Pronunciation of numbers used flight operations is very important. To avoid confusion, the ICAO phonetic numbers are used. Numbers are particularly important for flight levels, headings, speeds, fuel quantities and weather information.
NOTE: Sometimes Flight Levels are used to express altitudes, e.g. 33,000 is Flight Level 330. Due to international differences some countries use different Flight Level Notation. For example in the US Flight Levels start at 18,000 feet.
Read and memorise all of the ICAO phonetic numbers. To increase intelligibility it is good to say them slowly and clearly.
0 Zero Ze ro
1 One Wun
2 Two Too
3 Three Tree
4 Four Fow er
5 Five Fife
6 Six Six
7 Seven Sev en
8 Eight Ate
9 Nine Nin er
10 Ten Ten
Thousand Tau sand
- Spell your phone number using the ICAO phonetic alphabet.
- Look at the flight levels below. How would you pronounce them?
- Try the exercise again, but this time pretend to be a controller and say "climb and maintain" before each altitude.
When you are confident using the ICAO number system, start the next lesson, which is about listening to ATIS.
ATIS stands for Automatic Terminal Information System. A pilot must obtain ATIS information before an aircraft can start to taxi for take off, or land.
Usually the ATIS is prerecorded and loops until it is updated at the start of the next hour. Pilots usually listen to an available ATIS broadcast before contacting the local control unit in order to reduce the controllers workload and relieve frequency congestion.
The recording is updated in fixed intervals or when there is a significant change in the information, e.g. a change in the active runway. It is given a letter designation. The letter progresses down the alphabet with every update and starts at alpha after a break in service of 12 hours or more. When contacting the local control unit, a pilot will indicate he/she has "information <letter>", where <letter> is the ATIS identification letter of the ATIS transmission the pilot received. This allows ATC controller to verify whether the pilot has all the current information.
The information in an ATIS is in the following sequence.
- Airport name and ATIS identifier
- Weather information
- Approach and landing information
- Severe weather information
- Instructions and advice
- Read the following ATIS aloud.
Vancouver International information Foxtrot one three five five Zulu weather. Wind three zero zero at eight, visibility five. Five hundred few, one thousand two hundred scattered, ceiling three thousand overcast, temperature one five, dew-point eight. Altimeter two niner eight seven. IFR approach is ILS or visual, runway two six left and runway two six right. Simultaneous parallel ILS approaches in use. Departures, runway two six left. GPS approaches available. VFR aircraft say direction of flight. All aircraft read back all hold short instructions. Advise controller on initial contact that you have Foxtrot.
- In which categories do the individual pieces of information in the above ATIS belong?
- Listen to the ATIS by clicking the link below. Write down the information that you hear.
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