Why Do Pilots Say ‘Roger’ In Radio Transmissions?

Particularly in the realms of film and television, you can sometimes hear pilots using the word ‘roger’ as…

Why Do Pilots Say ‘Roger’ In Radio Transmissions?

Particularly in the realms of film and television, you can sometimes hear pilots using the word ‘roger’ as part of their radio transmissions. As with all words and phrases in air traffic control, it is a word with a specific and important meaning, even if it is not obvious at face value. So why do pilots use the word ‘roger’ in communications with air traffic control?

What does it mean when a pilot says ‘roger’ to air traffic control? Photo: Getty Images

Origins in morse code

You can trace the use of the word ‘roger’ in air traffic control (ATC) back to the days before spoken transmissions even existed. According to BAA Training, early aircraft communicated with the ground instead via morse code. This was because planes in the early 20th century were not equipped with the radio technology that we are familiar with today.

In order to minimize their workload when it came to communicating with the ground, early pilots would use shorthand messages. One of these was the letter ‘R,’ which indicated that they had received a given message. This laid the foundations for what was to come in terms of streamlined radio communication.

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Today’s ATC towers are a far cry from the days of morse code. Photo: Getty Images

Use in air traffic control

When communications between aircraft and the ground switched to a radio-based format, the use of ‘R’ to mean ‘received’ carried on. However, as is common today with the NATO Phonetic Alphabet, pilots and controllers used short, easily discernible words, rather than the letters themselves, to increase clarity.

For ‘R,’ this used to be ‘Roger’ in several old phonetic alphabets, such as one proposed by IATA to ICAO in 1947. In today’s NATO alphabet, this letter is instead represented by ‘Romeo.’ Despite this, ‘roger’ has lived on as an accepted phrase as it can also be used as an acronym for “Received Order Given, Expect Results.” Overall, it is a succinct way of informing controllers that they have been understood and should await the aircraft’s response.

Volotea Getty
‘Roger’ informs controllers that the pilots have received their last transmission. Photo: Getty Images

Potential for wordplay

On a more light-hearted note, using a person’s name as radio code for something lends itself to amusing wordplay in certain situations. The writers of the 1980 parody film Airplane! recognized the potential for this, and formulated the following exchange between pilots Victor Basta, Roger Murdock, and Clarence Oveur.

Murdock: “We have clearance, Clarence.”

Oveur: “Roger, Roger. What’s our vector, Victor?”

Overall, the widespread use of standardized, simple phrases has greatly helped to streamline air traffic control worldwide. They allow pilots and controllers to be easily understood wherever they are in the world. This clarity reduces the chance of misunderstandings, and thus contributes to an overall increase in operational safety for passengers and crew.

Did you know about the origins of the use of the word ‘roger’ in radio transmissions? Perhaps you’ve been lucky enough to visit an air traffic control facility yourself? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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FAA Wants PW4000 Boeing 777 Engines Strengthened After Failure

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said that it wants to see parts of the PW4000 engine strengthened…

FAA Wants PW4000 Boeing 777 Engines Strengthened After Failure

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said that it wants to see parts of the PW4000 engine strengthened before flying again. Following an incident on a United flight in February, all Boeing 777s flying with the Pratt & Whitney engines have been grounded for inspections. The FAA’s request likely means that it will be a while before these jets return to the skies.

United, and several other carriers’, 777s with PW400s are currently on the ground due to the incident. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying


According to Reuters, Administrator Steve Dickson has told a US House panel that the FAA will require manufacturers to strengthen the cowling (engine covers) on the PW4000 engine. This will mean that Boeing and Pratt & Whitney will have to work on redesigning parts of the engine and structure to prevent incidents similar to the one in February.

Going into the specifics of the changes, Administrator Dickson told the committee said that he wants to ensure that “the structure around the engine, the cowling and the inlet area, does not damage the aircraft structure.

Pratt & Whitney PW4000
The FAA wants to see a redesign of the outer parts of the PW4000 before recertifying the jets. Photo: RAF-YYC via Wikimedia Commons

However, this request likely won’t come as a surprise to Boeing. In February, it became public that the American manufacturer possibly knew about issues with the PW4000 cowling months in advance. Boeing was already working on a redesign of the engine after similar incidents occurred on another United 777 in 2018 and JAL 777 last December.

Time to go

These design changes likely mean that many P&W 777s will be on the ground for a few more months at least. Administrator Steve Dickson did not give a timeline for a new airworthiness directive and said it depends on the completion of the design changes and FAA’s approval of the same.

United Airlines is currently the largest operator of the PW4000s. The carrier operates 52 jets that are impacted by the issues, which are parked across the US (and abroad) currently. Japanese carriers ANA and JAL also fly the P&W engined 777s, along with Korean Air and Asiana in South Korea.

JAL 777 Getty
Pratt & Whitney engines were only used to power the first generation of 777s, leaving relatively few in service. Photo: Getty Images

However, not all airlines are waiting around for time-consuming and costly design changes to their aging 777s. Japan Airlines opted to retire its entire fleet of PW4000-powered 777-200s last month, ahead of schedule due to the grounding. Routes flown by these jets will be taken up by the Airbus A350 instead.

Considering both Asiana and Korean Air (including Jin Air) have similarly sized fleets, these 777s could be up for retirement earlier than planned. ANA also currently operates 14 777-200s, making it a target for retirement, especially if the grounding drags on.

Boeing woes

For Boeing, the news is unlikely to prove helpful. The Chicago-based giant is dealing with crises in all three of its most popular aircraft families: the 737 MAX, 777, and 787. The coming months will force the manufacturer to find fixes if hopes to dig itself out of losses soon.

What do you think about the FAA’s decision to require strengthened cowlings? Let us know in the comments!

Source : Simple Flying More   

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