Air Traffic Controllers have a stressful job and sometimes pilot don’t make their life any easier. When that calm voice (I am sure they learn this tone at ATC School) gets a steely edge to it, it might have been you that triggered that response by doing one of these pet hates of air traffic controllers.
The Double Click
This might be OK if you talk to your fellow pilot in Class G but give ATC a double-click for a response and you just got put to the back of the holding pattern or you clearance is well and truly at the back of the queue.
“Got him on TCAS”
ATC:ABC do you have XYZ Visual?
ABC: Affirm we have him on TCAS.
Get ready for that steely tone again if you said that. Having it on TCAS is not visual and they WILL ask you again if you have him visual!
No Flight Plan
Request anything from an ATC the first thing they do is bring up your flight plan. If it’s not there they have to submit it while they are busy racking and stacking a number of planes. Understandably their patience is pretty slim with the pilot who did not bother or forgot to submit a flight plan and now wants something. If they are busy, well you are going to have to wait till it’s convenient for them.
Flying into restricted airspace
Obviously that is a no-brainer but the plot thickens. If the nose of your plane is pointing to a restricted airspace even if you plan to drop underneath it he gets nervous. Remember he is sitting in front of a radar screen not a crystal ball and he gets nervous when he does not know what your intentions are.
ATC use the estimate you gave him to slot the different planes into a landing sequence, if you give him an ETA while you are still in the climb he knows that you are lazy and you will be treated accordingly. Rather say you will give him a ETA later in the cruise than a half-baked ETA.
This is a big one, pilots that should have been DJ’s. Blah Blah Blah clogging up the airwaves, think what you need to say and be clear and concise. ATC does not want to hear about your epic voyage and what other great adventures you have installed for them! K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple Stupid and don’t be one of those fools that try to fit a 1 minute sentence into 20 sec, you just sound like a fool and nobody understands you.
ATC are not Sun gods so you don’t have to be awestruck by their voice, they are there to do a job, so in the words of Jerry Maguire “help them to help you” .