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Jordan Hogan

feedback UK ATC Phraseology

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Jordan Hogan

Hello Everyone,


Hope im not out of place saying this but it is something that i have noticed during my training for Vatsim ATC.

Each mentor ive had has insisted on using a certain way for giving taxi instructions, for example

"BAW001 taxi holding point J4 Runway 08R Via J"

Now due to my line of work at EGKK i listen to ATC all the time when working, and the way every air traffic controller issues taxi instructions is, 

"BAW001 taxi J hold J4"

Many a time just 

"BAW001 J J4"

Due to me hearing this all the time IRL, i have been making the "mistake" of using this way of instruction on the network and being told by the mentor that it is incorrect.

Im just wondering if there is a specific reason that it is done this way on Vatsim and it not the same way as IRL.






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Fergus Walsh

I think it's because even though they're in the UK, phaseology is different from controller to controller. Someone may say 'you have 30 track miles until touchdown' where as someone else would just say '30 miles'. 

What we as a division rely on is CAP413 (R/T Manual). In that, it says something like 'Taxi holding point J1, runway 23R, via J.

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Ollie Latham

Pretty much every UK airport varies in phraseology and whilst it would be great to teach everyone exactly what the controllers say IRL, it's not at all practical.

When your controlling on the network normally (not undergoing any training), there's no real issue using whatever phraseology you want, but when mentoring we have to give students some sort of rules to follow, like Fergus said, the CAP documents.

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Louie Lister

I never give the runway in my taxi instructions. By the time they're are ready for taxi, it's pretty evident what the active runway is.

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Andy Ford

Most important by far is clarity. Of course there are situations where CAP413 specifies a specific order of words: for example, for takeoff clearances it must be "<Runway> cleared for takeoff" and not the other way around. But in others where it doesn't specify, I tend to go with as long as it's clear, unambiguous and doesn't have lots of superfluous words that don't add anything, then it's probably ok.

Personally, I don't mind if people use "BAW001 taxi holding point J4 Runway 08R Via J" or "BAW001 taxi J hold J4". Personally, I use the second of the two 🙂

Edited by Andy Ford

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Fraser Cooper

Having clear and concise RT is important for when you move up the ratings. Andy for example on an Area position could be top-down many airfields. Having RT that is clear and short, means you waste little RT time in busy situations.

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Michael Pike

If you could ask those controllers what they were trained to say in their basic training (which is not airport specific) - what would that be I wonder? Once qualified - they can adapt what they've learnt to the specific job in hand in accordance with their local instructions. That's what we are attempting to do.

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Adam Farquharson

We have to teach standard phraseology but in an exam I doubt anyone would mark you down for saying it differently as long as it is clear and concise. For example in Heathrow controllers are given different phraseology due to the specifics of the size and layout of the airfield. For training we teach the standard phraseology so we can make sure that everyone has a good enough level and it is very important that you use the same phraseology every time so that when you get to higher positions and high pressure situations the ground stuff just comes naturally. Also when people are trained irl they will be taught standard phraseology but as time goes on controllers will adapt and find things that work better for them. The other thing is that Gatwick is one of the 2 airports across the UK that the ATC is not provided by NATS which could lead to different phraseology. I use standard phraseology 98% of the time and it works near enough perfectly.

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Jason Currethers

As someone who frequently listened to RT at KK, I also had the same questions during my first few sessions. At first I thought it was really pedantic to expect completely standard RT on VATSIM, but I know better now, ~40 hours into my illustrious VATSIM controlling career.

In RL, controllers have their own "personalities" when they control, variations in RT, frequency jokes, inflections in speech, etc. Those of you not lucky enough to fly IRL, or listen to RT as part of your job can go to GlobalTuners or such to know what I'm referring to. If someone fails to specify the runway, or give their full position (i.e Gatwick Ground over Ground) it doesn't matter, pilots are all educated to the same standard and know what procedures are. 

Quite simply you are unlikely to find a BAW 737 at Manchester but with a VFR flightplan from Heathrow to Gatwick.

On VATSIM, it's important to remove all ambiguity from RT, because there is no set standard required from the pilots, so we cannot assume they know where a certain holding point is, or if they should be reading NOTAMS, or whatever the case is. I'll adjust my RT to suit the pilot. If they don't sound incompetent when I speak to them, I'll relax. If they sound new (read:incompetent) I will be very clear with my RT. 


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Callum McLoughlin

It’s a lot like you driving test. There is a “right way” which is taught and examined, there is always a personal way which comes with and only leads to successful results with experience.

A student ATCO (I.e those controlling above their rating, or having not been examined for it) lacks experience. As such, you should stick to the book because it’s been written to work every time.


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William Grimsley

I have the opinion of if it gets the correct information across, then you've done the job correctly. 🙂

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