Airports GIS

Communicating with Air Traffic Control

Many terms and procedures used in the day-to-day operations of an airport are different and unusual to people outside the aviation industry. This is a brief introduction to airport operations and terms with links to relevant information.

Though it may seem like some foreign dialect being spoken between the Tower and vehicles and/or aircraft, specific phraseology provides clear, concise, and understandable communications. It is important to become familiar with the aviation “lingo” to operate effectively on and around an airport.

First general rule

DO NOT USE 10 codes such as “10-4” when communicating with ATC.

Second general rule

READ BACK ALL ATC INSTRUCTIONS before moving from your current position.

Third general rule

NEVER USE “CLEARED” in communicating with ATC. Use “Proceed” or “Proceeding.”

Final General rule

If you don’t know the proper phraseology, USE PLAIN ENGLISH.

The following is a sample of what you may hear while operating at the airport:

Instruction From ATC

“Survey Three, proceed via taxiway Charlie hold short of Runway Two Seven.”
“Survey Three, proceed via Charlie hold short of Runway Two Seven.”


The tower has instructed a vehicle with the call sign SURVEY THREE to move from its present position via Taxiway Charlie and to stop and remain stopped and not to cross runway Two Seven when they get to it.

Survey Three’s Response

“Survey Three proceeding via Charlie (or taxiway Charlie) and hold short of runway Two Seven.”