flying in France


radio procedures

Apart from the international emergency frequency, there are two frequencies with a special but general use :

  • 123.5 is used to give and get information near an airfield where no dedicated frequency is available. (Click the link for details)
  • 123.45 is used for informal aircraft to aircraft conversations.
  • 130.0 is used for mountain flying.

Radio in French


If you don't speak French, there is no way you can learn it, even aeronautical French, on this web page. Knowing a word doesn't mean that you'll be able to understand it when it is garbled on the radio, or that you'll even be able to express yourself so that other pilots will be able to understand what you say. Don't cheat with yourself, with your safety and with other's safety. If you don't speak French, don't use airfields where radio is mandatory and radio in French only is allowed. Unfortunately, this represents most French airfields.

If you speak French fluently, it is up to you to decide whether or not you feel confident enough to venture into r/t in French. Again, don't fool yourself, and in case of any doubt, don't do it. To test your ability, click on the links below.

(1)You can also hear French words listed below being spoken. To hear the French words being spoken from the list below, click here. I rather doubt you will ever get the accent quite right! If you try to sound like Inspector Clouseau of the Pink Panther, you won't be too far off! Actually, if you do try speaking French, you will immediately be recognised as a foreigner, and usually, those using the frequency will speak simply and slowly to you.

(2) An other test : listen to this short message, keeping in mind that it was recorded without any noise, engine... You can expect such a message from an aircraft heading to an uncontrolled airfield. Compare what you understood with what is really said. Click here to see the translation (opens in new window).


one : unité
two : deux
three : trois
four : quatre
five : cinq
six: six
seven : sept
eight : huit
niner : neuf
ought : zéro


France uses the international alphbet, (Alpha, Bravo...) with sometimes the French words instead of the English ones, when they're close : (Novembre instead of November). To hear whole "French" alphabet, click on the link.

Pattern and position

downwind leg : branche vent arrière
base leg :base
final : finale
short final : courte finale
take off : décollage
landing : atterrissage
go around : remise de gaz
taxiing : je roule
lining up : je m'aligne
holding point : point d'attente
threshold : seuil de piste
runway: piste
North : Nord
East : Est
South : Sud
West : Ouest

straight in approach : approche directe
direct approach: approche semi directe

overhead : verticale
abeam (North) : travers (nord)
runway vacated : piste dégagée.

Radio procedures

call sign : indicatif d'appel
say again : répétez
report (holding point) : rappelez (au point d'arrêt)
sqawk : transpondeur (the device) or : affichez le code transpondeur
sqawk code : code transpondeur
go ahead : poursuivez
I request (taxiing instructions) : je demande (des instructions pour le roulage)
speak more slowly : parlez plus lentement

The reality of French radio talk does not require a whole amount of knowledge. Keep it simple.

examples in understandable Franglais.

approaching an airfield

Golf Novembre Echo Fox Sierra, Papa Alpha vingt huit, approche Vesoule du Nord à dix miles à deux milles pieds
G-NEFS Pa28 approaching Vesoule ten miles North at 2000ft.

Fly 500 ft over the circuit height and play 'hunt the windsock' Once you have decided the favoured runway, make these calls. Remember that you must always name the airfield, due to the common frequencies in use by other airfields.

If the wind is completely at right angles to the runway, you must then listen out to hear if there are other aircraft are in the same circuit. They will be calling the runway they are landing on....example  Vesoule, piste zero neuf  (Vesoule runway 09) For heavens sake, land the same way and our French friends, otherwise you make get a Jodel through your windshield!

Descend to join downwind

Golf Novembre Echo Fox Sierra vent arrière Vesoule, piste zero neuf
G-NEFS downwind Vesoule 09


Golf Novembre Echo Fox Sierra base(baz)  Vesoule, piste zero neuf


Golf Novembre Echo Fox Sierra finale Vesoule, piste zero neuf
G-NEFS final Vesoule 09

You can try out your French with French ATC. They speak good English, of course, and if they think you are drowning, they will switch to English very quickly!

this is a typical Franglais en route call

Golf Novembre Echo Fox Sierra, Papa Alpha vingt huit, deux persons abord, provenance Echo Golf Bravo Fox, destination Lima Fox Alpha Tango transpondeur sept mille, à deux mille pieds point Charlie, pour la piste en utilization et le Fox Echo.
G-NEFS Pa28 two POB from EGBF to LFAT squawking 7000 at 2000 feet at reporting point C for runway in use and QFE