Our Summer operating hours are:

Monday to Sunday - 9am - 7.30pm

Opening hours will be reviewed and may be subject to change. Any changes will be notified to the Members in advance.

Outside these times please email: flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com
Home > Blog > Flight Radiotelephony Frtol

Flight Radiotelephony (FRTOL)

Posted 16 Feb 2022

Flight Radiotelephony

While it may seem like there is not much to operating an aircraft’s radio station, there are several details about the standard operating procedures of radio communication that a pilot must be aware of when in command of a flight.

If you have already acquired the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) or Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL), chances are you can’t wait to take to the skies on your own. However, it is necessary to understand that more documentation is necessary before you can be allowed to pilot an aircraft.

Among this documentation is the Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL), which is an indispensable part of any pilot’s portfolio. This certification is necessary if a pilot wishes to operate the radio station within an aircraft.

While it may seem like there is not much to operating an aircraft’s radio station, there are several details about the standard operating procedures of radio communication that a pilot must be aware of when in command of a flight.

This is a national licence which is necessary if you are to be authorised to pilot an aircraft, and while it is mostly issued in conjunction with an existing pilot licence such as the Private Pilot Licence and the Commercial Pilot Licence, it can also be issued as a standalone by the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority


 Some of the jargon used by radio operators will fly over the heads of the average listener. The phrases and wordings used are specific to aviation, with certain words holding different meanings as compared to what they would in regular everyday conversation.

Mastering this language is of the utmost importance since the safety of the crew and passengers is heavily reliant on communication with people on the ground.

In case of an emergency, such as rerouting or emergency landings, it is imperative to communicate the exact issue with the control tower so that the relevant arrangements can be made. In case a passenger becomes ill while on the flight, it is important for the pilot to be able to communicate the extent of the medical emergency to the crew on the ground, who can then call for the needed medical reinforcements.

In case a flight gets lost, which is possible due to bad weather conditions, establishing communication with a radio tower is of the highest importance so that the pilot can steer the flight in the right direction and reach the required destination.

The FROTL training leads to the holder becoming more confident in their radio operation skills, which is necessary in the case of an emergency. If a pilot is fumbling with the controls in the middle of a crisis, it may affect their ability to ask for on-ground assistance.

The radio equipment is also of a complex nature, and chances are laymen will be unaware of how to operate it correctly. For this reason, training in flight radiotelephony is incredibly important for a safe and successful aviation experience.


The first and foremost requirement for a Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) is proficiency in the English language. The communication over the radio is in English, and it is the language of choice of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), the requirements of which all CAA-issued licences are compliant (with the exception of the Light Aircraft Pilot Licence).

The holder of the FRTOL must be at least 16 years of age, which is the minimum requirement for a learner’s pilot licence. In addition to this, the applicant will have to pass a theoretical and practical exam in order to qualify for a FRTOL.

The applicant needs to have passed all the required theoretical exams needed for a Private Pilot Licence (PPL). These include nine subjects, including Meteorology, Air Law, Communication and Navigation, as well as Human Performance.


 While it may appear daunting at first, mastering flight radiotelephony is not all that difficult. You will just need to learn the art of communicating clearly and with simple language via an aeroplane’s radio station.

Simulator training can help you get a hang of the in-flight radio station, which can help you later on in the practical exam which will also be held on a simulator. The practical exam is a UK Civil Aviation Authority requirement and will test your ability to communicate via the radio.

The test is likely to include emergency scenarios to test how you perform under pressure and respond to unexpected news. These are all ways to test how well you will be able to manage during an in-flight emergency.

The theoretical exam component is relatively simple, and it has the official CAA radiotelephony manual as required reading. This manual will help familiarise you with certain phraseology and words used during radio communication to streamline and simplify the process. The exam is around 45 minutes long.


 Certain words are used to mean something very specific during radio communication. It is important to master this radio shorthand to ensure free-flowing and clear communication.

For example, “How do you read” is used when either person on the radio wishes to inquire about how clearly the message has been transmitted. The word “maintain” is used to let the pilot or radio operator on the other side know that something should be continued in accordance with the most recent instruction or command.

Similarly, to signal that permission has not been granted, the radio operator or pilot may simply use the word “negative”. As opposed to this, when the operator says “affirm”, it indicates that permission to proceed has been granted. When an operator says “roger”, it means the message was received and understood.

When asked to “standby”, the operator is basically being asked to wait for further instruction before taking any action. The word “willco” means the operator has understood and will comply with the message sent their way.

If an operator asks the person on the other side to “read back” a message, it means they wish for the person to repeat what has been told to them to ensure that the message has been relayed correctly. In the case that an operator is asked to “disregard”, it means they are being requested to ignore the previous message that was sent their way.


Sherburn Aero Club offers a dedicated Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s course every first Sunday of the month. In order to book your place for the day-long course, you will have to contact the flight desk who will then reserve your spot.

The course covers both the theoretical and practical aspects of training and is bound to help you gain confidence in your ability to communicate clearly over the radio.

A good handle on radio communication is one of the hallmarks of a successful pilot, whether commercial or private, regardless of what kind of aircraft is being piloted.


 If you apply for your Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FROTL) at the same time as your Private Pilot Licence, the application is processed free of cost. However, if you apply for the licence separately at a later date, a standard fee set by the Civil Aviation Authority of £73 applies. 


 There are two main types of licences available to aspiring pilots. These are the Commercial Pilot Licence (CPL) and the Private Pilot Licence (PPL). The CPL is the licence of choice for those who wish to pursue a career in aviation since it allows for monetary compensation in exchange for piloting services.

As compared to the PPL, the CPL is a lot more difficult to obtain, given the greater number of training hours required and higher costs involved. In order to qualify for a CPL, the applicant must log in at least 200 hours of total flight time and needs to be at least 18 years of age.

However, a career in aviation is rather demanding and it is best to get a feel for the job before diving into it headfirst. Due to the large investment of time and money required for a CPL, it is best to start your journey with a PPL and upgrade to a professional licence later when the need arises.

If you were to abandon aviation after putting in the hours and money to get the CPL, it would be too much of a waste.


 When it comes to making your aviation dreams come true, acquiring the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) should be the first item on your list. While the PPL may be relatively easy to obtain, it will open several doors for you, allowing you to eventually take whatever route you like in your aviation journey.

This licence serves as an entry into the world of aviation, and can always be upgraded later with a few added hours of training and some extra money. The minimum age requirement for the PPL is 17 years, and the number of hours needed to be logged in in order to obtain this licence is 45.

Out of the total 45 hours, 10 must be dedicated to solo flights, with at least one cross-country flight in the mix that totals 270 km in distance. Nine theoretical exams corresponding to subjects such as Air Law and Meteorology must also be passed with at least a 75% score in order to qualify for a PPL.

The PPL is best suited to hobbyists and beginners, because of which it is the licence of choice for trainees. The PPL, unlike the CPL, does not allow for monetary compensation in return for piloting services.

Regardless, the PPL is in no way restrictive. Since it is in accordance with the guidelines issued by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), a PPL holder can fly anywhere in the world with the correct documentation and prior customs approval.

Although you cannot pursue a career in aviation with this licence, there is no limit to the amount of fun you can have with it. Whether it's flying to far-flung locations on a whim or flying across to another state to have a meal at your favourite restaurant, the PPL is a great option for pilots who are in it for recreational purposes.

Private pilots can also offer their services for more noble causes, such as volunteering with non-profits to aid in search and rescue missions. Sometimes, aerial assistance can make the biggest difference for someone stuck in a crisis in a location not easily accessible by motor vehicles.


 There really is no limit to the kinds of aircraft you can fly with a PPL. All you need is the required rating for the aircraft and you’re ready to take off. However, since the PPL is preferred mostly by either trainees or hobbyists, the aircraft of choice belongs to the light aircraft variety.

The most popular light aircraft in the United Kingdom are called microlights, which include parakites, flex-wings, three-axis, and light sport microlights.

While parakites and flex-wings aren’t strictly aeroplanes and belong more to the powered parachute variety, the three-axis is the most popular aircraft among hobbyists.

The three-axis consists of a fuselage, wing and tail component, and its durable build and speed make it a great option for thrill-seekers. The fact that it is small and relatively easy to pilot due to its simple controls also makes it very popular among beginners and trainees, as well as hobbyists who wish to fly a sturdy aeroplane without the hassle of complex multi-engine aircraft.

Three-axis aircraft are also relatively cheaper as compared to larger multi-engine aircraft. The newest addition to the microlight variety is the light sport aircraft (LSA), which is slightly larger than a traditional microlight, and a bit more expensive as well.

Sherburn’s fleet

At Sherburn Aero Club, we pride ourselves on our fleet of a wide variety of aircraft ready for take-off. These include the Piper 2A-28 Cadet, Piper 2A-28 Warrior, Aero AT-3, as well as Robin 2160.

For those who wish to invest in an aircraft of their own, whether on a private or shared basis, Sherburn offers a variety of aircraft up for sale as well.

In addition to this, Sherburn Aero Club is home to a diverse community of aviation enthusiasts, making it a great place to make friends with fellow hobbyists and trainees.    


Sherburn Aero Club, which has been operational since 1964, is the ideal place for most of your training and flying needs. It is one of the largest flying clubs in the North of England and also one of the largest in the country.

 With a large fleet of new aircraft and an airfield refurbishment with new runways, hangars, and an extended clubhouse, we cater to brand new flyers who have just started their journey to the skies, as well as seasoned flyers who have been operating aircraft for decades.

If you wish to begin your career in aviation or wish to take to the skies as a hobby, Sherburn’s flight training school offers private and commercial licenses, along with pilot medicals to ensure a smooth journey going forward.

Sherburn also offers a dedicated day-long Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence (FRTOL) course for those wishing to get the certification, running the first Sunday of every month. For those who wish to experience the thrill of a flight for fun or to help fuel their aviation dreams, Sherburn offers experience flights for the newbie, as well as the veteran.

The flight experience option is also available for people who wish to take to the skies for special occasions, even if they aren’t into aviation for the long run. In addition to that, if you are looking for a hangarage for your own aircraft, need servicing or repairs, want to buy a new aircraft or aviation equipment, or are just looking to enjoy and watch the aircraft, Sherburn Aero Club is the place to be.

Call us on 01977 682 674​​​, email us at flightdesk@sherburnaeroclub.com, or message us via our online contact form for more information on the private pilot training services as well as Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s licence requirements and training available in the United Kingdom.

Photo by Cody Fitzgerald on Unsplash 



Latest Posts

Contact us

GDPR - By clicking submit, you agree that Sherburn Aero Club will hold the details you have provided in the form above to enable your enquiry to be addressed in a timely manner. Your details will not be passed on to any other organisations and will not be used for marketing purposes. If you wish these details to be deleted from our system at any time, please contact us.