to provide assistance in avoiding the traffic. b. They were unable to contact ATC on a particular frequency

    NEGATIVE CONTACT: Used by pilots to inform ATC that: a. Previously issued traffic is not in sight. It may be followed by the pilot's request for the controller to provide assistance in avoiding the traffic. b. They were unable to contact ATC on a particular frequency

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  2. 2) "Homing:" Your CFI says, "Stop homing to the VOR!" They mean:

    Correct! HOMING: Flight toward a NAVAID, without correcting for wind, by adjusting the aircraft heading to maintain a relative bearing of zero degrees.

    HOMING: Flight toward a NAVAID, without correcting for wind, by adjusting the aircraft heading to maintain a relative bearing of zero degrees.

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  3. 3) "Wilco" means:

    Correct! WILCO: I have received your message, understand it, and will comply with it.

    WILCO: I have received your message, understand it, and will comply with it.

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  4. 4) "Back-Taxi:" ATC instructs you to back taxi on Runway 35. They mean:

    Correct! BACK-TAXI: A term used by air traffic controllers to taxi an aircraft on the runway opposite to the traffic flow. The aircraft may be instructed to back-taxi to the beginning of the runway or at some point before reaching the runway end for the purpose of departure or to exit the runway.

    Incorrect. BACK-TAXI: A term used by air traffic controllers to taxi an aircraft on the runway opposite to the traffic flow. The aircraft may be instructed to back-taxi to the beginning of the runway or at some point before reaching the runway end for the purpose of departure or to exit the runway.

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  5. 5) "Minimum Fuel:" You tell ATC you have minimum fuel. You mean:

    Correct! MINIMUM FUEL: Indicates that an aircraft's fuel supply has reached a state where, upon reaching the destination, it can accept little or no delay. This is not an emergency situation but merely indicates an emergency situation is possible should any undue delay occur.

    MINIMUM FUEL: Indicates that an aircraft's fuel supply has reached a state where, upon reaching the destination, it can accept little or no delay. This is not an emergency situation but merely indicates an emergency situation is possible should any undue delay occur.

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  6. 6) "Traffic No Longer Observed:" When ATC says this, they mean:

    Correct! TRAFFIC NO LONGER OBSERVED: Indicates that the traffic described in a previously issued traffic advisory is no longer depicted on radar, but may still be a factor

    TRAFFIC NO LONGER OBSERVED: Indicates that the traffic described in a previously issued traffic advisory is no longer depicted on radar, but may still be a factor

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  7. 7) Your CFI says: "Call up approach and ask for flight following. Be ready for a 'discrete code.'" What's a "discrete code?"

    Correct! DISCRETE CODE: As used in the Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System (ATCRBS), any one of the 4096 selectable Mode 3/A aircraft transponder codes except those ending in zero zero; e.g., discrete codes: 0010, 1201, 2317, 7777; nondiscrete codes: 0100, 1200, 7700. Nondiscrete codes are normally reserved for radar facilities that are not equipped with discrete decoding capability and for other purposes such as emergencies (7700), VFR aircraft (1200), etc.

    DISCRETE CODE: As used in the Air Traffic Control Radar Beacon System (ATCRBS), any one of the 4096 selectable Mode 3/A aircraft transponder codes except those ending in zero zero; e.g., discrete codes: 0010, 1201, 2317, 7777; nondiscrete codes: 0100, 1200, 7700. Nondiscrete codes are normally reserved for radar facilities that are not equipped with discrete decoding capability and for other purposes such as emergencies (7700), VFR aircraft (1200), etc.

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You might want to hit the Pilot/Controller Glossary...

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Colin Cutler

Colin is a Boldmethod co-founder, pilot and graphic artist. He's been a flight instructor at the University of North Dakota, an airline pilot on the CRJ-200, and has directed development of numerous commercial and military training systems. You can reach him at colin@boldmethod.com.

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