Monday, October 17, 2005

Say Again?

In Canada it is illegal to disclose the contents of station to station radio transmissions. In effect, this means that when I tell you about the guy in the Luscombe trying to sell a used boat to the ground controller over the radio, or the tower controller telling an pilot arriving to no traffic and calm winds to "pick a runway, any runway" that I am technically in violation of a law whose name and number I don't know.

No one seems to mind, although I suppose it might be enforced if a newspaper reporter monitored transmissions from an aircraft in distress and used them to file a story that was not otherwise available. It's not illegal to listen to the transmissions: plenty of people without aeronautical radio licences buy scanners and listen to the voices of pilots and controllers. It's interesting to hear different accents and different styles, and part of my job is to build a mental picture of where everyone is based on their position reports and the clearances they have received.

"Alfa Bravo Charlie you are cleared to land runway 07. Hold short runway 18."

"Alfa Bravo Charlie cleared to land 07, hold short 18."

"Foxtrot Golf Hotel continue number one runway 18, expect clearance short final."

"Foxtrot Golf Hotel"

"Romeo Sierra Tango cleared takeoff runway 18, traffic landing 07 will hold short, no delay, traffic on final."

"Romeo Sierra Tango rolling 18"

I can see the picture, with traffic operating on intersecting runways, and the controller fitting them in between one another in different directions, like the RCMP musical ride. It's fun to be on top of it, and know who is going to get the next call, what you are waiting for before you get your clearance, and it's a matter of safety to know where everyone is. If the pilot of RST above hears ABC call an overshoot, he should realize that could be relevant to him. If FGH hears RST reject the takeoff, then FGT knows he's going around.

All this is interesting enough that some people listen to it for fun. Sites like this one, hosted at Futura Studios have live radio feeds so you can listen to the chatter from various parts of the world. At Dallas Fort Worth you'll hear the word "bridge" in clearances a lot. It's not special jargon: DFW actually has taxiways that cross bridges over the highways coming into the airport. It will help your listening if you get an airport diagram and a local terminal chart.

Enough of my readers thank me or ask me for funny ATC stories that I thought I'd post this link so you can listen to live ATC and discover some gems of your own. Just not from Canada. I remember when I was a student pilot there was a radio feed available from a Canadian tower, for a while, but it was shut down.

In an additional note, Eric, Director of Futura Studios Digital Design Studios, noticed some flaws in the airplane image I use on this site and in my profile. He sent me some great corrected images, and they should now be the ones you see at top left and in the sidebar. What do you think?

No comments: