Why make a position report on the common traffic advisory frequency?
While flying in a busy area you should always monitor and make position reports so you can coordinate with other pilots also flying in your area. There are many congested areas in San Diego where a lot of training activity occurs, and making good position reports is very important. By coordinating with other pilots and making accurate, clear position reports, you make the skies safer for you and your fellow pilots by preventing a possible mid-air collision.
Where do you find the common traffic advisory frequncy?
The frequency is posted on the area chart on the bottom in the frequency section on the inside panel. You should always participate with air to air operations unless you are using flight following. Even when communicating with ATC while flight following, it is a good idea to still monitor the common traffic frequency.
So is the above position report a good call?
This pilot is making a common mistake in his position report. Saying “abeam Lake Hodges” does not give other pilots in the area the information that they need. So when you say “abeam”, that means you are where exactly? Abeam basically means you are in line with something, so if I happen to be flying near Cessna 2454V just abeam Lake Hodges from the South, and also at 3500 feet, I need to know if that other aircraft is on the North, East, West or South side of the lake. If he is South of the lake and northbound, that aircraft is heading right towards me! In that case, I should immediately descend or climb to give us vertical separation.
I hear a lot of radio calls from other pilots reporting their position, and they are a few miles away from their actual position. Be specific in your calls. There could be several aircraft in that same area, so the more accurate your call, the easier it is to see and avoid you and keep safe separation.
So what else about that report is good or bad?
This pilot has a good order in his report and does a good job of announcing the general area of San Diego first, before continuing with his more specific location. By saying, “San Diego coastal”, everyone near the coast can tune in and continue listening. Where as if he was reporting “San Diego east”, everyone on the coast might tune out, while everyone out east has a reason to listen more closely.
“Cessna 2454V”– Well now we know to be looking for a high wing small aircraft, but some pilots choose to announce the color of their aircraft as well, which is also helpful for others looking for them. So you could say, “2454V, blue and white Cessna…”.
Above all, safety is always the first priority as a pilot. You have the ultimate responsibility and authority to ensure the safety of each flight, and making accurate position reports in the common traffic advisory area makes you and everyone else safer. As a licensed pilot and/or Flight Instructor, it is important to be courteous in the practice areas and work with other pilots that may also be using the same area for training. Flight instructors have a special obligation to pass on safe habits and a good flight attitude to your students so they will also be courteous, respectful and safe pilots.
So, how exactly should this call be said?
“San Diego coastal, 2454V, blue and white Cessna, one mile south of Lake Hodges, 3500 ft, northbound, San Diego coastal.”
Now that is a good call! (in happy radio voice because you’re FLYING!)