Get specific about runways

For most of us flying at smaller general aviation airports it may seem redundant to read back the runway we are cleared to take off and land at but when flying at a larger airports like a Class Charlie airport with multiple runways it becomes very important for safety reasons.

This was impressed upon me on a recent flight landing at nearby San Jose International airport. While my initial training years ago was at an airport with parallel runways, I had developed the habit of including the “Left” or “Right” with the runway number.

After 6 years of flying at an airport with a single runway, that habit has gone the way of an affordable new airplane.

Get Specific

It’s good to be exact with our radio calls as the tower was quite correct in asking me to read back the correct runway we were to use. Even though they were operating on the Left runway only, they wanted to be sure I wasn’t going to land on the closed Right runway.

I firmly believe that the quality of our radio calls does make an impression and I strive to make it a good one. At times though sloppy radio work makes the wrong impression and we may be on a short leash with ATC as a result of that.

While we were able to conduct the low passes for our landing training, I was embarrassed for having set the wrong example for the student who is learning by my example.

Another example of sloppy radio work is when pilots at non-towered airports call “Clear of the Active”

While it’s less of a problem with a single runway, I hear it all too often at a nearby airport with crossing runways. While it’s okay to use the runway that isn’t aligned with the wind for crosswind practice, all too often I hear pilots calling “clear of the active.” Now that’s a little vague, as I don’t know what you consider the active. So lets remember the proper radio calls including to specify the runway number and “Left”, “Right” or “Center” as appropriate.

Ron Klutts CFI

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