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10 Tips To Make Better Radio Calls On Your Next Flight

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.

1) Avoid Long Explanations

Before you key the mic, think about the most concise way to make your radio call. ATC doesn't need a long, drawn out explanation of why you're requesting a new altitude. A quick "requesting 6,000 feet due to turbulence" is sufficient.


2) Keep Conversations Off-Frequency

Nothing's worse than getting trapped on the other side of a mic, unable to speak because a crew is having a conversation on-air. Keep unnecessary conversation on separate frequencies.

3) Avoid Stepping On Other Pilots and Controllers

Before you click the mic after switching frequencies, wait a second to make sure no one is in the middle of a transmission or copying instructions.

4) If ATC Can't Find Your Flight Plan, Talk To Flight Service

If ATC can't locate your plan, it's often times best to contact flight service to file a new one. While ATC is able to help you, copying an entire set of flight plan information will take up a lot of frequency time.


5) Write It Down

If you're still getting comfortable with radio calls, keep a pen and paper nearby, or use your EFB to jot down notes on an ATC clearance. If you get it right the first time, ATC won't have to follow up with a second call with corrections.


6) Study Local Landmarks and Procedures

If you know local landmarks and procedures, ATC will have an easier time giving you instructions for an arrival or departure procedure.


7) Add A Personal Touch

Controllers are people too! A simple "good morning, good afternoon, or g'day" are nice ways to initiate or end a call with a new controller.


8) Talking Too Fast Will Slow Everyone Else Down

Talking too fast makes ATC's job harder, especially when they have to ask for clarification because they simply couldn't understand you. Worse yet, other airplanes nearby may need to hear your transmission for separation purposes. Finding a happy medium of speed and clarity is the best way to handle radio calls.


9) Follow "Unable" With What You CAN Do

Avoid replying to an ATC instruction with a simple "unable." If you can briefly explain why you're "unable," or what you CAN do, that will help controllers out.

Corey Komarec

10) Get Weather Information Early

Before you contact a tower or approach controller, get the local weather information. They'll want to know you have the ATIS, and preemptively letting them know you have it reduces their workload.

What else can you do for smoother interactions with ATC? Tell us in the comments below.

Curious about the new Bose A30 headsets? Learn more and read the reviews here.

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