Boundary Bay (CZBB)
Boundary Bay airport is one of the busiest airports in Canada. The
speak quickly and expect the pilots to already know the published
In preparation for flying here, buy a VTA and a CFS and study the
points. Visit the Boundary
Airport SOPs page to read more about local procedures. My page here
for student pilots, foreign pilots or pilots coming to CZBB from
airspace who find themselves tongue-tied trying to talk to Boundary Bay
Talking on the Radio
Talking on the radio is one of the top three scariest things for
but it shouldn't be. No one ever got hurt by the microphone button,
it does seem to induce temporary stupidity while you are holding it
The controllers are people, and all they want is for you to be safe.
controllers and student pilots both say stupid things on the radio
My general philosophy of radio calls is to pretend you have to pay by
second, and by the word, for everything you say, and everything they
to you. So give them all the information they expect in the first call,
they don't have to ask for more, but don't say anything you don't need
Listen to be sure that no one else is talking, and that you are not
a conversation. Always start a transmission with your call sign and
as needed, give your position, your altitude, your request and your
You can remember this with I PAID : Ident, Position, Altitude, Intentions,
There are standard phrasings, but there are many things you need to say
the radio that you might not know a phrasing for. Just say what you
to say clearly, and using as few words as possible, without long pauses
In general, to acknowledge a transmission directed to you, all you need
do is say your call sign. That signifies "I understand everything you
and I will comply." An exception to this is if you are told to "wait"
"hold short <runway number>." If you receive one of those
you must read back your call sign and those words. If you are asked a
answer it with just the answer, not a complete sentence, and your call
If you are told to "contact" an agency on a frequency, switch to it and
them your call sign and altitude.
If you are told to "monitor" a frequency, switch to it, and don't say
If it isn't clear from the instruction whether you were asked to
monitor or contact, give the new agency a call.
Do not switch frequency without permission unless you have been
en route" or are well clear of the control zone.
After you start the airplane, listen to the ATIS on 125.5 to hear
"This is Boundary Bay Airport
Charlie, weather at zero one zero zero zulu. Wind zero five zero
five to ten, visibility ten miles. Sky condition two thousand broken,
above. Altimeter two nine nine five. IFR approach VOR approach runway
seven. Landing and departure runway zero seven. Note: outer tower
is not in use. Contact Boundary Bay tower on one one eight decimal one.
ATC on initial contact you have information Charlie."
It's a lot of
information and you should understand what it all means, but to begin
with, make sure you note:
- the runway in use
- if the outer tower frequency is in use
- the information letter (Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, etcetera)
Set your altimeter to match the broadcast setting, then tune 124.3 and
"Boundary Bay Ground, this is Cessna
fifty-two Golf Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, at Pacific, request taxi for
you are going> with <ATIS letter>."
Where you are going
might be "Glen Valley" or "Pitt Meadows" or "Chilliwack."
If you are on a flight plan, include the words "on a flight plan" in
your call to ground. If you are going over the mountains, or going
west, towards Victoria or Nanaimo, include your requested altitude in
the call. So your call might be:
Ground, Cessna 172 Golf Oscar Sierra Bravo, request taxi on a flight
plan to Campbell River four thousand five hundred with Charlie."
They will call you back, it might take a moment, so be patient:
"Cessna one fifty-two Golf Papa
Foxtrot, Boundary Bay Ground. Altimeter setting two nine nine six. Taxi
Alfa for runway zero seven, Nikel departure, squawk three four
seven. Contact Boundary Bay Tower on one one eight decimal one holding
That's a lot of stuff,
so you'd better be anticipating it, and writing it down. That list
- the altimeter setting (29.96)
- a transponder code (the "squawk" - 3427)
- the runway you
will use (07)
- the taxiway to take to get there (A)
- the departure procedures to follow after take-off "Nikel" (that means
at 400' turn
direct Blackie Spit, then continue to a particular bridge on the
Nicomekl River: you have to either know that, or look it up)
- the next controller you need to contact (tower, on 118.1)
If you understood it all, you say: "Golf Papa
If you missed something you can say, "Say again
setting for Golf Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot."
You set your transponder code and adjust your altimeter.
This is pretty much the same information you will receive from any
tower anywhere. The taxi instructions may be more complex. You have
to look up departure instructions (like that "Nikel" departure) in the
CFS. But you now
know the basic recipe.
After your run-up, switch to tower frequency 118.1, and taxi up to the
short line. Stop COMPLETELY behind the line (including your propeller
wingtips) and look to see if any airplanes are coming on final or
on base. If there is someone coming, just wait.
When there is no one coming, wait a moment, because the tower may call
If they don't, call them and say:
"Bay tower, Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot
Some people will say, "ready for takeoff" but duh, what else are you
to do on the runway? I often say "ready on <taxiway>" because at
airports you have multiple airplanes waiting on different taxiways, so
just a habit for me to tell the controller where I am.
If the tower says
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, ready
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, affirmative"
(if you are ready to take off right away)
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, negative"
(if you are not quite ready yet, or if you need some extra time on the
The controller might say:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, wait."
Then you say:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, waiting."
You might hear:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, taxi to
position runway zero seven"
That means you are
allowed to cross the hold short line and go onto the runway. You say:
And then you position
your airplane on the runway. You may not take off until you hear YOUR
call sign followed by the words "cleared take-off." If you don't hear
those words, don't take off. The take-off clearance might sound like:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot cleared
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot cleared
take-off runway zero seven"
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, traffic ahead
in the circuit. Contact outer tower
one two seven decimal six through eight hundred, cleared take-off
runway zero seven"
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot"
If the outer tower controller is working, you will be asked to switch
usually through instructions in your takeoff clearance, as in the
above. If your takeoff instructions do not tell you to
stay on 118.1 until you are told to:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot contact outer
now on one two seven decimal six"
Acknowledge that call, then when you have switched, say:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot eight hundred"
(or whatever your real altitude is, don't lie: they don't care if
you're a couple hundred feet late)
If the controller says,
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, traffic two o'
one thousand seven hundred"
You look to your right for an airplane and say either:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, Contact" (if
you see the airplane)
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, Looking" (if
you don't see it)
The controller will tell you:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, radar
That means that he can see your radar blip on his screen and knows that
it's you. Just acknowledge. Whatever they tell you or command you, obey
if safe, and acknowledge
your call sign.
Eventually they will tell you something like
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, no observed
for four miles, keep the code, cleared on route"
Now you can change frequencies if you want. If they are busy they may
clear you en route. Don't call them unless they asked you to, just keep
going and you may switch
when you are well clear.
Returning to Boundary Bay
Coming back to the airport you again have to listen the the ATIS, and
make a request. Say:
"Boundary Bay tower, Cessna one fifty
Golf Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot <where you are> <your altitude>
landing with <ATIS>."
"Boundary Bay Tower, Cessna one fifty
Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, NIKEL, one thousand eight hundred for landing
(or "One east of King George two thousand for circuits with Charlie")
The tower will give you an altimeter setting, a runway and instructions
joining the circuit. They may tell you to "report
gas stations" or "report Delta Air Park".
That means that when you are over that landmark, you say:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, Airpark"
If the controller asks you a question like "Papa
Foxtrot, what was your point of departure?"
Give the answer, JUST the answer. "Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot
If the controller has not given you a sequence (number for landing) by
time you have joined the circuit, then say the part of the circuit that
were cleared to, and have joined:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot downwind"
The controller will say something like
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, number four,
the second Cessna on base."
You should be able to look ahead and count three airplanes in front of
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, contact"
(People also say things like "with traffic" "has the traffic" or "in
sight." Nothing wrong with that. I just like contact because it is the
You should get a landing clearance like
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot cleared to land
Now you have permission to land. You say:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, contact"
If the landing clearance is something like:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot cleared to land
runway two five, hold short runway three zero for landing traffic."
You are still cleared to land, but you must stop
before reaching the end of the runway, where it meets runway 30. You
must assure the controller you will obey by saying:
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, hold short
If you forget to say the "hold short" part the
controller has to waste time making you say the magic words. If you
don't say them, the controller can't let the other airplane land on
if you are close to landing, and there is no
airplane in front of you, but you haven't got a
clearance you can
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, short final"
as a hint
After you land, you might hear,
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, no delay to
contact ground one twenty four three when off."
"Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot, taxi Delta,
to the apron, monitor ground only, no need to call."
Never change to ground frequency until you are safely over the hold
line. Then do your after landing checks and call ground to request:
"Boundary Bay Ground, Papa Foxtrot
on Delta for the ramp"
These aren't all the possible calls you would hear or have to make, but
should give you the patterns, and get you ready for ATC at Boundary
Things You May Notice
Sometimes when you are on tower frequency, you can hear the ground
or vice versa. That means that the same controller is working both
When you hear him or her make a call on the other frequency, wait long
for the aircraft calling to respond, so the controller isn't heariing
aircraft at once. Boundary Bay controllers have the equipment to do
"frequency coupling" allowing you to hear the aircraft on the other
frequency that the controller is working. Some controllers use it and
Normal radio procedures ask you to make an initial call like "Boundary
Tower, Cessna Golf Papa Foxtrot Foxtrot with Echo," and to call clear.
Bay does NOT want you to make these calls. Just start in with the whole
It's a local procedure.
Robyn's Flying Start Home
This page written 15 February 2004 by Robyn Stewart. Last updated 3
Copyright 2004 Flying