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Old 05-12-2005, 08:44 PM
Chairboy Chairboy is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Springfield, OR
Posts: 3
Default Radio Call - RV use in initial calls to controller / tower

Hi guys,

When checking in with ATC, Center, Approach, etc, how do you identify your aircraft? Do you just say 'experimental N1234T' when checking in? Or do you give some other identifier?

If the controller says 'Say type aircraft', do you say 'Vans RV-6'? Or other?

Just something I've been wondering a few days. I haven't started building yet, I'm still in the feasibility/planning stage, and I've found answers to all my other questions so far, but haven't seen this one, which I guess means it's pretty silly....

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Old 05-12-2005, 09:01 PM
Bob Axsom Bob Axsom is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 5,685
Default Experimental

"Experimental 710Bravo Juliet" is what I use on the initial contact then "Experimental 0-Bravo-Juliet" I think that is the proper way to do it. When they break into some other ID usage, I am inclined to follow their lead. When I file a flight plan I have to identify the aircraft as "RV6" and the system will take it. If the briefer tries to enter RV6A the system will not take it. Most of the time the ATC personnel I communicate with use the "Experimental..." to communicate with me.

Bob Axsom
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Old 05-13-2005, 12:01 AM
Mustang Mustang is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
Posts: 133

Up here in Canada I identify the aircraft as an RV-4 Whiskey Yankee Romeo and they do not question me about the type. I think they all know what an RV-4 is???
Cheers, Pete
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Old 05-13-2005, 05:04 AM
Highflight Highflight is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 472

Note, however, that it's in the AIM that it is only permissable to shorten your aircraft ID numbers if the controller does it first. If the controller continues to use your full call sign, then you must also.

The reason for that is that the controller may have another aircraft in his system that has a similar call sign (that you don't know about). If he has both a N204L and a N5304L in his system, there's going to be confusion if either of the two pilots of those aircraft shorten their own call signs to "04L".

Some of the best info I've seen about ATC communications is the entire series of articles by Don Brown at Avweb here at:

Starting with his very first column and working your way up to current is both entertaining and educating for any pilot.
For a short cut to specific ATC communications procedures, look on the right side of that page where the particular articles are listed. What's most fascinating is that you're getting the direct perspective of an ATC controller.
RV7-A - Slider (QB Fuse and Wings)
Mattituck IO-360 (AFP) w/2 P-mags
Catto 3-Blade
SJ Cowl and Plenum
Panel: Dual GRT EFIS / EIS4000 / PMA8000B / SL-30 / SL-40 / Internal GRT GPS / GTX 327
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Old 05-13-2005, 05:20 AM
RV10Man RV10Man is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Posts: 1,105
Default Identify

On our recent trip to S-N-F, from OKC, we were with Ft. Worth center for flight following. When handed off to Memphis center, we contacted them with "Memphis center, RV159MA" center replied several times, "say again". We finally replied with "experimental, 159MA". Controller was extremely nice & cordial and came back with "FYI, when calling in, it might be best to call in with experimental, 159MA." He told us initially, it sounded like we were saying Army, 159MA.

Marshall Alexander
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Old 05-13-2005, 05:44 AM
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Jamie Jamie is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 2,295

Also, remember that per the FARs, experimental aircraft should identify themselves as such on initial contact to ATC, so (technically), simply identifying yourself has 'RV' would not suffice....although one could argue that since ALL RVs are experimental this wouldn't matter.
"What kind of man would live where there is no daring? I don't believe in taking foolish chances but nothing can be accomplished without taking any chance at all." - Charles A. Lindbergh
Jamie | RV-7A First Flight: 7/27/2007 (Sold)
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Old 05-13-2005, 06:57 AM
ge9a ge9a is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 167

Most (not all) of the RV pilots I have heard on the radio identify themselves as "Experimental XXX". Isn't the whole reason for identifying your aircraft for ATC is so they have an idea of your speed, or at least your speed capability, for sequencing purposes? If I identify as a Skyhawk or Skylane, they know how fast I'm capable of flying, and how long it should take me to get somewhere. I would think that identifying yourself as "Experimental" could mean anything from a maximum speed of 80 kts to 200+ kts, depending on the 'brand' of experimental plane you are flying. So I would think using "Experimental" as your ID wouldn't mean enough to a controller for them to do their job. Unless of course you identify yourself as "RV" after "Experimental", or if asked again by the controller. Just my 2 cents' worth.
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Old 05-13-2005, 08:38 AM
Highflight Highflight is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Houston, TX
Posts: 472

As soon as you identify yourself to ATC and they have you on radar, they know how fast you're going so that may not be that big an issue.

I only wish that some word could be officially designated by the FAA to be used in place of "Experimental" in the call sign. Not to pick nits, but that's five whole syllables that would be nice to have shortened to something more abbreviated.

I don't care what the word is. The FAA can make up a whole new word not even in the dictionary (if they want) and declare it to be a replacement for Experimental in communications.
As long as it's just one or two syllables, that would be nice. And as long as it's easy to understand, even it it sounds silly. Offered as an example and what comes immediately to my fertile mind might be something like "Chunk", as in "Chunk 72 Victor Lima".
It's sounds kind of silly at first, but it's easy to understand and almost impossible to MISunderstand, and it's only one syllable. If the FAA were to publish that single syllable word as being a direct replacement for the word Experimental (for radio communications only), comm use would end up being exactly 4 syllables easier.

My 1/5 cents worth.
RV7-A - Slider (QB Fuse and Wings)
Mattituck IO-360 (AFP) w/2 P-mags
Catto 3-Blade
SJ Cowl and Plenum
Panel: Dual GRT EFIS / EIS4000 / PMA8000B / SL-30 / SL-40 / Internal GRT GPS / GTX 327
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Old 05-13-2005, 08:45 AM
jclark jclark is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Columbia, SC
Posts: 804

First call:
"... Experimental 996PJ ..."

If they ask type, I say

"RV6, Romeo Victor 6" (helps eliminate them hearing "Army 6")

For some, if RV does not register, I might say
"Hotel X-Ray Bravo" to give info about speed class.

See table referenced in URL below. or


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Old 05-13-2005, 08:58 AM
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jonbakerok jonbakerok is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Houston
Posts: 361
Default Consider the context

For position reports or talking to the tower at the local GA airport, I usually say "RV 883TT", because its more descriptive in that context and there's enough RV's flying around that people usually know what you're saying in that context.

If I need to talk to ATC for flight following, I say "Expermental 883TT" because "RV sounds like "ARMY" to those guys. Problem is, then they have to ask your speed and they usually act like they don't believe you when you tell them you're making 170 knots.

With so many RV's flying around these days, I wish we had a standard. "Vans" would probably be better than "RV".
Jon Baker
RV6A sold, RV4 in-progress
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