Push-to-Talk Patience

Radio communication is a topic that causes stress for many pilots, particularly in busy environments such as areas around and within Class B airspace. But in order to make the system more efficient, we all have to exercise patience when we communicate with air traffic control, just like we have to wait our turn to get to the checkout stand in the grocery store.

Often when pilots are transferred to a new frequency, they are anxious to call in to announce their presence to ATC. But it’s worth waiting a few seconds before pressing the push-to-talk button. The controller may be in the process of providing instructions to another pilot or there may be a second or two of silence before a pilot or controller responds to a request or an instruction.

Your call will interrupt the communication and block the transmission, which means whoever is communicating must say the same thing over again. This makes the system inefficient and frustrates both pilots and controllers. I’m sure we’ve all heard the words “transmission blocked” on the radio.

So before you press the push-to-talk button and start your message, wait a couple of moments to make sure that nobody else is talking. If someone is communicating on the frequency, listen to what they say. Then you’ll know whether to wait for a response from a controller or pilot before it’s your turn to talk.

The controller and pilots on the frequency will appreciate your patience, just like the people in line at the grocery store appreciate that you don’t cut past them to the checkout.

Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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