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8 Answers

Standard way to ask an ATC to repeat?

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Student Pilot

What's the standard way to ask an ATC to repeat what they said over the radio? And if I still don't understand, how to ask to say in different words?

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8 Answers

  1. Best Answer

    Jay on Mar 09, 2012

    “Say Again” is the standard phraseology. That will get them to repeat their last transmission. You can also say “speak slower” if they’re speaking too quickly. At the end of the day, controllers are people too. If you’re completely at a loss for what they want from you it may be necessary to ask them in plan language. Usually, if you tell them that you’re a student pilot they will accomodate you as well as they can. It’s always better that you are sure that you understand ther instructions rather than stick to the published script and do something that could get you into trouble.

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  2. Andy Hawkins on Mar 09, 2012

    I also remember reading about the standard phrase ‘words twice’ that asks them to say every word twice in the hope you’ll understand better (that’d be more useful for poor reception than you not understanding what they mean).

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  3. withanh on Mar 09, 2012

    Not that it necessarily matters in this case, but there’s a reason you don’t ask them to ‘repeat’ something.  It comes from military radio protocol.  ‘Say again’ is pretty clear in its meaning, but ‘repeat’ can have multiple meanings and comes from an artillery phrase meaning to drop ordinance on the same place you just did.
    So if you don’t want them to drop more bombs, ask them to ‘Say again’ their last transmission.

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  4. Paul Tocknell on Mar 09, 2012

    This is not a serious answer and somewhat unlreated but the next time I miss a radio call, I wonder how ATC would respond if I said, “Sorry, I was on a land line” (which is ATC’s standard response when they miss your call).


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  5. Bill Trussell on Mar 09, 2012

    There are basically two ways to ask.  First, you can repeat a clearance with “understand……(clearance issued as you heard it)”  This is standard phrasology for “this is what I heard” and ATC is obligated to repeat their instructions.
    The other way is to simply say I did not receive or understand your instructions can you repeat.  Plain english works with ATC and is often better than struggling with glossary terms that may not get your point across in a timely manner.

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  6. John D. Collins on Mar 10, 2012

    One of the best ways to understand what ATC says is to know what they are going to say before they say it. Controllers tend to be more disciplined in their phraseology than we pilots are. They have quite a large manual that provides them with much of the phraseology they use. So I would recommend you listen to tapes of ATC communication and become familiar with the phraseology provided in section 2 of chapter 4 the AIM along with the pilot controller glossary in the appendix. In my own experience, when either ATC or the pilot uses non standard phraseology, particularly when plain English is used, it often needs to be repeated as the listener is not expecting it. The radio fidelity is just not conducive to conversational speech, it really helps if your comprehension on the radio if you know what to expect.

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  7. n on Mar 12, 2012

    “say agiain”
    “please repeat” -> as for the military ordinance thing, yea…dont think ATC calls in ordinance, so your safe lol
    “can I get that one more time”
     etc, etc,

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  8. Derek Schwalenberg on Mar 12, 2012

    Say again.

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