Aviation Phonetic Alphabet

Learn your aviation alphabet

Aviation Phonetic Alphabet

Phonetic Alphabet Overview

The NATO phonetic alphabet, more formally the international radiotelephony spelling alphabet, is the most widely used spelling alphabet. Though often called "phonetic alphabets", spelling alphabets have no connection to phonetic transcription systems like the International Phonetic Alphabet. The following is essential aviation terminology.

Learning The International Phonetic Alphabet
Letter Spelt Pronounced
A ALFA or ALPHA AL-FAH
B BRAVO BRAH-VOH
C CHARLIE CHAR-LEE or SHAR-LEE
D DELTA DELL-TAH
E ECHO ECK-OH
F FOXTROT FOKS-TROT
G GOLF GOLF
H HOTEL HOH-TELL
I INDIA IN-DEE-AH
J JULIETT or JULIET JEW-LEE-ETT
K KILO KEY-LOH
L LIMA LEE-MAH
M MIKE MIKE
N NOVEMBER NO-VEM-BER
O OSCAR OSS-CAH
P PAPA PAH-PAH
Q QUEBEC KEH-BECK
R ROMEO ROW-ME-OH
S SIERRA SEE-AIR-AH
T TANGO TANG-GO
U UNIFORM YOU-NEE-FORM or OO-NEE-FORM
V VICTOR VIK-TAH
W WHISKEY WISS-KEY
X Xray ECKS RAY
Y YANKEE YANG-KEY
Z ZULU ZOO-LOO

Instead, the NATO alphabet assigns code words to the letters of the English alphabet acrophonically so that critical combinations of letters (and numbers) can be pronounced and understood by those who transmit and receive voice messages by radio or telephone regardless of their native language, especially when the safety of navigation or persons is essential. The paramount reason is to ensure intelligibility of voice signals over radio links.

Phonetic alphabet explained


Phonetic Alphabet Language

Most of the words are recognizable by native English speakers because English must be used upon request for communication between an aircraft and a control tower whenever two nations are involved, regardless of their native languages. English is not required domestically, thus if both parties to a radio conversation are from the same country, then another phonetic alphabet of that nation’s choice may be used.

In most versions of the alphabet, the non-English spellings Alfa and Juliett are found. Alfa is spelled with an f as it is in most European languages. The English and French spelling alpha would not be properly pronounced by speakers of other languages—native speakers of those languages would not know that ph should be pronounced as f. Juliett is spelled with a tt for the benefit of native French speakers because they will treat a single t as silent. In English versions of the alphabet, like that from ANSI, one or both may revert to their standard English spelling.

Digits/Numbers
Digit Spelt Pronounced
0 ZERO ZE-RO
1 ONE WUN
2 TWO TOO
3 THREE TREE
4 FOUR FOW-ER
5 FIVE FIFE
6 SIX SIX
7 SEVEN SEV-EN
8 EIGHT AIT
9 NINE NIN-ER

Phonetic Alphabet Usage

The alphabet is used to spell out parts of a message containing letters and numbers to avoid confusion, because many letters sound similar, for instance “n” and “m” or, "f","s" and "x" as well as “b”,”d” and "e". For instance the message “proceed to map grid DH98” could be transmitted as “proceed to map grid Delta-Hotel-Niner-Ait”.

Using “Delta” instead of “D” avoids confusion between “BH98” and “DH98”. A simple safe guard against a potential hazard. Why not try using it next time you have to clarify something, help educate those who still think "m" is for "mary" and "c" is for cat???

Military Phonetic Alphabet Chart

In addition to the traditional military usage, civilian industry uses the alphabet to combat similar problems in the transmission of messages over telephone systems. For example, it is often used in the retail industry where customer or site details are spoken over the telephone (in order to authorize a credit agreement or confirming stock codes), although ad hoc coding is often used in that instance.

It has found heavy usage in the information technology industry to accurately and quickly communicate serial/reference codes (which can be and are frequently extremely long) or other specialised information by voice.

Phonetic Alphabet and Pronunciation

The pronunciation of the words in the alphabet as well as numbers may vary according to the language habits of the speakers. In order to eliminate wide variations in pronunciation, posters illustrating the pronunciation desired are available from the ICAO.

VIDEO: An excellent comprehensive phonetic alphabet tutorial

Phonetic alphabet for helicopter pilots


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Summary
Aviation Phonetic Alphabet
Article Name
Aviation Phonetic Alphabet
Description
The phonetic alphabet is an essential part to any aviators knowledge base, start using it today to speed your Basic Aeronautical Knowledge learning process.
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Publisher Name
Redback Aviation
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