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6 Answers

Wilco and Roger?

Asked by: 16678 views ,
General Aviation

I’ve got a question regarding phraseology. When I did my restricted radio op certificate (2000 in Germany), they told me, even if at the ICAO phraseology it is still present, that the words WILCO and ROGER are not longer in use, due to simply reason that they didn’t confirm if I understood well or missunderstood what to do. So my question is, did you confirm that?

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6 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    Josh Martin on Aug 09, 2010

    This topic came up recently when I was flying copilot with a 20,000 hour corporate pilot who was an air traffic controller for 15 years. He uses “wilco” often, even in circumstances that I thought before that it shouldn’t be used. The example he mentioned was when being cleared for an approach: “N1234A is five miles from COOLE, turn right heading 340, maintain 3,000 til established, cleared ILS 2.” This former controller said that it is acceptable to say “wilco” at that point, rather than read back the full instructions, and that controllers prefer the conciseness. Telling the controller “wilco” means you understand the instructions and “will comply.”

    As for “roger,” he said that it should be avoided because it can cause confusion. It’s more of an acknowledgment than an understanding, if that makes sense.

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  2. Matthew Waugh on Aug 10, 2010

    The Pilot/Controller glossary clearly defines what the words “wilco” and “roger” mean when used in the context of air traffic communication. If the FAA didn’t want pilots and controllers using those words they’d tell us.

    If you want to hear appalling use of radio terminology listen to any frequency populated by airline and corporate pilots (and yes, guilty as charged, many the time I’ve thought “huh, did I just say that”). As a consequence you want to add a significant amount of skepticism when told “the one, right and only true way” of doing things.

    But – before you go throwing wilco and roger around, understand the responsibility you’re taking on yourself. If you readback an ATC instruction incorrectly and ATC doesn’t catch it, and if you don’t die, the FAA will hang you. If you don’t read back the information and just wilco or roger it you take out any chance that ATC will figure out you didn’t hear what they said. That’s why a lot of people say don’t use it – me included – but if you understand what the phrases mean then by all means use them.

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  3. Ryan on Aug 12, 2010

    Roger is a widely abused and misunderstood phrase, and is inadequate when used most of the time. Roger = “I have received all of your last transmission” and should NOT be used to answer a question requiring a yes or no answer (that’s what “affirmative” and “negative” are for.) It also does not signify whether you intend to comply with an instruction, so it should not be used in response to instructions/clearances received.

    Where it may be appropriate is, for instance, after checking in with a new frequency i.e. “Chicago Approach, Cessna 123AB, 6000′”, ATC responds “Cessna 123AB Chicago Approach, altimeter 29.92 expect ILS 23L”, You may respond “Cessna 3AB, Roger” because no instruction was given and no question was asked.

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  4. Eric Gideon on Aug 12, 2010

    If you operate in Canada (or in the northwest of Washington State, with Victoria Terminal Approach Control), you’ll hear controllers respond to every one of your transmissions with “Roger”. For example:

    “Cessna 456CD, Victoria Terminal, turn right heading 340.”
    “6CD, right 340.”

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  5. andreas on Sep 18, 2010

    if the question is on purpose of phrases, as far as i recall it is as mentioned above: roger inetnds to signify “understood” and wilco is understood instructions and “will comply”.
    neither are by purpose of ICAO suitable as responses to a CLEARANCE or ATC directive, which have to be read back to confirm their correctness. in effect both words are sort of fillers, that are unneeded. and purpose here means  safe practice.
    i was taught their use (also in germany) to signify any NON compulsory confirmations, i.e. phrases that do not constitute ATC directives.
    example:information on activity of restricted areas pilot has asked for, or stating that an ATC (or other) information has been heard, where that may be useful to the other. wilco simlialry would be suitable for an instruction that is not directive or clearance e.g. of the nature “report when ready for departure” as in
    ATC: taxi to holding point rwy 27R on november and report ready for departure
    pilot: N714N taxi to holding point 27R on november and wilco (first part constituting the clearance part which has to be read back)

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  6. andreas on Sep 18, 2010

    by nature of ICAO phraseology btw, altimeter settings and runway in use HAVE to be read back literally because they constitute mandatory information. (ATC here likes to do that once pilots come up “4711 with information india” they will reply QNH 1017 and expect QNH to be read back

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