May 10, 2018

Terminology in VFR Communications



By Michel Pomerleau

In this last article on the subject of communications, I will play a little semantics in the discussion of a few aeronautical terms.

An inappropriate and wrongly used term. In some parts of the country, the non-standard terms installations and facilities have been introduced to replace airport, airfield and runway. For a start, Air Navigation Facility is defined as ‘Any facility used, available for use, or designated for use as a NAVAID including landing areas, lights any apparatus or equipment for disseminating weather information for signaling, for radio-directional finding, or for radio or other electrical communication, and any structure or mechanism having a similar purpose for guiding or controlling flight in the air or the landing and takeoff of aircraft’ The use of this improper term is often heard from pilots approaching airfields, as in the following example: ‘ xxxx Traffic, Piper FXYZ, 15 miles East of your installations, …….’. Further, there is no need to use such non standard terms in our radio work as has been documented in my previous articles, the phraseology guide and SmartPilot videos. Once initiated with a radio station located inevitably at an airport, there is no need to refer back to it in any way further along the transmission. Position reports, whether broadcasted approaching, transiting or overflying, can be kept short by stating for example: ‘Brandon Traffic, Overhead for downwind runway xx, or just: …….. Six miles West, will join ……,  or …….. Crossing runway XX to join left downwind’.

 The terms Land and Landing rarely used. These are two words extensively used in briefing rooms but rarely employed to describe intentions approaching an aerodrome and on final in the circuit. In fact, more often than not, it is replaced by two words: Full Stop. However, Full Stop is not defined in our guides but can be added to the aeronautically correct term: landing. Actually, a tower controller will always give a clearance to land, and in our reports, we approach an airdrome for landing. On the other hand, the words: full stop can be added by the controller if there is a need to stop short of an intersecting runway for instance. The official definition of landing is: ‘in respect of an aircraft, the act of coming in contact with a supporting surface and the immediately preceding and following acts’. The acts that follow the touchdown are the roll-out and the exit from the runway. In fact, when pilots intend to full stop, their aircraft only come to a stop at their parking spot.

This series of articles had the objective of improving the conformity of VFR aeronautical communications in and around non-controlled zones and areas. Hopefully, this contribution will help reverse some of the tendencies and discrepancies which characterize radio work in some regions. Keeping radio transmissions clear, concise and standardized should be important, not only for all licensed pilots, but specially for Flight School instructors.