Flight Radiotelephone Operator Licence (FRTOL)

The exam unlike the others is set by the CAA, it is 12 question in length for the written theory exam and also has a much longer practical exam on a simulator. Each question has 4 plausible answers of which you need to select one.

As always these are a copy of my personal notes they may not be complete or 100% correct! please always defer to you instructor.

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Notes follow below:

Write down the instruction as received then read back

Read back in same order the items were received.


Services 3 types: https://www.caa.co.uk/Commercial-industry/Airspace/Air-traffic-control/Licences/Radio-Operator-s-Certificate-of-Competence/

  • ATC (Air Traffic Control) – by licensed controller, call signs: Ground, Tower, Approach, Radar Director or Delivery.
    • Clearances, information and control
  • AFIS (Airdrome Flight Information Services) – by FISO (Flight Information services officer)
    • Provides information such as weather
    • Direct you while on the ground other than the runway
  • AGCS (Air Ground communication service) No control

You must read back the following items:

  • Taxi Instructions
  • Level instructions
  • Heading instructions
  • Speed instructions
  • Airways / routing
  • Runway
  • Any clearance involving a runway
  • SSR(secondary surveillance radar) Instructions
  • Altimeter settings
  • VDF information
  • Type of service provided
  • Frequency changes
  • Transition levels

The above can be simplified as:

  • Clearances
  • Instructions
  • All numbers excluding weather (other than pressure)
  • Type of service


 Abbreviating call signs:

  • Only once the ground station has shortened it and where it will not cause confusion.
  • UK abbreviations G-ABCD lose the firs 2 after the “–” e.g. G-CD
  • US N12345P becomes N345P

ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information Service) – When asking for relevant clearances you specify the letter given during the transmission and the QNH, indicating how current you information is.

  • Information Letter e.g. C
  • Time
  • Runway
  • Wind
  • Visibility
  • Temperature
  • Dew point
  • QNH
  • QFE
  • Radio frequency


Airspace – A,B,C,D,E,F are all controlled, G outside of controlled airspace.



               Basic – Pressure and local information called FIS in other counties.

               Traffic – Local Information, Pressure and Traffic information (no de-confliction!) Radar.

               Procedural – (IFR flights only) De-confliction from other Procedural traffic.

               De-confliction service (IFR only) – instructions to maintain separation.


Special VFR (SVFR) – Pilot must request, Excuses you from the 1,000ft rule when crossing CTR, you must still be 500ft clear and able to glide clear.

VHF band – 30MHz to 300Mhz

Air band – 108.000 – 136.975Mhz Voice from 117.950 below this is Nav aids.

Speech – Learn key words, speech not to exceed 100 words per minutes. Affirm, standby, Wilco are useful.

Numbers – said individually except for Visibility, Flight Level and Altitude which are said with hundreds and thousands up to 9,000. 11,000 is said One One Thousand and pronounced Wun Wun Thousand 


Radio Check Numbers:

  1. Not received Reply is to transmitting aircraft as the call sign by definition cannot be heard!
  2. Heard intermittently
  3. Heard but hard to understand
  4. Readable
  5. Perfect


Call priority:

  1. Distress i.e. Mayday
  2. Urgency i.e. Pan-pan
  3. Direction finding
  4. Flight Safety
  5. Metrology


Pressure settings:

  • 1,000 and above read only numbers
  • 999 and below read numbers and add hectopascal (hPa)


Climb TO Altitude 3,000 QNH.
Climb TO Height 3,000 QFE
Climb FL70 – Note the there is no TO in an FL instruction.


How to call a MATZ:

A/C Marham Approach, G-ABCD Request MATZ and ATZ Penetration, Basic service
Approach G-ABCD, Marham Approach Pass your Message
A/C G-ABCD, C42, Chatteris, Cromer via Marham, 8 miles south of Kings Lynn, 2,500ft, 998 hPa, VFR
Approach G-CD Squawk 0514
A/C Squawk 0514 G-CD
Approach G-CD is identified 8 miles south West of Marham, Basic service
A/C Basic Service G-CD
Approach G-CD, MATZ and ATZ penetration approved
A/C MATZ and ATZ penetration approved G-CD