VFR - Callsign for initial tower contact

VFR - Callsign for initial tower contact

Postby AZWildk4t » Fri Feb 26, 2021 3:03 pm

Newbie here and have a question about callsign when making initial contact with tower.

Yesterday I flew my first flight on PE from Sunnyside to Yakima. My initial contact was similar to "Your first flight". "Cessna N635ND is 10 miles out...". The controller recognized it was my first flight. He asked for the full callsign, which confused me. I said I didn't understand, which he asked if it was a Skyhawk, Caravan, Citation, .... I figured he needs this to help with spacing around the airport. I responded "Cessna Skyhawk N635ND is 10 miles out..."

My question is this:
(1) Do I use "Cessna Skyhawk" or "Skyhawk" on initial contact?
(2) After initial contact do I use "Cessna 5ND" or "Skyhawk 5ND"?

I read through AIM Section 4.2.3 and 4.2.4 and still wasn't sure which is correct.

Keith - I want to thank the Controller for his patience and making sure I use the correct phraseology. I had to try it a couple of times but finally got it correct and got clearance to land.

-- Steve
AZWildk4t
 
Posts: 4
Joined: Sun Feb 14, 2021 1:27 pm

Re: VFR - Callsign for initial tower contact

Postby Keith Smith » Fri Feb 26, 2021 4:52 pm

This is covered in the communications workshop here: https://www.pilotedge.net/workshops/atc-communications.

You can use make OR model, rather than make AND model for your callsign. So, never "Cessna Skyhawk 635ND." You can say "Cessna 635ND" or "Skyhawk 635ND".

ATC needs to know the type at some point if they don't already have a flight progress strip in place for you (ie, it's your first call and you don't have an IFR flight plan on file), so I'd make the initial call with your model (Skyhawk). If you want to swap to make (Cessna) later, feel free.
Keith Smith
 
Posts: 9925
Joined: Sat Oct 09, 2010 8:38 pm
Location: Pompton Plains, NJ

Re: VFR - Callsign for initial tower contact

Postby tjahns » Sat Oct 02, 2021 10:39 am

Here's an anecdotal story involving my RW CFII and his experience operating out of HND (Henderson Executive) in Las Vegas, which is in the PE ZLA...

So, I watched the workshops some four years ago and gleaned that, at least on PE, Skyhawk flyers should say "Cessna", not "Skyhawk" because, well, pretty much everyone is flying a Skyhawk on PE, and that if you're flying something different, then you would have bragging rights and would more-or-less be a show-off by saying "Skylane". Apologies, Keith, if this is not still the case. If it is still the case, based on what I write below, I recommend you update your Communications section in the Workshops.

Anyway, the RW tower at HND is primarily dealing with two different types of Cessnas: 1) Skyhawks from flight training schools, and 2) Citations shuttling executives around. They are vastly different types of Cessnas of course. One is a simple and slow piston powered aircraft while the other is a very fast (comparatively) twin engine jet. So yeah, if you check in merely by saying "Cessna", the tower controller will want to know your type for spacing, etc. He'll have to ask, which takes up valuable airwave time at a busy airport. My CFII goes so far as to say that he will *always* say "Skyhawk" (when flying a C172 of course) in his callsign. Further adding that if a controller replies back with "Cessna [rest of callsign]", he keeps saying "Skyhawk [remainder of callsign]". It's no big deal in the RW he tells me.

I only mention this because as a neophyte, I am a creature of habit and when I was chair flying while saying "Cessna", it really discombobulated me trying to switch to saying "Skyhawk" for my CFI. It really messed up my first RW experience handling the radios in fact.

I know the AIM is ambiguous on the subject. Perhaps if you're under flight following and you've already given your type, controllers will see C172 on their screen and your saying "Cessna" is good enough, but I'm thinking on initial contact (and also for consistency's sake, which has merits of its own), it'd be best to get in the habit (even on PE, which is primarily for RW training) of saying "Skyhawk" consistently. Just my $0.02 (and my CFII's adamant requirement). Your mileage may vary.

Tim Jahns
Tucson, AZ
tjahns
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:42 am

Re: VFR - Callsign for initial tower contact

Postby Kevin_atc » Sat Oct 02, 2021 5:37 pm

tjahns wrote:I watched the workshops some four years ago and gleaned that, at least on PE, Skyhawk flyers should say "Cessna", not "Skyhawk"


Do you have the specific workshop/time stamp where this is stated? I’d be interested to hear the context.
Kevin
PilotEdge Marketing
Want faster answers to your forum questions? Join our Discord community: www.pilotedge.net/discord
Kevin_atc
 
Posts: 1985
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:01 pm

Re: VFR - Callsign for initial tower contact

Postby tjahns » Mon Oct 11, 2021 7:14 am

Kevin_atc wrote:Do you have the specific workshop/time stamp where this is stated? I’d be interested to hear the context.


Apologies, I may have misspoken. I reviewed my notes from four years ago in reference to Workshop 2 re call sign usage at 1:01:45 into the YouTube video here https://youtu.be/msfxcx3vUsc?t=3704. The presenter (Keith, I think) indicates that either form (just as stated in the AIM) is correct: November, make, or model, but saying more than one of them at a time will cause controllers to want to "sacrifice small woodland creatures". Also in the workshop video is stated that *Citation* owners would likely not say "Cessna" because, well, they are flying a jet, and (with a chuckle) wouldn't be [paraphrasing and embellishing] caught dead saying something that could imply they were flying a lowly Skyhawk. (That's my interpretation, but that seems to be the gist of it in context.)

Anyway, since I have been going online the past few days (connecting with callsign "N167PM" via the X-Plane plug-in), I have been saying (per my CFI's instruction) "Skyhawk 167 Papa Mike" (and trying to remember to abbreviate my callsign after the controller does, but still always saying "Skyhawk", i.e. Skyhawk 7 Papa Mike). The PE controllers have been responding with "November 167PM" (sometimes shortened to November 7 Papa Mike), and have never spoken my aircraft model name "Skyhawk". On one occasion a PE controller seemed to stumble and used the make name "Cessna 167 Papa Mike". This isn't exactly what I expected (I assumed they typically would reply with "Skyhawk", not "November" or "Cessna"). I'm not sure what a RW controller would do in all situations, but communication between myself and the PE controllers has been good, now that I've learned to listen for "November".

Maybe I am using the wrong callsign in the X-Plane plug-in? As I mention above, I am connecting with "N167PM". I tried to enter "Skyhawk 167PM", but that didn't seem to work, i.e. I think the field is programmed to take 5 characters, or a valid tail number? Maybe adding another field to the flight plan screen for preferred prefix, i.e. "November", Make, or Model would be helpful? (Or not, just a thought.) My RW experience is limited, and so is my PE experience for that matter. I'm only going off my CFI's instructions and I brief conversation I had with him about his RW experience, and the few times I've been on PE the past week.
tjahns
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:42 am

Re: VFR - Callsign for initial tower contact

Postby Kevin_atc » Mon Oct 11, 2021 7:59 am

I think you’re putting way too much thought into this.

First off, the callsign field in the plugin should just be your callsign (N167PM). This is explained in the XPlane + PE setup video on the website.

Secondly, the controller can use make, model or November to abbreviate your callsign and often times they’ll mix it up and use different abbreviations. Or, controllers may change and one controller will abbreviate it differently than the last.

You’re correct in that you should never say more than 1 (ie Cessna Skyhawk… or Skyhawk November…) but aside from that, the AIM says you can abbreviate once the controller does so. After that, try using the abbreviation the controller used. The reason for that is in the event of similar sounding callsigns, of which you won’t know about unless advised by the controller. Realistically, you’re going to have to get used to abbreviating in different ways as well as keeping an ear out of any of the forms of abbreviation when ATC is calling you- that’s just all part of talking on the radios.
Kevin
PilotEdge Marketing
Want faster answers to your forum questions? Join our Discord community: www.pilotedge.net/discord
Kevin_atc
 
Posts: 1985
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2010 7:01 pm

Re: VFR - Callsign for initial tower contact

Postby zerofay32 » Mon Oct 11, 2021 8:38 am

For what it's worth, to me it seems that IRL controllers will just use November 80% of the time. Like Kevin said, controllers can and will switch it up for any number of reasons and it's not really something a pilot has to worry about.

You're also encountering something about flight training that can (and probably will) catch you off guard after getting your ticket. You're CFI will teach you based on their own flight experience and knowledge of the local area. That's all well and good until you fly somewhere or with someone else and there are minor differences. I think it's something that every student should be aware of. There can be a lot of procedural differences and until you gain experience as a pilot, you have to be prepared to be flexible with something is different then your CFI taught you. Knowledge of the FAR's and of the recommended procedures in the AIM will help by defining the limitations that you have to work within (as in the case of different callsign prefixes).
Andrew Fay
PilotEdge V-3; CAT-11; I-11; Skyhigh 7
Commercial Pilot/Instrument ASEL/AMEL- KOSU / Commercial sUAS
zerofay32
 
Posts: 128
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2014 8:34 am
Location: Grove City, Ohio

Re: VFR - Callsign for initial tower contact

Postby tjahns » Mon Oct 11, 2021 11:55 am

Thank you both for chiming in. I appreciate the guidance. Yes, I am sure I have been stressing it too much. It's welcome to know of others opinions on the matter. Interestingly, though (and this did add a tad bit of stress to my way of thinking), I purchased "Radio Mastery for VFR Pilots", (both 1st and 2nd Editions) by Jeff Kanarish.

In the 1st Edition, published in 2012, which I purchased about five years ago, the callsign prefix "Cessna" is used throughout the book. There is a bit in Chapter 4 of that edition about callsigns labeled "Skip this", but other than that, it's "Cessna". In the 2nd Edition (published very recently) however, the author switches from using the make (Cessna) to the model (Skyhawk) in callsigns all throughout the book. (I guess the author figures Skyhawk is the most popular trainer, so why not use it as the model name for the callsign.) Also, given my CFI's recommendation (remember he is operating out of an Executive airport with both jet and prop Cessna's), and further yet the exclusive use of "Skyhawk" in a book I was reading, well, it led me to believe using the model name (Skyhawk) is the most appropriate approach in most (if not all) circumstances when flying a C172.

Anyway, I'll keep using the model name when flying Cessnas on PE, but I will certainly be flexible if I work with another CFI who has other requirements. And I certainly will not stress PE controllers addressing me with November (or even "Cessna"). :)
tjahns
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Aug 24, 2019 8:42 am


Return to Pilots

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests

cron