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FLIGHT SIMULATOR X - Notes from a virtual Air Traffic Controller and occasional virtual pilot


Page 1

The down-side of ATC sessions
Ways to mess up a game
Look before you leap
Sequence and simple checks for a flight

Page 2

To Take-off, Perchance to land
Watch your speed
Circuits, Flips, and Trips
Show me the way

Page 3

That dial is going backwards
On approach
Two white, two red, three green
Come on down

Page 4

Standard words and phrases
Commonly used aviation abbreviations
Murphy's Laws 1 - 4
Radio/Mic Check

Page 5

George is flying
Who are you?
Are we there yet?
Landing delays

Page 6

The Phonetic Code
Numeric Pronunciations
Clock Headings
Worded compass headings

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STANDARD WORDS AND PHRASES (and their meaning)

Clear, understandable communication is vital for effective pilot and ATC messages.  The list below details the most commonly used standard words and phrases for aviation communications.


  • Acknowledge - Let me know that you have received and understood this message.
  • Affirm / Affirmative - Yes.
  • Approved - Permission for proposed action is granted.
  • Break - Indicates a separation between messages.
  • Break, Break - Same as above but used in busy situations.
  • Cancel - Cancel the previously transmitted clearance.
  • Check - Examine a system or procedure (no answer expected).
  • Cleared - Authorised to proceed under the conditions specified.
  • Climb - Climb and maintain.
  • Confirm - I request verification of... (clearance/instruction/action/information).
  • Contact - Establish radio contact with... (Usually followed by an ID and frequency.)
  • Correct - That is correct, true, accurate.
  • Correction - An error has been made in this or message. The correct version is...
  • Descend - Descend and maintain.
  • Disregard - Ignore, consider that last transmission as not sent.
  • Hold short - Stop before reaching the specified position.
  • How do you read - What is the readability of my transmission?
  • I say again - I repeat for clarity or emphasis.
  • Line up and wait - Taxi onto the runway, await take-off clearance.
  • Maintain - Continue in accordance with the instructions specified.
  • Monitor - Listen in on (frequency).
  • Negative - No. or Permission not granted. or That is not correct.
  • Over - Transmission ended and I expect a response from you. (The phrase "Over and Out" is thus meaningless.)
  • Out - Transmission ended and I DO NOT expect a response from you.
  • Pass your message - Proceed with your message.
  • Read back - Repeat all, or the specified part, of this message back to me exactly as received.
  • Report - Pass required information.
  • Request - I would like to know... or I wish to obtain...
  • Roger - I received all of your last transmission. (Note: Must NOT be used in reply to a question requiring a direct answer in the affirmative (Yes) or negative (No).
  • Say again - Repeat all, or the following part of your transmission.
  • Standby - Wait and I will call you. (Note: It is not necessary to acknowledge a call telling you to standby.  Also, no onward clearance is to be assumed.)
  • Unable - I cannot comply with your request.
  • Verify - Check and confirm.
  • Wilco - I understand your message and will comply with it. (Abbreviation for "Will comply".)




As you would expect, aviation has a whole language of its own and that includes numerous abbreviations in day to day use.  Below are some of the most commonly encountered abbreviations and their meaning, though there are many more.  I have taken the liberty of including two of my own for the sake of humour, CFIT and TIM.

  • a/c - Aircraft
  • ACC - Area Control Centre
  • a/d - Aerodrome
  • ADF - Automatic Direction Finder
  • AGL - Above Ground Level
  • AMSL - Above Mean Sea Level
  • ATC - Air Traffic Control/Controller
  • ATIS - Automatic Terminal Information Service
  • ATZ - Air Traffic Zone
  • c/s - Callsign
  • CFIT - Controlled Flight Into Terrain
  • DH - Decision Height
  • DME - Distance Measuring Equipment
  • DVOR – Doppler VHF Omni-directional Ranging
  • ETA - Estimated Time of Arrival
  • ETD - Estimated Time of Departure
  • ETE - Estimated Time Enroute
  • FL - Flight Level
  • GPS - Global Positioning System
  • GPWS - Ground Proximity Warning System
  • GS - GlideSlope
  • IAS - Indicated Air Speed
  • IFR - Instrument Flying Rules
  • ILS - Instrument Landing System
  • IM – Inner Marker
  • IMC - Instrument Meteorological Conditions
  • LARS - Low Altitude Radar Service
  • LDA - Landing Distance Available
  • LITAS - Low Intensity Two-colour Approach System
  • LLZ - Localiser
  • MATZ - Military Aerodrome Traffic Zone
  • MDA/H - Minimum Descent Altitude/Height
  • MLS – Microwave Landing System
  • MM – Middle Marker
  • NDB - Non Directional Beacon
  • NM - Nautical Mile
  • OM – Outer Marker
  • PAPI - Precision Approach Path Indicator
  • PAR – Precision Approach Radar
  • QFE - Barometric setting at aerodrome level (Altimeter reads zero at aerodrome)
  • QNH - Barometric setting at sea level (Altimeter reads aerodrome height)
  • SID - Standard Instrument Departure
  • SRA - Surveillance Radar Approach
  • STAR - Standard Instrument Arrival Route
  • TAS - True Air Speed
  • TDZ - Touch Down Zone
  • TIM - Terrain Impact Mode
  • TODA - Take Off Distance Available
  • TOGA - Take Off / Go Around
  • TWR - Tower
  • VASI - Visual Approach Slope Indicator
  • VFR - Visual Flying Rules
  • VMC - Visual Meteorological Conditions
  • VOR - VHF Omni-directional Ranging
  • VRP - Visual Reporting Point


Nothing really to do with aviation specifically, I have included my favourite version of Murphy's Laws, a minor expansion of the original one (which is now Number 2).  Think of aviation in general and you'll see why I've included these.


  1. Nothing is as easy as it looks.
  2. What can go wrong, will go wrong, and at the worst possible moment.
  3. What mistakes are allowed to be repeated, will be repeated.
  4. Learn from the mistakes of others, you will not live long enough to make all of them yourself.


One of the first calls made by pilots, a radio check is useful to ensure that your radio/microphone set-up is correct.  If nothing else it helps to serve as a courtesy, a ‘Hello’ to all concerned, but it is a useful assurance to both pilot and controller that communications are working well.


  1. Unreadable.
  2. Readable now and then.
  3. Readable with difficulty.
  4. Readable.
  5. Perfectly readable.


(It is often helpful to add a description to numbers 1 - 3, for example: "Readability 2, very quiet".  One could always go a step further and say "Readability Zero" in some cases!)

Some comments here about radio communications…  Learn to listen carefully to what is going on via radio chatter, even the calls not for you can help build up a mental picture of what is happening near you.  This mental picture, often called ‘Situation Awareness’, is made up of many things, not all of them obvious, and listening to radio chatter can provide you with some clues.  Quite often you may know the other person you are talking to but be careful of idle chit-chat about last night’s soap opera or football score, someone else may be trying to use that frequency for aviation purposes.  Banter is fine when time permits but in a busy session concentrate on the task at hand.

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© Derek Haselden 2017