I can't believe that It's now four years since I set up Francoflyers and hope that it's been of some use in providing information which was only available in 'dribs and drabs' when I first joined a French flying club.
One of our most popular and useful articles is the one on French Radio Calls which I have re-posted as a permanent page on the sidebar of this blog so that it's easier to find.
The article is still at it's original location so no need to change any 'favourites' links.
I also intend to make some minor changes and will do so when the original 'recording artiste' gets back to the UK in a few weeks.
For the benefit of English-speaking pilots who haven't flown in France, I would emphasise that English is the principal language of Air Traffic Control but the French calls come in handy when dealing with 'uncontrolled' airfields—basically, you just use French to let any other aircraft in the area know what you are doing.
It's all fairly simple stuff, even for somebody like me whose command of French is generally limited to eating-related matters.
After reading a few articles on the Francoflyers blog, author Dominique Défossez was kind enough to send me a review copy of the excellent L'Anglais Pour Voler which is now in it’s 4th Edition.
Although the title suggests a publication aimed at French speakers learning aviation English, the book works equally well in the opposite direction.
But this is not just a few handy ‘tourist phrases'—it is a comprehensive work on all aspects of aviation terminology.
For example, under the ‘Aircraft Types’ section, I learned that ‘un cerf-volant’ is a kite and ‘un planeur’ is a glider—actually, I already knew about the cerf-volant having often visited the excellent restaurant in the hotel of the same name by the entrance to Limoges airport.
In addition to aircraft types, areas covered by this book include airframes, engines, systems, flight instruments, performance, maintenance and air traffic services.
There is also extensive coverage of radiotelephony phraseology.
As if more than 200 pages of that good stuff weren’t enough, there are English-French and French-English reference sections arranged alphabetically together with a section on ‘Meteo codes' organised both thematically and alphabetically.
Just to allow for anything that may have been missed, the last 2 pages provide useful terms for ‘a whatsit’ (un Machin) and 'a thingummyjig’ (un Bidule).
I was most impressed by the organisation of this book which comes in a handy spiral-bound format for easy handling.
If you're bored with 'The Simpsons', 'Rondo alla Turca' or 'the Nokia tune' on your mobile phone, you can now choose from a growing library of 10-15 second radio-call ringtones provided by www.bristol-airfield.co.uk.
Use the 'Message Alerts' link on the sidebar to locate the ringtones library.
This 'aircraft enthusiast' site is still very much under development and is in the process of being moved to a new server which will accommodate the growing number of photos, sound clips and video clips.
There is also a large library of English-language ATC radio conversations available from the 'Sound Clips Library' link though these are still in the process of being transferred from the old web space.
These will be of particular interest to our French colleagues who wish to polish-up their English-language radio skills before it becomes compulsory to do so.
Readers can sign-up for a newsletter which will advise on updates to this site.
A new web site to promote Bristol Airport, being developed by aviation enthusiast Andrew Grist, includes a selection of sound-clips which will be of interest to French pilots who wish to improve their English-language radiotelephony skills.
The recordings include:
Bristol Tower Bristol Approach Bristol Approach & Tower Bristol Airport's Flight Information Service London Control - Bristol Sector
There are also a couple of ATIS recordings with a printed translation which is just as well as they have that special sound quality only found with aircraft radio transmissions.
The site is still under development but most of the recordings are already in place and the remainder will be there shortly.
For further study of English-language Radiotelephony procedures as used in the United Kingdom, download the Civil Aviation Authority Radiotelelephony Manual (CAP 413) from www.caa.co.uk/docs/33/cap413.pdf
As with most countries, there are a few variations from the ICAO standard which are listed in the manual.
NB For easier reference, we have re-posted this very popular article as a permanent page directly accessible from the sidebar of this blog.
As a general rule, English is the language used by all French Air Traffic Control services unless you address them in French when they will respond accordingly
At ‘uncontrolled’ airfields, however, all radio traffic is conducted in French between pilots operating in the local area.
Even if you can’t hear any other traffic, it is important to announce your position and intentions for the benefit of those who may be in the vicinity.
Note that many controlled airfields revert to being uncontrolled, but still available for use, outside of normal operating hours.
Because many small airfields use the common frequency of 123.5 MHz (130.0 MHz in mountain areas) and those with their own frequency will have nobody to confirm that users have selected it correctly, it is good practice to prefix radio calls with the name of the uncontrolled airfield being addressed.
Radio conversations in the vicinity of uncontrolled airfields are naturally ‘sparse’ compared with those in controlled airspace as other aircraft won’t be particularly interested in your origin, aircraft type or approach altitude.
This is a typical sequence of calls (with English translations) for visiting the uncontrolled airfield at Marmande:
NB Knowledge of English-language radiotelephony is assumed NB1 Click on the highlighted French text for audio.
leaving the area—to the north leaving the area—to the south leaving the area—to the east leaving the area—to the west leaving the circuit—to the north leaving the circuit—to the south leaving the circuit—to the east leaving the circuit—to the west
For further study of French radiotelephony, I can recommend La Maîtrise de la Radio pour pilote privé et pilote professionnel (CD-ROM) which is available from www.amazon.fr or www.boutique.aero
We would welcome comments on all aspects of French air traffic control, including those which are outside the scope of this article.
I would like to acknowledge the contributions of those who assisted with the checking of content and French R/T phraseology:
Gorges Thety—Flying Instructor, Aéro-club de Limoges Jean Pierre Neymond—Air Traffic Controller, Limoges (Bellegarde) Airport Esteban Dwarka—Member, Aéro-club de Limoges (French translation and audio recording)