Every ground school graduate is probably familar with the FAA’s basic set of training-related publications for a range of airman certificates and ratings. These include the Pilot’s Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge, the Airplane Flying Handbook, the Risk Management Handbook, the Instrument Flying Handbook, the Instrument Procedures Handbook, and Aviation Weather Services.
It’s natural to focus on the basics, especially while training for a given certificate or rating. However, the airspace and ATC focus of this issue provides a great opportunity to point out several additional resources that can deepen your knowledge of the national airspace system (NAS).
Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide
Published by the FAA’s AeroNav Products division, the Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide provides introduction to the agency’s aeronautical charts and publications. In addition to being a learning aid for new pilots, this document is a great quick reference guide for all aviators. The guide is organized to address VFR terms, VFR symbols, IFR terms, IFR symbols, the U.S. Terminal Procedures Publication (TPP), and TPP symbols.
Though the Aeronautical Chart User’s Guide is still available as a PDF document, the FAA now offers it in a web-based format (http://go.usa.gov/FEC9). This approach allows the user to easily reference chart symbology on a range of mobile devices as well as via desktop computers. Another advantage to the web-based format is that it enables more frequent updates to the material.
Though I do have the PDF version tucked away in my iPad aviation library, I also keep the URL for the web-based version handy because it scales nicely to whichever device I’m using. Its hyperlinks also provide for easy navigation to the specific content I need.
The FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) Pilot/Controller Glossary (P/CG) should be part of every pilot’s ready reference material. I think of the P/CG as the Webster’s dictionary of our unique aviation language. There are now more than 1,300 terms in this 80-page document, which offers a detailed definition of each. The P/CG also lists nearly 50 terms whose use in the U.S. NAS differs from the official ICAO definition. The number of abbreviations and acronyms included in the P/CG takes the total to around 2,000 words, phrases, or terms that the pilot is expected to correctly understand and use.
To sound like a professional – and I hope we all strive to exhibit that quality – please take the time to master the content of the Pilot-Controller Glossary, and avoid non-standard terminology. For instance, don’t “take the runway,” and please, please, please banish the word “active” from your aeronautical vocabulary. Transmitting your intentions with respect to “the active” without a runway number leaves your fellow fliers in the dark as to which runway is in use, and your position.
The “Point Sixty-Five”
If you really want to dig deeply into the nuances of the NAS, take a look at FAA Order JO 7110.65, Air Traffic Control. Known affectionately (or not) by such monikers as “the seventy-one-ten,” the “point sixty-five” or “the bible” of air traffic control, Order 7110.65 is an FAA manual that prescribes ATC procedures and phraseology for use by all personnel providing ATC services in the United States. The FAA publishes the current version, along with subsequent lettered versions, approximately every six months.
The official language states that controllers are required to be “familiar” with the provisions of the 7110.65 and to “exercise their best judgment if they encounter situations” it does not address. In the case of the latter, the sheer length of the document makes it hard to imagine too many situations it does not cover. With regard to the former, the expectation for controllers to be “familiar” with the 7110.65 order is amusingly understated. In fact, controllers are expected to know this document backwards, forwards, and sideways. We pilots would do well to know our airplane’s POH as well as virtually all controllers know their “point sixty-five.”
While it is not necessary for pilots to know (much less master) the content of FAA Order 7110.65, you can learn a lot – and perhaps deepen your understanding of how things work on the other side of the mic – from perusing this document. (FAA Safety Briefing – JanFeb 2015)