Comms Standards: Why we don't use Ascending

Climbing Vs Ascending, why is one a Communications Standard?

In RWA, ascending isn’t featured in the terminology sections of any educational booklet - but why?

Well they both mean the same thing, right? Yes, they do.

So why do you get a slap on the wrist, or fail a check for using it? Well, simply put the use of ascend on any radio communication can be mistaken for descend.

Surely a pilot flying an aircraft at FL280 wouldn’t mistake you saying descend to FL310? Wrong, in the past controllers have had issues with really poor and degraded communications. This, multiplied by different accents and language make for difficult conditions quite a lot of the time. So a pilots first language may be Spanish, he/she is forced into using English in aviation. Put them in UK airspace where dialect, rhythm, speed, diction and pitch are literally all completely different- not to mention the diversity of accent we have and it’s a potion for disaster.


Ctlr: Easy123 … broken …scend … garbled … 8 thousand, traffic 1 O’clock Distortion feet crosses left to right…"

Imagine hearing that in real time, in a real situation where you have potentially hundreds of lives in your care.

Hence - we use climb to build situational awareness and improve safety. Climb and descend are the standards expected across the world with some areas also accepting “Elevate”, this is mainly military traffic which employs “See & Avoid” rules in higher traffic density areas.


So we don’t use ascending because of possible miscommunication

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No, it can be mistaken for descend.

Military also have different terminology which leaves the pilot responsible for the level change.

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