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Instrument Flying Handbook
The Air Traffic Control System
Communication Procedures and Facilities

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Instrument Flying


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Human Factors
Chapter 2. Aerodynamic Factors
Chapter 3. Flight Instruments
Chapter 4. Section I
Airplane Attitude Instrument
Using Analog Instrumentation
Chapter 4. Section II
Airplane Attitude Instrument
Using an Electronic Flight

Chapter 5. Section I
Airplane Basic
Flight Maneuvers
Using Analog Instrumentation
Chapter 5. Section II
Airplane Basic
Flight Maneuvers
Using an Electronic Flight

Chapter 6. Helicopter
Attitude Instrument Flying

Chapter 7. Navigation Systems
Chapter 8. The National
Airspace System

Chapter 9. The Air Traffic
Control System

Chapter 10. IFR Flight
Chapter 11. Emergency

Communication Procedures

Clarity in communication is essential for a safe instrument
flight. This requires pilots and controllers to use terms that
are understood by both. The Pilot/Controller Glossary in the
Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) is the best source of
terms and definitions. The AIM is revised twice a year and
new definitions are added, so the glossary should be reviewed
frequently. Because clearances and instructions are comprised
largely of letters and numbers, a phonetic pronunciation guide
has been developed for both. [Figure 9-5]

ATCs must follow the guidance of the Air Traffic Control
Manual when communicating with pilots. The manual
presents the controller with different situations and prescribes
precise terminology that must be used. This is advantageous
for pilots because once they have recognized a pattern
or format they can expect future controller transmissions
to follow that format. Controllers are faced with a wide
variety of communication styles based on pilot experience,
proficiency, and professionalism.

Pilots should study the examples in the AIM, listen to
other pilots communicate, and apply the lessons learned
to their own communications with ATC. Pilots should ask.
for clarification of a clearance or instruction. If necessary,
use plain English to ensure understanding, and expect the
controller to reply in the same way. A safe instrument flight
is the result of cooperation between controller and pilot.

Communication Facilities

The controller's primary responsibility is separation of
aircraft operating under IFR. This is accomplished with ATC
facilities, which include the AFSS, airport traffic control tower
(ATCT), terminal radar approach control (TRACON), and
air route traffic control center (ARTCC).

Automated Flight Service Stations (AFSS)
A pilot's first contact with ATC is usually through AFSS,
either by radio or telephone. AFSSs provide pilot briefings,
receive and process flight plans, relay ATC clearances,
originate Notices to Airmen (NOTAMs), and broadcast
aviation weather. Some facilities provide En Route Flight
Advisory Service (EFAS), take weather observations,
and advise United States Customs and Immigration of
international flights.

Telephone contact with Flight Service can be obtained
by dialing 1-800-WX-BRIEF. This number can be used
anywhere in the United States and connects to the nearest
AFSS based on the area code from which the call originates.
There are a variety of methods of making radio contact:
direct transmission, remote communication outlets (RCOs),
ground communication outlets (GCOs), and by using duplex
transmissions through navigational aids (NAVAIDs). The
best source of information on frequency usage is the Airport/
Facility Directory (A/FD) and the legend panel on sectional
charts also contains contact information.

Phonetic Pronunciation Guide.
Figure 9-5. Phonetic Pronunciation Guide.