Thanks for your wonderful and resourceful website. I am curious as to how you guys remember and repeat all the ATC instructions within a few seconds. I listen to ATC channels sometimes, and it could be a bit tough.
"Qantas 001, information is now Echo, altimeter 1008. Turn left to 270, direct to (some waypoint), decent to FL370, expect a 3 minute left hand pattern at ___, expect BORRY2 arrival for runway 24L".
And if they are mean enough, they sometimes say all of that in one transmission plus radio frequency change.
I have heard some pilots write it down, while some pilots just know it because they fly that route quite a few times. But how often do you see pilots actually writing the stuffs down?
As a First Officer or Captain, it might be a bit embarrassing.
Thanks for your time
Just like any other profession, a pilot learns from practice and experience. If he cannot handle the air traffic communication during his training, he would not be cleared to fly as a copilot (Second or First Officer).
He is trained to expect the arrival according to his flight plan and the possible alternative for a particular runway. Information ‘Echo’ merely informs the pilot that the weather has probably changed from ‘Delta,’ the last half-hourly weather report.
He can easily remember the altimeter reading and has to be sharp to pick up the direction of turn and to descend to whatever altitude cleared.
He has to be familiar with the holding pattern. All these are part of his approach briefing and a set of well-trained crew would have anticipated the likely ATC when they establish contact with the control tower.
The experienced pilot would read back only the relevant information and the captain would back up to ensure the FO gets the read-back right..
I made it a practice to write the instructions down but some young First Officers are very good at typing the relevant information into the scratch-patch of the computer (MCDU). They have fast fingers!
It is never an embarrassing act as they are encouraged to do so!
Pilot Saved By Quick Thinking Air Traffic Controller
If you like what you read, more stories are found in my book LIFE IN THE SKIES (Preview here) and you can purchase a copy here. To check for any latest updates or postings, you can follow my Twitter at @CaptKHLim or Facebook here