Learning/Improving Comms

I’ve reached the point in my training where I should be starting to make most calls with ATC. This has really been a struggle for me so far. Even writing down the ATIS shakes me up sometimes, I’m average at doing inputs for clearance-ground-tower, but listening and being able to read back instructions is brutal to say the least, I can’t stress how much my CFI has to jump in and fix this because I either just didn’t hear it all the first time, or I slip up when I do try reading back. I did download a $35 VFR Comm App that helps better explain how Comms work in aviation, but I was a little disappointed to find out it doesn’t have any interactive feature to it as I hoped. Any advice on how to practice this better?


Many people find comm work to be very challenging (just wait till you fly out of the US and add an accent!). I even know a few airline pilots who still are still pretty rough. I honestly believe it’s just one of those things that come with time and exposure. When I first started flying to Japan I had the worst time with the accent but after a few months I developed an “ear” for it. There are tons of YouTube videos and live ATC broadcasts online. You could always practice listening, recording and reading back with some.



You could purchase a hand held radio and go listen to the tower near you. Pretend that you are the one receiving the clearances and read them back out loud to yourself. I would stay away from listening to the big airports on liveATC.net as that can be overwhelming.


I downloaded LiveATC and have been listening to frequencies at DAB where I will be training. It helps me develop an ear for the comms at that location and the flow of traffic from the ATP ramp (taxiways assigned, altitudes cleared to, etc). Try that app, but as Chris said, big airports (anything Class B or even busier Class C) will overwhelm you.


Not necessarily. I’m out here in HNL which is a Bravo and I’ve been to busier Ds on the mainland. All depends but really once you develop an ear. and more important are actually taxiing AND seeing the layout it makes much more sense.


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Hayward is a good example. It’s a Delta, under a Charlie, under a Bravo. Crazy busy. ATP used to have a location there that got moved to Livermore, for good reason.