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Old 05-11-2017, 1:06 PM
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Default ATC/pilot slang

Is there a list of often used pilot/air traffic slang? Most of the lists I've found are military oriented.
I've been listening to Detroit approach and hear
1. flight name number with "heavy" added to end eg Delta355 heavy.
2. "descending across Spica(?)" "at Spica(?)"
3. "we have" (followed by phonetic alphabet letter) eg "we have tango" "we have uniform"
Anybody know what these mean?
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Old 05-11-2017, 1:16 PM
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1. Any aircraft capable of over 300,000 pounds takeoff weight is "heavy".
2. Probably an airspace fix or reporting point. Go to AirNav click on Airspace Fixes and search for it.
3. That means they have the current information from the ATIS recording with that letter.

Go to https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publications and refer to the Pilot/Controller Glossary and Aeronautical Information Manual.
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Old 05-11-2017, 1:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrotherStare View Post
1. flight name number with "heavy" added to end eg Delta355 heavy.
2. "descending across Spica(?)" "at Spica(?)"
3. "we have" (followed by phonetic alphabet letter) eg "we have tango" "we have uniform"
Anybody know what these mean?
Welcome to the world of air traffic monitoring!

1 - HEAVY aircraft are usually any aircraft which has a maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) rating of 300,000 lbs or more. They create more wake turbulence for aircraft behind.

2 - SPICA is likely a checkpoint or an intersection. You can search those on AIRNAV.com. AirNav: Information on fix SPICA

3 - That usually refers to the ATIS information (Automatic Terminal Information Service). When it gets updated, it gets assigned a new alphabetical character to the controllers know the aircraft has the most current information.

Good luck and happy monitoring!

- Chris
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Old 05-11-2017, 1:55 PM
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Smile

Thanks for all the help guys. Got lots of reading to do. Radio has so many rabbit holes
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Old 05-11-2017, 2:55 PM
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SPICA is a fix, part of SPICA TWO STAR (Standard Terminal Arrival Route) for DTW. Check the current approach plate for this STAR for exact location of SPICA.
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Old 05-12-2017, 3:19 AM
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HEHE. If you are an avid flight sim pilot and know your stuff none of this is strange. You can look here for aeronautical charts. http://skyvector.com/

Flightaware.com has plates. Type in an airport and you can get the SIDs and STARs.

In most commercial A/C you have a CDU/FMS/FMC. Looks like an ATM. You program waypoint/fixes into this and the aircraft will fly to those waypoints. So SPICA is a waypoint they crossed. ATC will also tell you to cross a fix, etc.

If you look at my location, following it means you meet a surface to air missile.
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Old 05-15-2017, 2:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrotherStare View Post
2. "descending across Spica(?)" "at Spica(?)"
Good answers for your other two questions, but some clarification on this one. What you are hearing is an altitude "crossing restriction", SPICA is just the fix representing a point in space that ATC uses to reference the crossing restriction and it happens to be on the SPICA 2 arrival. on that STAR the exchange sounds like this:

ATC: "Delta 212, cross SPICA at one two thousand feet"

Pilot: "cross SPICA at 12 thousand, Delta 212."

There are MANY different ways a crossing restriction can be issued, however, and they often are not at any waypoint or fix. in that case ATC will still reference a waypoint on the flight plan with a distance associated. they often also include a speed restriction that must be complied with upon crossing that point in space:

ie. "Cross 35 miles west of DAIFE at one-zero thousand, 250 knots.

Just to make things even more of a pain in the A$$, lazy air traffic controllers have now come up with "Optimized Performance Dececnt" STAR. an OPD STAR will contain multiple, often MANY, altitude and speed restrictions as part of the procedure, however instead of ATC having to manage the aircraft and individually clear each stepdown, they now issue a clearance to "Descend Via" which then shifts the burden to the crew to ensure making ALL restrictions in the procedure as depicted on the STAR plate (this skyrockets the cockpit workload exponentially and often leads to task saturation but that's a different conversation) ....AND they can also add caveats to the procedure during such a clearance:

ie. " United 1105, Descend Via the Freedom 3 Arrival, except maintain two one zero knots"

P.S. Detroit Metro does not currently have any OPD STARs so you likely wont hear that listening to them.

Anyway, hope that gives you a better handle on what you might hear.
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Old 05-16-2017, 9:56 AM
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Keep in mind that there is also another category higher than "Heavy" that being "Super". I hear it all the time as A-380's pass over Nova Scotia on their way between the eastern seaboard and Europe. I am not sure what the weight boundary is between heavy and super, but I am pretty sure only the A380 and some fo the Russian Antonov's fit into the category.
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Old 05-16-2017, 5:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by novascotian View Post
Keep in mind that there is also another category higher than "Heavy" that being "Super". I hear it all the time as A-380's pass over Nova Scotia on their way between the eastern seaboard and Europe. I am not sure what the weight boundary is between heavy and super, but I am pretty sure only the A380 and some fo the Russian Antonov's fit into the category.
Correct. According to the FAA Pilot/Controller Glossary, there is no weight consideration for the "Super" designation and currently only the A380 and An-225 are classified as such. I think EuroControl might also classify the An-124 as Super as well, but at the moment I can't seem to find any official documentation.


https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publ.../media/pcg.pdf
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