The Pitfalls of Radio Telephony

The Pitfalls of Radio Telephony


In order to maintain professional voice communications on frequency, it is vital that the operator strives to comply with standard Radio Telephony (RT) procedures. When you are originally introduced to RT procedures, which is made available nowadays through multiple training platforms, it is important that you prioritise your focus on avoiding `bad frequency habits`. This unfortunately, for example, could result from being taught RT procedures by an Instructor who themselves was never corrected when they too had once started their path as a student becoming familiar with two-way radio communications.  A combination of standard Radio Telephony procedures and a good level of understanding with respect to Aviation English ensures that your application of two-way radio communications remains focused, professional and un-ambiguous.

In this section we are going to introduce you to some of the most common Pitfalls that could influence your outcome as a professional operator. They are being highlighted with the intention of giving you guidance in maintaining a two-way radio communication standard on frequency.


If someone is in the middle of speaking on frequency, don’t try to transmit and interrupt them at the same time. A `double transmission`, as it is more commonly known, results in all parties not being able to successfully transmit or receive the intended transmission content. Rather wait until such time as that person is completed their transmission on frequency before attempting to communicate further. A delay in transmission procedure ultimately assists in ensuring clearer communication for all parties concerned.


Using two-way radios is not very complex, however adequate training for your staff is needed to ensure that they fully understand the scope of two-way radio communications. This includes the application of the standard RT to be used for that platform. Take note though that even after having received the prescribed RT training, the possibility still exists that you could `freeze` on frequency, for no particular reason other than your nerves getting the better of you, when selecting the PTT to pass your message. Should you encounter this experience at any stage while attempting to transmit on frequency, the best thing you can do is de-select the PTT, gain your composure, think about what you want to say, and then…..Try again.


People often don’t realise how quietly they’re speaking on frequency. When talking over a radio you need to talk a little louder than you would in everyday conversation, especially due to factors such as the ambient noise related to the environment where you are transmitting from. The operator needs to also focus on speaking as clearly as they can to avoid having to repeat most of your transmissions for clarity purposes! By taking these factors into account, this can assist in ensuring that a seamless communication procedure exists for all users of two-way radios.


Another common pitfall that can make radio communication difficult is people talking too quickly, especially in a real time emergency scenario involving high-pressure and critical thinking. One can easily become stressed in such a situation, and talk quickly to get the information across quicker, (or that’s what you are hoping), however this only makes it more difficult for others to understand what you’re saying, and in most instances you’ll end up having to repeat your transmission. Know what you’re going to say before you transmit and say it slow and clear enough for people to understand.


Unless you have advanced encryption software, don’t assume your conversation is private. Don’t transmit sensitive, confidential or personal information over your two-way radio. No matter what frequency you are using, there is always a possibility that someone else may be tuned in to that same frequency at the time. Maintain professional communications on frequency and use the two-way radio facility for its intended purpose.


In order to demonstrate full command of a two-way radio, you need to ensure that you are not including non- standard radio telephony as part of your communication strategy. Examples of some of these non-standard terms which are more commonly used include words such as, `Come Again`, `Roger Roger`, `Five by Five, etc. Whenever you are in doubt about a particular term, rather ask for assistance from one of your senior personnel. If you continue to use non-standard RT procedures in your two-way radio communications, it can easily lead to these incorrect terms becoming part of your online phraseology.

And as a Final Tip, always remember: `Push To Talk` - Don’t `Push To Think`

- Dylan Kemlo