Aviation In Canada

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

"Call the tower when you get in."

Many of us while flying have heard the phrase, "After you land, please call the tower." Most of us at some point during flight training, but other times as well on the odd occasion. At Aviation.ca, someone asked in the forum about this directive. Should you call?

One person wrote back that he often didn't call (Often? How often does he get this?), while another wrote in stating with great authority that one should never call the tower under any circumstances. I can't figure out why not.

When the tower asks for this phone call, they're likely trying to find out why you did something, and perhaps give you a reason not to do it again. Sure, the controller may be upset, but more than likely he or she is trying to help you without going further. It may be a way of telling you something (like what was expected of you when this was said, for example) without admonishing you on the radio for all to hear. Or they may be trying to correct a certain type of behaviour without "writing you up". ATC is not a traffic cop, but both pilots and ATC have a responsibility to "write up" anything observed that seems to contravene regulations. They may have witnessed something that was against the rules and rather send some paperwork your way, they may be sticking their neck out to say, "Hey, don't do that again." Why do I say sticking their neck out? Because if something did happen that was wrong, and someone else reports it when they simply asked you to call the tower, they can get in shit for not reporting it themselves.

I'm not trying to say that this is always what happens and you won't get reamed out when you call, but I think if you ever hear this, perhaps you should make the call. The guy who demands that pilots should never, under any circumstances, make that call is likely a problem for more than just ATC in the air and is too arrogant to figure out why. Perhaps too stupid to recognize it, too.