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Jim Meade

How Do You Announce "Experimental"?

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Experimental aircraft are supposed to announce their status when they initiate a talk with ATC.  I try to remember to do that but am not perfect.

My preferred procedure is to say, "Cedar Rapids Tower, Flight Design 319CT Experimental with Romeo landing Cedar Rapids" or something like that.

One often hears home builders announce, "Experimental 12345 landing Ottumwa".  No clue as to the type of aircraft or it's operating characteristics.  At my home field we have "experimental" aircraft that include gliders, Vans RV, FD, Pitts, Beech Bonanza, L29s, an M1 and lord knows what all else.  If the L29, a Czech jet trainer, and the glider both got on the air and said "experimental" the casual listener would have no clue of the vastly different and important flight characteristics.

I lead with FD rather than experimental because if one knows or looks up the FDCT designator one knows the operating characteristics.  One could say that a homebuilt Vans RV is correctly called a Smith or a Jones or something, not a Vans RV, but the fact is they all fly like a Vans RV so it makes sense to call them that and toss in the experimental to make the ATC people happy.  

As a matter of fact, the L29s announce as L29, the M1 calls itself a helicopter, the glider is a glider, the Beech is a Bonanza and so forth.  Yet, I hear a Rans S20 called an "Experimental" - whatever that means!

Do any of you with ELSA certificates announce as "experimental 12345" or do you call yourself a Flight Design 12345 experimental (first call only)?

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I say "Experimental 509CT", you could always say "Experimental Flight Design 509CT".  But usually if they want more information they will ask for it.  Never have I had a tower ask me for an aircraft type, but flight following almost always does.  After the initial contact they will say something like "say aircraft type" and I will say "identifier is foxtrot delta charlie tango".

I try to keep my radio calls as brief as I can, so "experimental 509CT" is kind of the minimum length over anything else you could say.  If they want more information they will ask for it.  Honestly, nobody in ATC knows what the heck a Flight Design is, so using that give them no useful performance information anyway.I say "Experimental 509CT", you could always say "Experimental Flight Design 509CT".  But usually if they want more information they will ask for it.  Never have I had a tower ask me for an aircraft type, but flight following almost always does.  After the initial contact they will say something like "say aircraft type" and I will say "identifier is foxtrot delta charlie tango".

I try to keep my radio calls as brief as I can, so "experimental 509CT" is kind of the minimum length over anything else you could say.  If they want more information they will ask for it.  Honestly, nobody in ATC knows what the heck a Flight Design is, so using that gives them no useful performance information anyway.

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A Controller suggested that I announce "Light Sport 521JW"... his theory is that the Controllers and fellow traffic will immediately know how fast/slow the plane travels.  I do get asked for the identifier and I respond as Andy outlined.  I would say I have been asked for my identifier about 5-6 times.

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2 minutes ago, AGLyme said:

A Controller suggested that I announce "Light Sport 521JW"... his theory is that the Controllers and fellow traffic will immediately know how fast/slow the plane travels.  I do get asked for the identifier and I respond as Andy outlined.  I would say I have been asked for my identifier about 5-6 times.

Sort of...there are LSA that max out at 60kt, and some that can go 125kt.  I don't think it gives them as much info as they think it does.  :)

I have heard some say "Experimental Light Sport".

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I try to use just the word Experimental for general unicom and such.  When I converted the DAR was very clear - don't use the lingo FD any longer, that's not valid.  We'll it only took me a couple hours out of Tulsa before a controller asked for type, so to cut to the chase I then provided FDCT in correct phraseology.  Later towards Indiana with a +40 tail wind and 155 knot ground speed a controller called me RV simply based on speed I was moving!  I don't fly a whole lot with flight following, but when I do I use Flight Design on initial call (and often have to state FDCT for type) or it becomes a battle.  Controllers want the ICAO identifier and if does not match something on their end, no dice.  I like the phrase Experimental Flight Design, seems like a good approach.  I pride myself on clear brief radio calls, this does not help.

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2 hours ago, FlyingMonkey said:

I have also been called an RV by a controller that just saw me as an experimental with no further data.  I didn't correct her.

I consider that an insult.:D

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Here we all just use what the plane is. Flight Design 525AB, RV 525AB, Sting 525AB, Sling 525AB, Kitfox 525AB, Sport Cruiser 525AB, Tenam 525AB.

If you only say experimental they have absolutely no idea what you are. Experimental is not an I.D. just a general term. High wing or low wing, fast or slow, ect... Many of these controllers know what they are and if not can look them up in their books. The book doesn't list experimental.

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After purchasing my plane in Iowa in December, I began the flight home to California. Though not experimental, I tried “Flight Design” and “Light Sport” both and nobody seemed to know what I was talking about. After using Light Sport, two different controllers asked me to confirm “Life support”! When I got home, I read the proper input was FDCT, which solved my next contact and I even received a “Thank you” from the controller. Once again, I found the information on this site!

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Life support - that’s a pretty epic one 😀

I am amazed controllers aren’t even familiar with the light sport label itself ..

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I’m new to the light sport arena, but it really surprised me that they didn’t simply accept the term light sport. The airport where I purchased the airplane and did some dual, before flying it home, didn’t have any problems with it, but there is a CTLS used for flight training based there, so I’m sure the controllers are used to it. 

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“Light Sport” is used for all announcements.  When the controller asks what the type is, then the FDCT is revealed.  
when I first got the plane, I used “Flight Design 521jw”... I was asked for repeats.  We don’t have a lot of Light Sport airplanes up here in the Northeast but folks know what the Light Sport  category is and generally how fast it goes.   I would rather use Flight Design, sounds better than Light Sport, but Light Sport improves the information quality for others in the pattern and FF.  That’s in my experience flying up here between Boston and New York.

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When my airplane was SLSA, I was "Flight Design 509CT", now that I'm ELSA I use "Experimental 509CT".  As I mentioned, if they ask for more information or the type, I give them FDCT.

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Andy,

You're still a Flight Design. That never changed. ELSA or SLSA you're still the same aircraft.

Your ID is still a Flight Design in their books. There is no experimental ID's in their books.

Same with Sting, Sling, RV12, Tecnam. These are in the books regardless if you went experimental. 

 

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10 minutes ago, Roger Lee said:

Andy,

You're still a Flight Design. That never changed. ELSA or SLSA you're still the same aircraft.

 

Surprisingly refreshing take on it ... I agree.

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2 hours ago, Philip Welsch said:

Operating limitations for ELSA require notification as experimental on first call up to ATC.

And." Flight Design CT NxxxCT experimental", would cover that while also relaying the type of aircraft.

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Around Wichita (a lot of flight testing) when I was doing flight testing we always used X-ray November xxxxx.  That tells the controller you are experimental.  
 

Last time I went into their Class C I used Flight Design Nxxxxx. My CTSW is SLSA but they called me experimental. I didn’t correct them.

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2 hours ago, Isham said:

Around Wichita (a lot of flight testing) when I was doing flight testing we always used X-ray November xxxxx.  That tells the controller you are experimental.  
 

Last time I went into their Class C I used Flight Design Nxxxxx. My CTSW is SLSA but they called me experimental. I didn’t correct them.

The term "experimental" imposes some restrictions on your airplane if the controllers choose to implement them.  If it were me, I'd educate them that I was flying an FDCT and it is a Special Light Sport Aircraft and NOT experimental. I know, I know, but I'd rather educate the controller up front than try to educate them while being forced to execute a procedure that I'm not required to.  Maybe others have a different thought?

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