Bits and Pieces
Word of the Month - Roger
By Ian Brown, Editor - Bits and Pieces, EAA 657159
Roger is a word with a proud aviation tradition. It's even the name of Chris Hadfield's dad. How about that for a pedigree? Roger was also the phonetic for "R" before the NATO phonetic alphabet was created. Remember, however, that saying "roger" when talking with ATC just means "I have received all of the last transmission" which is, at best optimistic, and at worst completely inaccurate. How can you be sure that you did receive "all of the transmission?" If ATC gives an instruction, you should repeat all of it and finish with your call sign. That way, the record will show that you completely understood the instruction and gave the controller the opportunity to correct you if you didn't. You may occasionally hear a controller saying "Roger" as part of a transmission, but it's likely to be used in place of "yes" as in, "Roger, turn left base for runway 23."
If you find yourself saying "Roger," ask yourself if there is a safer way to close the communication loop next time. Don't be shy about asking for clarification, or asking the controller to repeat the instruction if you didn't get it all at first. They'd rather have that conversation than the problem to deal with. Air Traffic Controllers are there to help all levels of pilots, and helping out when someone needs more than the professional grade of relatively curt communication makes a change.
In talking to my favourite controller, I was told that they almost never hear "roger" anymore, and certainly not with professional pilots.