How can you remember all those instruction from air traffic controllers so easily?

Listening to conversations between pilots and air traffic controllers is illegal in some countries, but possible in others. The website is a good source to tune in to some popular frequencies such as New York JFK tower, Miami approach or Amsterdam Ground.

When you listen to pilots and controllers talking to each other, you will often hear multiple instructions being thrown from the controllers at the pilots with them replying immediately in the correct way. Many people wonder how that works?

On the one hand we are being selected to have the ability to remember numbers and instructions well. On the other hand it is also practice and the knowledge of what to expect. Depending on the flight phase we already know what is coming next or what could happen in the future. When we get an instruction the pilot flying starts dialing in all the numbers in the systems, while the pilot monitoring will read back the instructions and compare it with the selected values at the same time. So there is a lot of things going on simultaneously in a very short span of time that requires good teamwork.

When we taxi on the ground, we use a little trick sometimes to remember the very complex taxi instructions, by punching in the respective taxiway designators in the FMC. A taxi clearance like “Taxi holding point runway 19, via Tango One, Lima, Bypass 5 and Romeo, hold short of Romeo 2” could be remembered by noting down 19, T1, L, BY5, R – R2 or something like that.

Posted in: Flying/MD-11/Lufthansa