Stand By

In the Southern California area we have seen an increased use of the word "STAND BY" by controllers of various facilities.

There seems to be universal lack of knowledge of the meaning of the term "STAND BY" by pilots, as I continually hear them answering the controller, instead of remaining silent, and answering the controller with all kinds of various answers - some really humorous. So, to refresh the memories of those who haven't had an opportunity to read the AIM for a while:

The definition of STAND BY follows below, a direct extract from the AIM PILOT/CONTROLLER Glossary:

 Means the controller or the pilot must pause for a few seconds, usually to attend to other duties of a higher priority. Also means to wait as in "stand by for clearance." The caller should reestablish contact if a delay is lengthy. "Stand by" is not an approval or denial. 

So, when a controller says "1MM Stand By" - no response should be made by the pilot of 1MM. By saying, "Stand by" they told the pilot to cease talking and to wait a few seconds while they tend to something (maybe a 1MM something). Recently, during a very busy time at the airport where I am based, I heard a pilot respond after being told to "Stand by" by saying something to the effect "N12345 is standing by in the runup area."  After a few seconds the controller that told him to STAND BY came back on the freq, obviously distracted again, with something to the effect of "N12345 I told you STAND BY, I am busy trying to get your clearance."  I don't believe, from the look on the pilot's face in the aircraft next to me that he had a clue why he just got chewed out.

The word works for pilots too. If we are busy in the cockpit, and a controller is overwhelming us, all we have to do is say, "Stand by," and when we are ready to talk to him/her, then we call them and let them know we now have time to converse with them.

Fly Safely,

Chuck McGill
Aviation Safety Counselor