In this third of four online exercises on aviation English vocabulary, I'll show you and explain more vocabulary/phrases used by controllers and pilots when planes are actually moving along the ground on taxiways around an airport.

Click here to do the next part of this exercise on instructions when taking off from a runway.

Although the vocabulary used in this exercise is standard for instructions and communication between pilots and controllers, it may differ from what is sometimes used in some airports. But even if it does, once you the know the vocabulary here, you should have no problem understanding what a pilot or controller is saying.

Click here to see our other exercises on 'Aviation English vocabulary'.


Exercise: Moving an airplane around an airport continued

Read the following conversation between Juan (a Spanish trainee pilot) and Peter (a professional pilot). In this part, Juan has just crossed a runway and continues to move his plane on taxiways to the departure runway on a simulator. Peter is explaining to Juan the meaning of the aviation English vocabulary used to do this.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Peter:'So now that you've crossed the runway, you have to tell the controller (as he asked you to do) that you've crossed the runway by saying, we're clear of runway 14.'

Juan:'Will do.'

20 seconds after giving the controller the message

Juan:'The controller has just told me to 'turn left on T'. Do I have to stop at the holding position when taxiway T crosses the taxiway we are on?'

Peter:'No, he didn't give you a 'hold short' instruction. So when you reach the intersection with the taxiway, go left (not right) and continue on taxiway T.'

1 minute later, when taxiing on taxiway T

Juan:'The controller has responded saying 'continue on taxiway T'. Which I suppose means continue taxiing on the taxiway we are currently on.'

Peter:'It does.'

Juan:'Now, the controller has just told me to 'join T2'. I suppose that means I have to take taxiway T2 when it crosses the taxiway we are on, doesn't it?'

Peter:'Yes. When you are instructed to join a taxiway, it means you have to taxi on it when you see it. But controllers don't use 'join' at intersections where one taxiway crosses another, only when one taxiway joins another taxiway on one side.'

1 minute later, when approaching the intersection with taxiway T2

Juan:'Peter, I can't join taxiway T2, there's a plane already on the taxiway. If I join it, I'll crash in to it.'

Peter:'Stop at the holding position and contact the controller and tell them a plane is blocking the taxiway.'

Juan:'What should I say?'

Peter:'Tell him 'T2 blocked by an Air France jet'. Tell him before where you are. So say, 'United 231, short of T2 on T'. Ok?'

Juan:'Fine.'

10 seconds after giving the controller the message

Juan:'The controller has just replied and said 'hold your position'. Which I suppose means that I have to wait where I am?'

Peter:'That's right.'

2 minutes later, when the Air France plane has left taxiway T2

Juan:'Now that the Air France plane has left the taxiway, the controller has given me permission to join the taxiway. He has also told me to hold short on T2 of the taxiway it joins.'

Peter:'So read back the message to the controller (because you've got a 'hold short' instruction) and go to where he's told you.'

1 minutes later, when holding short on taxiway T2

Juan:'I've just received this message from the controller, 'give way to the Iberia jet off your left at Q'.'

Peter:'When you are instructed to 'give way'. It means you have let it pass in front of you.'

Juan:'He has also instructed me to follow the Iberia jet after it passes in front of me. Which means I have to follow it obviously.'

Peter:'Yes, but at a safe distance.'

2 minutes later, when following the Iberia plane

Juan:'Just received a message from the controller to 'monitor tower 113.4'. What does it mean?'

Peter:'Because you are getting close to the departure runway, you have to start listening on the radio to the frequency of the controller at tower control who looks after takeoffs and the runway for information and instructions. That's why the controller at ground control (who's instructing you to get there) is instructing you to monitor tower 113.4.'

Juan:'So, I stop listening to the controller at ground control?'

Peter:'No, you listen to both until you are instructed to do so.'


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Quiz: Airport pilot instruction vocabulary part 3

Below is a definition/description of each of the words in bold from the above text. Now choose the word/phrase from the question's selection box which you believe answers each question. Only use one word/phrase once. Click on the "Check answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.


1. An instruction from a controller to a pilot which tells the pilot to not move from where they are currently stopped at, is
         

Hold your position:
(phrase) This is an instruction given by a controller to a pilot to stay where they are (i.e. to not move from the location they are currently stopped at).

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hold your position:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

2. An instruction given by a controller to a pilot which means the pilot has to take the same route as the plane in front of them does, is
         

Follow:
(verb) This is an instruction given to a pilot to take the same route as the plane in front of it is going.

Normally, when a controller tells a pilot to do this they will tell the pilot what aircraft (saying either the name of the airline company the plane belongs to (e.g. Iberia jet etc...) or the type of aircraft it is (e.g. cessna etc...) they have to follow after it. For example 'British Airways 452, follow the Delta jet'.

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Follow:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

3. When a controller instructs a pilot to take a new taxiway which intersects (but on only one side) with the taxiway they are on, they will say
         

Join:
(verb) This is an instruction given by the controller to a pilot. It is basically an instruction to leave the taxiway they are currently on and take another one (which the controller will specify).

Normally, 'join' is used when a taxiway doesn't cross the taxiway the pilot's plane is traveling on, but it joins the taxiway on one of the two sides (either the left or right side).

When a controller uses 'join', they will follow it by saying which taxiway the pilot has to take (e.g. taxiway NT). They could also add on which side of the plane the taxiway will be on (e.g. 'on your right/left'). For example, 'United 413, join NT on your right'.

When a taxiway crosses another, it is more common for the controller to use 'turn' instead of 'join'. For example, 'United 413, right on F'.

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Join:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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4. An instruction from a controller to a pilot which means they have to start listening to an additional radio frequency, is
         

Monitor tower 113.4:
(phrase) When a pilot is moving their plane around an airport, they will at times be listening to more than one radio frequency for instructions/information. This is because different controllers are responsible for different parts of their journey along the ground.

When planes are leaving/arriving at the ramp/apron, they receive instructions from the ramp/apron control. When planes are moving from the ramp/apron to the runway (or vice versa), they receive instructions from ground control. When they are at the runway (for taking off or landing), they receive instructions from the tower/local control.

Often (e.g. when close to the runway they'll take off on), pilots will have to be listening for instructions or information from two different controllers at the same time. When a pilot has to do this, they will be instructed to do so by a controller. They will tell the pilot first 'monitor', followed by who they have to be listening to (e.g. ground, tower or ramp) and then the frequency of the radio channel. For example, 'United 184, monitor tower 114.5'.

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Monitor tower 113.4:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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5. When a controller gives additional route instructions to a pilot, they will start by saying
         

Continue on:
(verb) This is used by the controller to give route instructions to a pilot of a moving plane (although it can used for planes that have stopped). It can be used to both make them follow the route they were given before or to add to or modify the route they are going to take.

In either case, 'continue on' will be followed by details of the route they have to take. For example, 'Iberia 432, continue on G, turn left on K, hold short of T'.

'taxi' and 'proceed' are also used with the same meaning as 'continue'. For example, 'Iberia 432, proceed on G, turn left on K, hold short of T'.

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Continue on:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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6. A phrase used by a pilot to tell a controller that they have successfully crossed a runway, is
         

We're clear of runway:
(phrase) When a plane has to cross a runway whilst on the ground, the pilot is required to confirm to the controller when they have successfully crossed it.

They do this by using the phrase 'we're clear of runway'. This is followed by the name of the runway they have just crossed. For example, the pilot would tell the controller 'Delta 732, we're clear of runway 17R'.

Often, pilots will shorten this phrase and say 'clear of runway' instead of 'we're clear of runway'.

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We're clear of runway:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

7. An instruction given by a controller to a pilot which means the pilot has to let another plane pass or go in front of them, is
         

Give way to:
(phrasal verb) An instruction from air traffic control to a pilot that means that they have to allow another plane to go in front or pass in front of them.

When this instruction is given to a pilot, the controller will say 'give way to' followed by the type of jet (e.g. 'the United jet'), then on which side of them the aircraft is (e.g. 'off/on your left') and/or where to do it (e.g. at an intersection, 'at E'. For example, 'Delta 299, give way to the Iberia jet off your right at E'.

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Give way to:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

Close

8. When a controller instructs a pilot to take a new taxiway which crosses the taxiway they are on, they will say
         

Turn:
(verb) This is an instruction given by a controller to a pilot. It is basically an instruction to leave the taxiway they are currently on and take another one (which the controller will specify). They use 'turn' when the taxiway they have to take, crosses/intersects the one they are currently on. This is to ensure that the pilot goes in the right direction (either 'left' or 'right').

The controller will always follow 'turn' by which direction ('left' or 'right') and by which taxiway they have to turn on to (e.g. 'on B'). For example, 'United 413, turn right on F'.

Often, controllers will omit 'turn' and just say the direction (left or right) and where. For example, 'United 413, right on F'.

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Turn:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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9. When a pilot can't move on a taxiway because something is stopping them (e.g. a plane, a vehicle etc...), the taxiway is
         

Blocked:
(adjective) This means that a plane is unable to continue on their assigned route because something (often another plane) is stopping them move.

When this happen (and it can't move on a taxiway, runway, ramp etc...), either the pilot or controller (who first sees it) will inform the other. They will say what is blocked (e.g. taxiway K) and what is blocking it (if it's a plane, they'll say either the name of the airline company or the type of aircraft). For example, 'K is blocked by a Delta'.

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Blocked:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
To check your pronunciation of this word/phrase, first click on the microphone icon () below. Then allow the browser to record your voice and then say the above word/phrase. Although this test is good, it sometimes does not recognise some of the words/phrases.

       

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Click here to do the next part of this exercise on instructions when taking off from a runway.




Practice

Now that you understand the vocabulary, practise it by creating sentences in English with the new words/phrases.

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