Why do pilots say ‘Roger’?

Discussion in 'Stories' started by v2, Nov 25, 2016.

  1. v2

    v2 Well-Known Member

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  2. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    When you use a system of communication that isnt clear you find ways to eliminate common errors. I had to shout numbers to a colleague, it didnt take long before 15 became "fifteen" while 50 became "five zero". Movies portray radio communication as crystal clear it is still anything but. The use of "roger" wilco" and "over" are ways to eliminate errors and misunderstandings.
     
  3. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Another word used along the lines of "Roger" is the word "Copy" or "Copy That".
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Yep, and numbers, in particular, need to be enunciated clearly and precisely, to prevent what could be costly, and dangerous confusion.
    For example, the number four is pronounced "Fower", five is pronounced "Fife", and nine as "Niner", whilst the figure O is always pronounced as "Zero", never "Oh" or "Nought".
    A 'point', as in a number combination, such as 125.9, is pronounced as "Decimal", for example, "Change to frequency One Two Fife Decimal Niner" .
    Some phrases, particularly in military use, are not used unless that phrase is for a specific instruction. The phrase "Say again" has become common in everyday, civilian use, and comes from the R/T request to to repeat what has been said previously, for example "Say again all after ...", and is used to specifically avoid the use of the word 'Repeat'.
    This is because the word 'Repeat' is an order to repeat the same Fire Order, for artlillery, mortars and other 'heavy' weapons, and should only be used in that context. Use in other ways could result in friendly forces being hit by their own fire support, commonly called 'Friendly fire', which is far from friendly when it lands !!
    Even with modern technology, radio communication is still affected by atmospheric conditions, location and terrain, and therefore radio traffic has to be organised in a precise and understandable manner, hence the use of such words and phrases as mentioned in these posts.
    Out.
     
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  5. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Not sure about current military TX, but in civil (emergency services), a pause in transmission is signified by the word "Break" and the request to repeat a transmission can be done with the phrase "Come Again?"
     
  6. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    #6 Airframes, Nov 25, 2016
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2016
    Yes, there are a lot of differences in the various 'services', right across the World, with no proper standardisation, as there is in aviation comms. Listening to British Police transmissions makes me cringe, as the discipline is almost non-existent, and the terminology wide open to misinterpretation.
    The 'standard' procedure in aviation use for signifying a pause in a message or transmission, adopted from military use, is to use the word 'Wait'.
    This can be done in one of three ways - "Wait", where only a few seconds pause is required, perhaps just to check something on a screen or note pad; "Wait one", where the pause required may be slightly longer, but the transmission can continue, the sender having released the presel or PTT switch, and finally "Wait out", where the pause required will be longer, and the sender has signified the end of that phase of the transmission by the use of the word 'out', ending his transmission by releasing the presel or PTT switch.
    When the necessary response is finally transmitted, the sender will normally commence, after the I.D. phase, with "Reference your last (transmission) ...", followed by the part of the message which necessitated the original pause in transmission.
    EDIT:- I forgot to add, the use of the word 'Break' normally indicates a break in transmission, in most cases in an emergency or for an important reason, where the sender will transmit "Break, break", in order to temporarily end the current transmission, in order to talk to another station.
     
  7. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    In the Police (or Fire) exchanges (mobile unit to dispatch or visa-versa) "break" became common in the older days of the high-power mobiles, because there was a time-out in the mobile transiever to prevent burn-out or over-draw on the vehicle's charging system. The older two-way mobiles drew a great deal of amperage (50 to 80 amps) in order to drive the typical 125 - 150 watt systems - some, like the old GE transceivers even had a "spin-up" motor that would engage when the mic was keyed, generating additional power to the transmit portion of the transceiver.

    So the continuous transmission time (which varied between 90 seconds to 120 seconds) would only allow the Officer a certain amount of time to relay information to dispatch before the tranceiver interrupted the TX. This time-out also prevented an accidental open mic from blocking the frequency for an excess amount of time.

    Even now, with the lower amp-draw digital two-ways, they have a programmable time-out that's more of an option to prevent an open-mic than preventing over-current on the vehicle's system.

    This "break" also allows other units to contact dispatch if nessecary and dispatch can pause the current traffic to take the secondary traffic as priority if the situation dictates.

    All the agencies nationwide have a uniform radio protocol to enhance interoperability between all services.

    The one thing that's interesting, is that the phonetic code used, is name-based instead of the typical international/military phonetics.

    A - Adam
    B - Boy
    C - Charles
    D - David
    E - Edward
    F - Frank
    G - George
    H - Henry
    I - Ida
    J - John
    K - King
    L - Lincoln
    M - Mary
    N - Nora
    O - Ocean
    P - Paul
    Q - Queen
    R - Robert
    S - Sam
    T - Tom
    U - Union
    V - Victor
    W - William
    X - X-Ray
    Y - Young
    Z - Zebra
     
  8. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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  9. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Because "Jerry" was taken?
     
  10. Old Wizard

    Old Wizard Well-Known Member

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  11. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Because it they said 'Dave' it'd sound odd...
     
  12. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    A slightly amusing story on communication. Passwords for the army are often a number say 20. The guard would shout 15 and the correct reply would be 5. My cousin was a new officer with the Gurkhas and he set the number for the night as 18. He approached the camp to check the guards, the guard shouted 12 he replied with 6 and the guard attacked him. When they sorted it out he was told that was the reason why in the Gurkhas, the number of the day was kept to single figures.
    Unquestionably brave and loyal they are, but not good at maths.
     
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  13. Bucksnort101

    Bucksnort101 Well-Known Member

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    Because they don't like being called Shirley. No, I'm not serious.
     
  14. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Strictly speaking, pilots should never say "Roger. Wilco." "Roger" means "message received and understood" while "Wilco" means "message received and understood, and am complying with instructions." To put both phrases together counters the objective of voice transmissions that they should only be long enough to convey the meaning clearly.

    Sorry for being a pedant...I just can't help myself sometimes.
     
  15. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I agree. It's a small point, but niggles me intensely, just as "Over and out" annoys me.
    The word 'over' initiates the passing of the 'airwaves' to the other station, so that they may respond, whilst 'Out' signals the immediate end of transmission by the 'issuing' station.
    To say "Over and out" is the equivalent of saying something along the lines of "Over to you, and you can say whatever you want, but it won't make any difference as I'm not listening any longer, and have gone away "!
    As Buff mentioned, voice transmissions are supposed to be only long enough to convey the message - in a clear, concise and precise manner. Using superfluous words or phrases, including pleasantaries, such as 'Please', only extends the transmission, and could lead to confusion, or worse.
    I remember my Signals Instructor quoting the example below, allegedly from the First World War, to illustrate how messages can become garbled and misunderstood.
    A Colonel in the trenches sends back a message to HQ, by word of mouth passed 'up the line', which reads "Send reinforcements, we're going to advance".
    By the time the General at HQ gets the message, it now reads "Send three and fourpence, we're going to a dance "!
    ('Three and fourpence' being three Shillings and four Pence, the currency of the time).
     
  16. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

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    Its not just radio comms.
    The reason that 'contact' is called for switching on the ignition when hand-starting an aircraft engine, is because 'switches on' sounds a lot like 'switches off'.

    'Over' seems to have dropped from common use - I don't think I've ever heard it while flying, and I've very rarely heard roger or wilco used.
    Usually, if a transmission requires acknowledgement, then it is done with the aircraft registration, and if especially busy, I've even just keyed the PTT twice in rapid succession.
     
  17. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Yes, that seems to be the norm in aviation R/T use, which I've done myself.
     
  18. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  19. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    #19 mikewint, Dec 9, 2016
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2016
    As many have stated above radio communication can be very difficult at times to understand (M and N sound much alike) thus Phonetic Alphabets were introduced. Rather than saying RECEIVED after every message just the R or the phonetic equivalent was used.
    Phonetic alphabets use names that begin with the letter in question. The alphabet in which Roger stands for R begins "Able Baker Charlie Dog...," and was the official radio alphabet of the U.S. Navy before 1954. Another familiar alphabet, the NATO phonetic alphabet, which is used by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the Federal Aviation Administration, begins "Alpha Bravo Charlie Delta"; this alphabet uses Romeo for R.
    In Vietnam the Viet Cong quickly became Victor Charlie and eventually just Charlie
    Wilco is simply an abbreviation of WILl COmply and is not phonetic.
    Thus: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
     
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