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11 ATC Phrases You've Never Heard

Thanks to Bose for making this story possible. Check out the full series here. And if you want to know why we fly with Bose, learn more about their headsets here.

Yes, these are real terms.

1) CATCH POINT

A catch point is a fix or waypoint that is a transition from a high altitude waypoint to a STAR (Standard Terminal Arrival Route) or a low-altitude navigation aid.

GolfCharlie232

2) BLIND SPOT

Your car has blind spots, and so does ATC. Blind Spot is used to describe portions of the airport that aren't visible from the control tower.

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3) FLAMEOUT PATTERN

Here's something you don't want to have to do. A flameout pattern is an approach flown by a single-engine military aircraft that has lost engine power. The pattern is flown over top of the runway, with continuous 180 degree turns.

defense.gov

4) MACH TECHNIQUE

How's your Cessna 172 mach technique? Ours is a little rusty too. Mach technique is actually a technique used by Air Traffic Controllers to assign speeds to jets that are at the same altitude. By assigning specific Mach numbers, ATC can keep equal spacing between the jets, or if they need, they can get them closer or further apart.

gc232

5) FUSED TARGET

No, this doesn't have anything to do with atoms. A fused target is a computer-generated symbol representing an aircraft's position, based on a primary return or radar beacon reply, and shown on ATC's digital display.

6) NORDO

NORDO (no radio) is a term assigned to aircraft that can't communicate, or aren't communicating when they are supposed to be.

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7) PITCH POINT

Isn't that where you lift off the runway? Not quite. A pitch point is a fix or waypoint that is a transition point from a low-altitude NAVAID to a high altitude waypoint.

GolfCharlie232

8) SKYSPOTTER

A skyspotter is a pilot who has received special training in observing and reporting inflight weather. You might hear someone end a pilot report with 'skyspotter'.

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9) STOP STREAM

You probably won't hear this one over the radio, but if you do, it's an ATC request for a pilot to stop using their electronic jamming equipment.

navy.mil

10) TETRAHEDRON

Is this a geometry quiz? Nope. It's kind of like a windsock. Except it's a tetrahedron.

uark.edu

11) WORDS TWICE

Say again? Say again? 'Words twice' is used when communication between ATC and a pilot is difficult, usually due to a language barrier. Basically, it means that you want the other person to say every phrase twice. Who knew?

Boldmethod

So now the next time you hear one of these from ATC, you'll know what they're talking about.


What are pilots saying about their Bose headsets? Find out and learn more here.


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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