« Why did I choose France? | Main | Limoges Airport—Temporary Closure »

22 March 2008


Excellent idea,this "french radio call" is a perfect basic package for english spoken pilots to operate safely on uncontrolled airfield
Bravo SUE

Hi Pierre

many thanks for your message.I am delighted that you have seen my new site.
My next project is to write a similar file, this time the audio will be in English for the French pilots who wish to fly to England or Europe, I hope that this will make it easier for them to speak with the English speaking controllers.

Very impressive - well done. It will help me learn the French radio patter and also the pronunciation...

Hi Roger

Thank you for your posting I am delighted to be of assistance to you.
Good luck with your French Radio calls in the future!Perhaps you can report back to us after putting it into practice in France.

Hi Sue
This is great, just what I have been looking for.
I did visit you 2 years ago when you were away.
Went flying with Philippe at the aero club (twice)
We especially remember the mushroom pickers and your husbands socks catching fire in the lounge!!!
Hope to see you in 2008
George and Mary.

Hi George

i am delighted that you are enjoying the site.We usually add something new each day so keep watching this space.

It would be superb if you can make the time to visit me in 2008.Please give me plenty of notice as i get very booked up in the summer months.

This basic French RT stuff is great. Well done.

Our microlight club, N Yorkshire Fling Club, is planning a French Trip in May / June and this will be a tremendous help. Hoping that some of us can make it to Limoges.

A couple of Questions:

1. How do you ask for "Airfield Information"? .. and anyway would you expect a reply at an uncontrolled airfield.

2. In the above files, you refer to "estime cinq minutes". In English RT this would mean that you expected to be at the designated point at 05 mins past the hour and NOT in 5 minutes time. What is the French meaning .. I suspect the "in 5 mins"

3. Are distances referred to in KM, SM or NM?
.. and is height in feet or metres (M on maps)?



Hi David

Glad you enjoyed the article on French R/T which has generally gone down well.

In fact, R/T is a language of it's own with many variations of use, even in the UK.

In answer to your specific questions:

1/ At uncontrolled airfields, the only source of information, apart from the signals square, is the other pilots who will generally provide the required information.

As a French speaker of limited ability, I tend to keep the language as simple as possible with questions such as "quelle piste en service" (which runway in use) or "demande QFE" (request QFE).

If you get no reply, the idea is to announce your position/intentions at each stage which is a lot easier than having an actual conversation.

2/ We checked out our script with one of the Limoges Air Traffic Controllers and are fairly happy that "estime cinq minutes" means that you will arrive in 5 minutes.

In the UK, I would say "ETA zero-five" to mean 5 minutes past the hour but I find this a bit confusing so usually cop-out and give the complete time.

3/ Units of measurement did cause a lot of confusion several years back when lower airspace was shown in Metres and Flight Levels were shown in feet—even more confusing on the Southern UK maps where the units changed mid-channel.

I use the popular French half-million charts where all vertical measurements are now shown in feet or flight levels (also feet).

Horizontal distances may be measured directly in Nautical Miles with your 'Nav Rule', as with UK maps to the same scale.

Note that these charts only show airspace up to 5000' AMSL (above sea level) or 2000' ASFC (above surface) where this is higher.

On French airfield charts, runway dimensions are shown in Metres and distances from nav-aids, etc, are shown in Nautical Miles, just like the UK in both cases.


Les King
Site Administrator

Dear Sue,

Excellent. There was a handy sheet printed in Pilot a few years ago but nothing as user friendly as your site. Please pass on my thanks to Les King.

Good luck with the pups.

Kind regards,

Roger Bell


Thanks for reply.

I think the reason for not giving the Hours in UK situation is that the Local Vs Zulu time confusion is removed.

Anyway French etime meaning is very helpful.



How do you ask for Zone Transit in French? My thought is that full ATC service would be in English but what about military airfields (say Creil which is directly en route from Abbeville to Fontenay-Tresigny and looks as if you can go acroos at >2500 feet without asking) .. do military operate in English?.


I have always spoken to the military in English.

They have been extremely courteous and helpful at all times.

Do remember that most military areas are unrestricted at weekends and bank holidays.

If you have any problems about ANYTHING, speak to your nearest FIS in English and ask them to ask for zone transit for you or for confirmation that the area is active or not.

The French ATC (in English) is exactly the same as the British ATC apart from the French accent!

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner

Become a Fan