Where are you? Radials, DMEs, Bearings, Radio Calls

We have all been in that situation of having to give a radio call about our position, whether it is a request from ATC, a plane in the vicinity or just a standard position report. For some it is not the easiest thing to do in the beginning and often we push the PPT before we have thought about what we are actually going to say. So today I will go through a couple things and steps I take to avoid embarrassing moments while doing a broadcast.

Just to remind you, that these are my opinions, others may differ. There is more than one way to do this, this is just what helps me and what I find the easiest.

Lets jump straight into it.

Who
Who are you talking to?
– For this it could be an ATC call sign, or a particular frequency, or just an area. I find it is easier for others to pay attention if they know you are talking about an area that may affect them.
Who are you and what aircraft are you flying?
– By telling people what aircraft you fly it makes it easier to judge how fast you will be and then also what to look out for.

Where
From where to where?
– I normally say where I am coming from and where I am going, again helps situational awareness.
Where are you currently? Altitude, DME, Radial, Bearing, Physical Landmark
– The more specific you can be here the better, but keep it simple, no need for a speech.

What
What are your intentions? Plus ETA
– If you are going to be changing anything soon let them know. For example if you will be descending etc.

A typical call I would use where doing a position report would be:

“Traffic in the Malinau area, PK-VVP, a Pilatus, from Binuang to Malinau, currently 10200 ft, 26 nm to the South of Malinau, starting descent to circuit altitude, ETA 0325”

So to break that up and look at it step by step.

Who – “Traffic in the Malinau area, PK-VVP, a Pilatus”
Where – “from Binuang to Malinau, currently 10200 ft, 26 nm to the South of Malinau”
What – “starting descent to circuit altitude, ETA 0325″

Another tip is to have a flow in the cockpit when doing your call, particularity with the details of where your are and ETA.

Remember to keep it precise and to the point.

I will lastly just break down the “Where” lastly:

Altitude
– Try and be accurate when you give this information, in some places in the world you can be as little as 500 ft above or below opposite traffic, if you have other traffic you can always ask what QNH they are on to get an even more accurate picture.
It is also important to change from Altitudes to Flight levels at the correct altitude as well, make sure you check before you go flying.

DME
– Using a DME from a station makes for a very accurate distance. If you are using GPS distance it is good to specify that, particularly when talking to ATC.

Radial
– Using a Radial along with the DME is a great way to give your position. Just make sure you know how to read you instruments, I use FROM TOP TO BOTTOM. Basically when flying away from a beacon (FROM) the radial you are on is on the TOP of your VOR and opposite for towards the beacon.

Bearing
– This may technically not be correct, but it is used where I fly quite a lot. Bearing from the station, essentially a radial, if there was a VOR at the field. For this we just use the GPS. If you are flying towards the airfield it would be your track + or – 180 and flying away it would just be your current track.

Physical Landmark
– Pretty self explanatory, but if there is a landmark that is pretty well known you can use it to help broadcast your position. For example if there is a hill, sports field or something that is easily seen and well known you can say you are above, abeam to the West etc.

I hope this info has helped a bit. Please leave comments below if you need more explanation or have more info for others.

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