Radio communications are about more than good Aviation English skills.  A little practical knowledge goes a long way in minimizing miscommunication.  Here are some simple suggestions to keep on target.

1. Timeliness

Both pilots and controllers need to pay attention to the timeliness of radio transmissions. If a transmission is made during a time of high workload, it could be hard to understand and copy.  Having to repeat transmissions takes time away from performing essential tasks. Repeated transmissions can cause delays for everyone.

2. Microphone

Pay attention to the placement of the microphone to ensure you can be heard clearly.  The face of the microphone should nearly touch the lower lip.  This is the easiest way to make sure your communications get off to a good start and the simplest way to minimize problems.

3. Even volume

Maintain an even volume when speaking.  Some flight students speak too quietly when first learning to speak on the radio.  Don’t be shy!  Speak just slightly louder than normal conversation. Remember that you need to speak over the sounds of the engine even if you have a noise canceling microphone. As in all areas of communication, pay attention to the way you speak!  Chances are that if you say it once correctly, you won’t have to repeat or be asked questions to confirm.

4. Rate of speech

The best rate of speech is defined as 100 words per minute.  You may also know that this is standard for ICAO level 4 testing…and it is the standard for a reason!  A speech rate of 100 words per minute is the best way to have a fast enough pace that communications flow well, yet slow enough that the recipient has time to process. It is no better to speak too fast than to speak too slowly. There has to be a balance between the two.If a radio transmission is made too quickly, the listener may not have time to copy and/or understand it. As mentioned earlier, traffic delays and congestion can result from communications that are too slow.

5. Stop and pause

Listen to the other radio communications that are happening.  Don’t key the microphone until you know what you want to say and there is time to say it.  The controllers at the nearby tower we visit are always telling students to take a few moments on the ground to listen to the flow of traffic.  Is it busy? Who is around you?
Also, if you are going to move your mouth away from the microphone, stop speaking.  Have you ever spoken to someone who turns away from the phone?  You can’t hear him or her if that happens.  Right?  Don’t do it on the radio either.

6. Enunciate clearly

It is so much easier to say your message clearly and once that mumbled and need to repeat it. Many times international students who are afraid of talking on the radio will speak very fast and figure that the controller will just know what the pilots means and respond.  That’s not safe for either person!
ICAO 3 and 4 students will benefit from Cleared to Communicate, the radiotelephony course that not only teaches standard phraseology, but breaks it apart into standard English.  Students learn not only the vocabulary but the patterning so they can be more proactive.
Have questions about quickly and easily setting up an Aviation English Program in your flight school?  Contact us today!