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These Phonetic Spelling Alphabets are not a phonetic alphabet in the sense in which that term is used in phonetics, i.e., it is not a system for transcribing speech sounds; in fact, the ICAO alphabet described below uses the International Phonetic Alphabet to describe how the spelling words are to be pronounced. See the phonetic alphabet disambiguation page, and also phonetic notation.

FAA radiotelephony alphabet and Morse code chart

The International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet, commonly known as the ICAO phonetic alphabet, and in a variation also known officially as the ITU phonetic alphabet and figure code, sometimes called the NATO phonetic alphabet, is the most widely used radiotelephone spelling alphabet. Although often called "phonetic alphabets", spelling alphabets are unrelated to phonetic transcription systems such as the International Phonetic Alphabet. Instead, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) alphabet assigned codewords acrophonically to the letters of the English alphabet, so that critical combinations of letters and numbers are most likely to be pronounced and understood by those who exchange voice messages by radio or telephone, regardless of language differences or the quality of the communication channel.[1]

The 26 code words in the International phonetic alphabet are assigned to the 26 letters of the English alphabet in alphabetical order as follows: Alfa, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo, Foxtrot, Golf, Hotel, India, Juliett, Kilo, Lima, Mike, November, Oscar, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Sierra, Tango, Uniform, Victor, Whiskey, X-ray, Yankee, Zulu.

Contents

International adoptionEdit

After the phonetic alphabet was developed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)[2] (see history below) it was adopted by many other international and national organizations, including the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the American Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU), the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO); and by many military organizations such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the now-defunct Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).

The same alphabetic code words are used by all agencies, but each agency chooses one of two different sets of numeric code words. NATO uses the regular English numeric words (Zero, One, with some alternative pronunciations), whereas the IMO provides for compound numeric words (Nadazero, Unaone, Bissotwo...). In practice these are used very rarely, as they frequently result in confusion between speakers of different languages.

UsageEdit

A spelling alphabet is used to spell parts of a message containing letters and numbers to avoid confusion, because many letters sound similar, for instance "n" and "m" or "f" and "s"; the potential for confusion increases if static or other interference is present. For instance the message "proceed to map grid DH98" could be transmitted as "proceed to map grid Delta-Hotel-Niner-Ait". Using "Delta" instead of "D" avoids confusion between "DH98" and "BH98" or "TH98". The unusual pronunciation of certain numbers was designed to reduce confusion.

In addition to the traditional military usage, civilian industry uses the alphabet to avoid similar problems in the transmission of messages by telephone systems. For example, it is often used in the retail industry where customer or site details are spoken by telephone (to authorize a credit agreement or confirm stock codes), although ad hoc coding is often used in that instance. It has been used often by information technology workers to communicate serial/reference codes (which are often very long) or other specialised information by voice. Most major airlines use the alphabet to communicate Passenger Name Records (PNRs) internally, and in some cases, with customers. It is often used in a medical context as well, to avoid confusion when transmitting information.

Several letter codes and abbreviations using the spelling alphabet have become well-known, such as Bravo Zulu (letter code BZ) for "well done",[3] Checkpoint Charlie (Checkpoint C) in Berlin, and Zulu Time for Greenwich Mean Time or Coordinated Universal Time. During the Vietnam War, the U.S. government referred to the Viet Cong guerrillas and the group itself as VC, or Victor Charlie; the name "Charlie" became synonymous with this force.

Pronunciation of code wordsEdit

The final choice of code words for the letters of the alphabet and for the digits was made after hundreds of thousands of comprehension tests involving 31 nationalities. The qualifying feature was the likelihood of a code word being understood in the context of others. For example, football has a higher chance of being understood than foxtrot in isolation, but foxtrot is superior in extended communication.[4]

The pronunciation of the code words varies according to the language habits of the speaker. To eliminate wide variations in pronunciation, recordings and posters illustrating the pronunciation desired by the ICAO are available.[4][5] However, there are still differences in pronunciation between the ICAO and other agencies, and the ICAO has conflicting Latin-alphabet and IPA transcriptions. Also, although all codes for the letters of the alphabet are English words, they are not in general given English pronunciations. Assuming that the transcriptions are not intended to be precise, only 11 of the 26—Bravo, Echo, Hotel, Juliet(t), Kilo, Mike, Papa, Quebec, Romeo, Whiskey, and Zulu—are given English pronunciations by all these agencies, though not always the same English pronunciations.

Pronunciations are somewhat uncertain because the agencies, while ostensibly using the same pronunciations, give different transcriptions, which are often inconsistent from letter to letter. The ICAO gives a different pronunciation for IPA transcription and for respelling, and the FAA also gives different pronunciations depending on the publication consulted, the FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (§ 4-2-7), the FAA Flight Services manual (§ 14.1.5), or the ATC manual (§ 2-4-16). ATIS gives English spellings, but does not give pronunciations or numbers. The ICAO, NATO, and FAA use modifications of English numerals, with stress on one syllable, while the ITU and IMO compound pseudo-Latinate numerals with a slightly different set of modified English numerals, and with stress on each syllable. Numbers 10–99 are spelled out (that is, 17 is "1–7" and 60 is "6–0"), while for hundreds and thousands the English words hundred and thousand are used.[6][5][7][8][9][10]

The pronunciation of the digits 3, 4, 5, and 9 differs from standard English – being pronounced tree, fower, fife, and niner. The digit 3 is specified as tree so that it is not pronounced sri; the long pronunciation of 4 (still found in some English dialects) keeps it somewhat distinct from for; 5 is pronounced with a second "f" because the normal pronunciation with a "v" is easily confused with "fire" (a command to shoot); and 9 has an extra syllable to keep it distinct from German nein 'no'.

Only the ICAO prescribes pronunciation with the IPA, and then only for letters.[5] Several of the pronunciations indicated are slightly modified from their normal English pronunciations: /ˈælfɑ, ˈbrɑːˈvo, ˈʃɑːli, ˈdeltɑ, ˈfɔkstrɔt, ɡʌlf, ˈliːmɑ, ˈɔskɑ, siˈerɑ, ˈtænɡo, ˈuːnifɔrm, ˈviktɑ, ˈjænki/, partially due to the substitution of final schwas with the ah vowel; in addition, the intended distinction between the short vowels /o ɑ ɔ/ and the long vowels /oː ɑː ɔː/ is obscure, and has been ignored in the consolidated transcription above. Both the IPA and respelled pronunciations were developed by the ICAO before 1956 with advice from the governments of both the United States and United Kingdom,[11] so the pronunciations of both General American English and British Received Pronunciation are evident, especially in the rhotic and non-rhotic accents. The respelled version is usually at least consistent with a rhotic accent ('r' pronounced), as in CHAR LEE, SHAR LEE, NO VEM BER, YOU NEE FORM, and OO NEE FORM, whereas the IPA version usually specifies a non-rhotic accent ('r' pronounced only before a vowel), as in ˈtʃɑːli, ˈʃɑːli, noˈvembə, and ˈjuːnifɔːm. Exceptions are OSS CAH, VIK TAH and ˈuːnifɔrm. The IPA form of Golf implies it is pronounced gulf, which is not either General American English or British Received Pronunciation. Different agencies assign different stress patterns to Bravo, Hotel, Juliett, November, Papa, X-ray; the ICAO has different stresses for Bravo, Juliett, X-ray in its respelled and IPA transcriptions. The mid back [ɔ] vowel transcribed in Oscar and Foxtrot is actually a low vowel in both Received British and General American, and has been interpreted as such above. Furthermore, the pronunciation prescribed for "whiskey" has no initial [h], although some speakers in both General American and RP pronounce an [h] (or [ʍ]) here, and an initial [h] (or [ʍ]) is categorical in Scotland and Ireland.

Character Code word Conflicting accounts of the pronunciation
ICAO 2008
IPA convention[5]
ICAO recording
(1955)[12]
Wikipedia IPA and respelling ICAO 2008 respelling [5]
ITU-R 2007 (WRC-07) respelling[7] IMO respelling[citation needed] FAA
respelling[8][9]
SIA[13]
(France aeronautical)
NATO & U.S. Army
respelling[14]
A Alfa ˈælfɑ [ˈælfʌ] /ˈælfɑː/ AL-fah AL FAH AL FAH AL FAH ALFAH or
AL-FAH
al fah AL fah
B Bravo ˈbrɑːˈvo [brɑˈvoʊ] /ˌbrɑːˈv/ BRAH-VOH BRAH VOH BRAH VOH BRAH VOH
(1955: BRAH VOH)
BRAHVOH or
BRAH-VO
bra vo BRAH voh
C Charlie ˈtʃɑːli  or
ˈʃɑːli
[ˈtʃɑ˞li],
[ˈʃɑ˞li]
/ˈɑːrl/ CHAR-lee or
/ˈʃɑːrl/ SHAR-lee
CHAR LEE or SHAR LEE CHAR LEE or SHAR LEE CHAR LEE CHARLEE or
CHAR-LEE
tchah li,
char li
CHAR lee
D Delta ˈdeltɑ [ˈdɛltʌ] /ˈdɛltɑː/ DEL-tah DELL TAH DELL TAH DELL TAH DELLTAH or
DELL-TAH
del tah DEL tah
E Echo ˈeko [ˈɛkoʊ] /ˈɛk/ ECK OH ECK OH ECK OH ECKOH or
ECK-OH
èk o EKK oh
F Foxtrot ˈfɔkstrɔt [ˈfɑkstrɑt] /ˈfɒkstrɒt/ FOKS-trot FOKS TROT FOKS TROT FOKS TROT FOKSTROT or
FOKS-TROT
fox trott FOKS trot
G Golf ɡʌlf [sic] [ˈɡʌl(f)] /ˈɡɒlf/ GOLF GOLF GOLF GOLF GOLF golf Golf
H Hotel hoːˈtel [hoʊˈtɛl] /hˈtɛl/ hoh-TEL HOH TELL HOH TELL HOH TELL HOHTELL or
HOH-TELL
ho tèll HO tell
I India ˈindiˑɑ [ˈɪndi.ʌ] /ˈɪndɑː/ IN-dee-ah IN DEE AH IN DEE AH IN DEE AH INDEE AH or
IN-DEE-AH
in di ah IN dee ah
J Juliett ˈdʒuːliˑˈet [ˌdʒuliˈɛt] /ˈlɛt/ JEW-lee-et or
/ˌlˈɛt/ JEW-lee-ET
JEW LEE ETT JEW LEE ETT JEW LEE ETT JEWLEE ETT or
JEW-LEE-ETT
djou li ètt JEW lee ett
K Kilo ˈkiːlo [ˈkiloʊ] /ˈkl/ KEE-loh KEY LOH KEY LOH KEY LOH KEYLOH or
KEY-LOH
ki lo KEY loh
L Lima ˈliːmɑ [ˈlimʌ] /ˈlmɑː/ LEE-mah LEE MAH LEE MAH LEE MAH LEEMAH or
LEE-MAH
li mah LEE mah
M Mike mɑik [ˈmʌɪk] /ˈmk/ MYK MIKE MIKE MIKE MIKE maïk Mike
N November noˈvembə [noʊˈvɛmbɹ̩] /nˈvɛmbər/ noh-VEM-bər[15] NO VEM BER NO VEM BER NO VEM BER NOVEMBER or
NO-VEM-BER
no vèmm ber NOH vem ber
O Oscar ˈɔskɑ [ˈɑskɹ̩] /ˈɒskɑː/ OS-kah OSS CAH OSS CAH OSS CAH OSS-SCAR or
OSS-CAR
oss kar OSS car
P Papa pəˈpɑ [pəˈpɑ] /pɑːˈpɑː/ pah-PAH PAH PAH PAH PAH PAH PAH PAHPAH or
PAH-PAH
pah pah PAH pah
Q Quebec keˈbek [kɛˈbɛk] /kɛˈbɛk/ ke-BEK KEH BECK KEH BECK KEH BECK KEHBECK or
KWUH-BECK
bèk keh BECK
R Romeo ˈroːmiˑo [ˈɹoʊmi.oʊ] /ˈrm/ ROH-mee-oh ROW ME OH ROW ME OH ROW ME OH ROWME OH or
ROW-ME-OH
ro mi o ROW me oh
S Sierra siˈerɑ [siˈɛɾʌ] /sˈɛrɑː/ see-ERR-ah SEE AIR RAH SEE AIR RAH SEE AIR RAH SEEAIRAH or
SEE-AIR-AH
si èr rah see AIR ah
T Tango ˈtænɡo [ˈtæŋɡoʊ] /ˈtæŋɡ/ TANG-goh TANG OH TANG GO TANG GO TANGGO or
TANG-GO
tang go TANG go
U Uniform ˈjuːnifɔːm  or
ˈuːnifɔrm
[ˈjunɪ̈fɔ˞m],
[ˈunɪ̈fɔ˞m]
/ˈjuːnfɔːrm/ EW-nee-form or
/ˈnfɔːrm/ OO-nee-form
YOU NEE FORM or OO NEE FORM YOU NEE FORM or
OO NEE FORM
YOU NEE FORM or
OO NEE FORM
YOUNEE FORM or
YOU-NEE-FORM or
OO-NEE-FORM
you ni form,
ou ni form
YOU nee form
V Victor ˈviktɑ [ˈvɪktəɹ] /ˈvɪktɑː/ VIK-tah VIK TAH VIK TAH VIK TAH VIKTAH or
VIK-TAR
vik tar VIK ter
W Whiskey ˈwiski [ˈwɪski] /ˈwɪsk/ WIS-kee WISS KEY WISS KEY WISS KEY WISSKEY or
WISS-KEY
ouiss ki WISS key
X X-ray
or Xray
ˈeksˈrei [ˈɛksɹeɪ] /ˈɛksr/ EKS-ray or
/ˌɛksˈr/ EKS-RAY
ECKS RAY ECKS RAY ECKS RAY ECKSRAY [sic] or
ECKS-RAY
èkss EKS ray
Y Yankee ˈjænki [ˈjæŋki] /ˈjæŋk/ YANG-kee YANG KEY YANG KEY YANG KEY YANGKEY [sic] or
YANG-KEY
yang ki YANG kee
Z Zulu ˈzuːluː [ˈzulu] /ˈzl/ ZOO-loo ZOO LOO ZOO LOO ZOO LOO ZOOLOO or
ZOO-LOO
zou lou ZOO luu
0 Zero /ˈzr/ ZEE-roh
/ˌnɑːˌdɑːˌzˈr/ NAH-DAH-ZAY-ROH
ZE-RO NAH-DAH-ZAY-ROH NADAZERO Zero zi ro ZE-RO
1 One /ˈwʌn/ WUN
/ˌˌnɑːˈwʌn/ OO-NAH-WUN
WUN OO-NAH-WUN UNAONE One ouann WUN; Won (USMC)[16]
2 Two /ˈt/ TOO
/ˌbˌsˈt/ BEE-SOH-TOO
TOO BEES-SOH-TOO BISSOTWO Two tou TOO
3 Three /ˈtr/ TREE
/ˌtˌrɑːˈtr/ TAY-RAH-TREE
TREE TAY-RAH-TREE TERRATHREE Three tri TREE
4 Four /ˈf.ər/ FOH-ər
/ˌkɑːrˌtˈf.ər/ KAR-TAY-FOH-ər
FOW-er KAR-TAY-FOWER KARTEFOUR Four fo eur FOW-ER
5 Five /ˈff/ FYF[17]
/ˌpænˌtɑːˈfv/ PAN-TAH-FYV
FIFE PAN-TAH-FIVE PANTAFIVE Five fa ïf FIFE
6 Six /ˈsɪks/ SIKS
/ˌsɔːkˌsˈsɪks/ SOK-SEE-SIKS
SIX SOK-SEE-SIX SOXISIX Six siks SIX
7 Seven /ˈsɛvɛn/ SEV-en
/ˌsˌtˈsɛvɛn/ SAY-TAY-SEV-en
SEV-en SAY-TAY-SEVEN SETTESEVEN Seven sèv n SEV-EN
8 Eight /ˈt/ AYT
/ˌɔːkˌtˈt/ OK-TOH-AYT
AIT OK-TOH-AIT OKTOEIGHT Eight eït AIT
9 Nine /ˈnnər/ NY-nər[18]
/ˌnɔːvˌˈnnər/ NOV-AY-NY-nər
NIN-er NO-VAY-NINER NOVENINE Niner naï neu NIN-ER
. (decimal point) Decimal point /ˌdˌsˈmæl/ DAY-SEE-MAL DAY-SEE-MAL POINT si mal DAY-SEE-MAL (ITU)
100 Hundred /ˈhʌndrɛd/ HUN-dred HUN-dred hun-dred
1000 Thousand /ˌtˈsænd/ TOW-ZEND[19] TOU-SAND taou zend TOU-SAND
- (hyphen) Dash /ˈdæʃ/ DASH imo faa
. (full stop) Period /ˈstɒp/ STOP STOP (ITU)

HistoryEdit

Prior to World War I and the development and widespread adoption of two-way radio that supported voice, telephone spelling alphabets were developed to improve communication on low-quality and long-distance telephone circuits.

The first non-military internationally recognized spelling alphabet was adopted by the CCIR (predecessor of the ITU) during 1927. The experience gained with that alphabet resulted in several changes being made during 1932 by the ITU. The resulting alphabet was adopted by the International Commission for Air Navigation, the predecessor of the ICAO, and was used for civil aviation until World War II.[11]. It continued to be used by the IMO until 1965.

Throughout World War II, many nations used their own versions of a spelling alphabet. The U.S. adopted the Joint Army/Navy radiotelephony alphabet during 1941 to standardize systems among all branches of its armed forces. The U.S. alphabet became known as Able Baker after the words for A and B. The Royal Air Force adopted one similar to the United States one during World War II as well. Other British forces adopted the RAF radio alphabet, which is similar to the phonetic alphabet used by the Royal Navy during World War I. At least two of the terms are sometimes still used by UK civilians to spell words over the phone, namely F for Freddie and S for Sugar.

To enable the U.S., UK, and Australian armed forces to communicate during joint operations, in 1943 the CCB (Combined Communications Board; the combination of US and UK upper military commands) modified the U.S. military's Joint Army/Navy alphabet for use by all three nations, with the result being called the US-UK spelling alphabet. It was defined in one or more of CCBP-1: Combined Amphibious Communications Instructions, CCBP3: Combined Radiotelephone (R/T) Procedure, and CCBP-7: Combined Communication Instructions. The CCB alphabet itself was based on the U.S. Joint Army/Navy spelling alphabet. The CCBP (Combined Communications Board Publications) documents contain material formerly published in U.S. Army Field Manuals in the 24-series. Several of these documents had revisions, and were renamed. For instance, CCBP3-2 was the second edition of CCBP3.

During World War II, the U.S. military conducted significant research into spelling alphabets. Major F. D. Handy, directorate of Communications in the Army Air Force (and a member of the working committee of the Combined Communications Board), enlisted the help of Harvard University's Psycho-Acoustic Laboratory, asking them to determine the most successful word for each letter when using "military interphones in the intense noise encountered in modern warfare.". He included lists from the USA, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, British Army, AT&T, Western Union, RCA Communications, and that of the International Telecommunications Convention. According to a report on the subject,

"The results showed that many of the words in the military lists had a low level of intelligibility, but that most of the deficiencies could be remedied by the judicious selection of words from the commercial codes and those tested by the laboratory. In a few instances where none of the 250 words could be regarded as especially satisfactory, it was believed possible to discover suitable replacements. Other words were tested and the most intelligible ones were compared with the more desirable lists. A final NDRC list was assembled and recommended to the CCB."[20]

After World War II, with many aircraft and ground personnel from the allied armed forces, "Able Baker" was officially adopted for use in international aviation. During the 1946 Second Session of the ICAO Communications Division, the organization adopted the so-called "Able Baker" alphabet[21] that was the 1943 US-UK spelling alphabet. But many sounds were unique to English, so an alternative "Ana Brazil" alphabet was used in Latin America. But the International Air Transport Association (IATA), recognizing the need for a single universal alphabet, presented a draft alphabet to the ICAO during 1947 that had sounds common to English, French, Spanish and Portuguese.

From 1948–1949, Jean-Paul Vinay, a professor of linguistics at the Université de Montréal worked closely with the ICAO to research and develop a new spelling alphabet.[22][23] ICAO's directions to him were that "To be considered, a word must:

  1. Be a live word in each of the three working languages.
  2. Be easily pronounced and recognized by airman of all languages.
  3. Have good radio transmission and readability characteristics.
  4. Have a similar spelling in at least English, French, and Spanish, and the initial letter must be the letter the word identifies.
  5. Be free from any association with objectionable meanings."[20]

After further study and modification by each approving body, the revised alphabet was adopted on 1 November 1951, to become effective on 1 April 1952 for civil aviation (but it may not have been adopted by any military).[11]

Problems were soon found with this list. Some users believed that they were so severe that they reverted to the old "Able Baker" alphabet. Confusion among words like Delta,and Extra, and between Nectar and Victor, or the unintelligibility of other words during poor receiving conditions were the main problems. By later in 1952, ICAO decided to revisit the alphabet and their research. To identify the deficiencies of the new alphabet, testing was conducted among speakers from 31 nations, principally by the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States. In the United States, the research was conducted by the USAF-directed Operational Applications Laboratory (AFCRC, ARDC), to monitor a project with the Research Foundation of The Ohio State University. Among the more interesting of the research findings was that "higher noise levels do not create confusion, but do intensify those confusions already inherent between the words in question".[20]

By early 1956 the ICAO was nearly complete with this research, and published the new official phonetic alphabet in order to account for discrepancies that might arise in communications as a result of multiple alphabet naming systems coexisting in different places and organizations. NATO was in the process of adopting the ICAO spelling alphabet, and apparently felt enough urgency that it adopted the proposed new alphabet with changes based on NATO's own research, to become effective on January 1st, 1956,[24] but quickly issued a new directive on March 1st, 1956[25] adopting the now official ICAO spelling alphabet, which had changed by one word (November) from NATO's earlier request to ICAO to modify a few words based on U.S. Air Force research.

After all of the above study, only the five words representing the letters C, M, N, U, and X were replaced. The ICAO sent a recording of the new Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet to all member states in November 1955.[12][4] The final version given in the table above was implemented by the ICAO on 1 March 1956,[11] and the ITU adopted it no later than 1959 when they mandated its usage via their official publication, Radio Regulations.[26] Because the ITU governs all international radio communications, it was also adopted by most radio operators, whether military, civilian, or Amateur. It was finally adopted by the IMO in 1965. During 1947 the ITU adopted the compound number words (Nadazero, Unaone, etc.), later adopted by the IMO during 1965.[citation needed]

In the official[27] version of the alphabet, the non-English spellings Alfa and Juliett are used. Alfa is spelled with an f as it is in most European languages because the English and French spelling alpha would not be pronounced properly by native speakers of some other languages – who may not know that ph should be pronounced as fJuliett is spelled with a tt for French speakers, because they may otherwise treat a single final t as silent. In some English versions of the alphabet, one or both of these may have their standard English spelling.[6]

Defined by various international conventions on radio, including:

  • Universal Electrical Communications Union, Washington, D.C., December 1920[28]
  • International Radiotelegraph Convention, Washington, 1927 (which created the CCIR)[29]
  • General Radiocommunication and Additional Regulations (Madrid, 1932)[30]
  • Instructions for the International Telephone Service, 1932 (ITU-T E.141; withdrawn in 1993)
  • General Radiocommunication Regulations and Additional Radiocommunication Regulations (Cairo, 1938)[31]
  • Radio Regulations and Additional Radio Regulations (Atlantic City, 1947),[32] where "it was decided that the International Civil Aviation Organization and other international aeronautical organizations would assume the responsibility for procedures and regulations related to aeronautical communication. However, ITU would continue to maintain general procedures regarding distress signals."
  • 1959 Administrative Radio Conference (Geneva, 1959)[33]
  • International Telecommunications Union, Radio
  • Final Acts of WARC-79 (Geneva, 1979).[34] Here the alphabet was formally named "Phonetic Alphabet and Figure Code".
  • International Code of Signals for Visual, Sound, and Radio Communications, United States Edition, 1969 (Revised 2003)[35]
Timeline in development of the ICAO/ITU-R radiotelephony spelling alphabet
Letter 1920 UECU[28] 1927 (Washington, D.C.) International Radiotelegraph Convention (CCIR)[36] 1932 General Radiocommunication and Additional Regulations (CCIR/ICAN)[37][38] 1938 (Cairo) International Radiocommunication Conference code words[39] 1947 (Atlantic City) International Radio Conference[40] 1946 ICAO Second Session of the Communications Division (same as Joint Army/Navy)[20] 1947 ICAO (same as 1943 US-UK)[41][38] 1947 ICAO alphabet (adopted exactly from ARRL[42] 1947 ICAO Latin America/Caribbean[20] 1947 IATA proposal to ICAO[20] 1949 ICAO code words[20] 1951 ICAO code words[22] 1956 ICAO final code words[43] 1959 (Geneva) Administrative Radio Conference code words[44] 1959 respelling[44] 2008–Present ICAO code words[43] 2008–Present ICAO respelling[43]
A Argentine Amsterdam Amsterdam Amsterdam Amsterdam Able Able ADAM ANA ALPHA Alfa Alfa Alfa Alfa AL FAH Alfa AL FAH
B Brussels Baltimore Baltimore Baltimore Baltimore Baker Baker BAKER BRAZIL BETA Beta Bravo Bravo Bravo BRAH VOH Bravo BRAH VOH
C Canada Canada Casablanca Casablanca Casablanca Charlie Charlie CHARLIE COCO CHARLIE Coca Coca Charlie Charlie CHAR LEE or SHAR LEE Charlie CHAR LEE or SHAR LEE
D Damascus Denmark Danemark Danemark Danemark Dog Dog DAVID DADO DELTA Delta Delta Delta Delta DELL TAH Delta DELL TAH
E Ecuador Eddystone Edison Edison Edison Easy Easy EDWARD ELSA EDWARD Echo Echo Echo Echo ECK OH Echo ECK OH
F France Francisco Florida Florida Florida Fox Fox FREDDIE FIESTA FOX Foxtrot Foxtrot Foxtrot Foxtrot FOKS TROT Foxtrot FOKS TROT
G Greece Gibraltar Gallipoli Gallipoli Gallipoli George George GEORGE GATO GRAMMA Golf Gold Golf Golf GOLF Golf GOLF
H Hanover Hanover Havana Havana Havana How How HARRY HOMBRE HAVANA Hotel Hotel Hotel Hotel HOH TELL Hotel HOH TELL
I Italy Italy Italia Italia Italia Item Item IDA INDIA ITALY India India India India IN DEE AH India IN DEE AH
J Japan Jerusalem Jérusalem Jérusalem Jerusalem Jig Jig JOHN JULIO JUPITER Julietta Juliett Juliett Juliett JEW LEE ETT Juliett JEW LEE ETT
K Khartoum Kimberley Kilogramme Kilogramme Kilogramme King King KING KILO KILO Kilo Kilo Kilo Kilo KEY LOH Kilo KEY LOH
L Lima Liverpool Liverpool Liverpool Liverpool Love Love LEWIS LUIS LITER Lima Lima Lima Lima LEE MAH Lima LEE MAH
M Madrid Madagascar Madagascar Madagascar Madagascar Mike Mike MARY MAMA MAESTRO Metro Metro Mike Mike MIKE Mike MIKE
N Nancy Neufchatel New York New-York New York Nan (later Nickel) Nan NANCY NORMA NORMA Nectar Nectar November November NO VEM BER November NO VEM BER
O Ostend Ontario Oslo Oslo Oslo Oboe Oboe OTTO OPERA OPERA Oscar Oscar Oscar Oscar OSS CAH Oscar OSS CAH
P Paris Portugal Paris Paris Paris Peter Peter PETER PERU PERU Polka Papa Papa Papa PAH PAH Papa PAH PAH
Q Quebec Quebec Québec Québec Quebec Queen Queen QUEEN QUEBEC QUEBEC Quebec Quebec Quebec Quebec KEH BECK Quebec KEH BECK
R Rome Rivoli Roma Roma Roma Roger Roger ROBERT ROSA ROGER Romeo Romeo Romeo Romeo ROW ME OH Romeo ROW ME OH
S Sardinia Santiago Santiago Santiago Santiago Sail/Sugar Sugar SUSAN SARA SANTA Sierra Sierra Sierra Sierra SEE AIR RAH Sierra SEE AIR RAH
T Tokio Tokio Tripoli Tripoli Tripoli Tare Tare THOMAS TOMAS THOMAS Tango Tango Tango Tango TANG GO Tango TANG OH
U Uruguay Uruguay Upsala Upsala Upsala Uncle Uncle UNION URUGUAY URSULA Union Union Uniform Uniform YOU NEE FORM or
OO NEE FORM
Uniform YOU NEE FORM or OO NEE FORM
V Victoria Victoria Valencia Valencia Valencia Victor Victor VICTOR VICTOR VICTOR Victor Victor Victor Victor VIK TAH Victor VIK TAH
W Washington Washington Washington Washington Washington William William WILLIAM WHISKEY WHISKEY Whiskey Whiskey Whiskey Whiskey WISS KEY Whiskey WISS KEY
X Xaintrie Xantippe Xanthippe Xanthippe Xanthippe X-ray X-Ray X-RAY XQUIS X-RAY Zebra eXtra X-ray X-ray ECKS RAY X-ray ECKS RAY
Y Yokohama Yokohama Yokohama Yokohama Yokohama Yoke Yoke YOUNG YOLANDA YORK Yankey Yankee Yankee Yankee YANG KEY Yankee YANG KEY
Z Zanzibar Zululand Zürich Zurich Zurich Zebra Zebra ZEBRA ZETA ? Zebra Zulu Zulu Zulu ZOO LOO Zulu ZOO LOO
0 Zero Zero[Note 1] Zero Zero Zero (proposal A: ZE-RO; proposal B: ZERO) Zero ZE-RO
1 One One[Note 1] One Wun One[Note 1] (proposal A: WUN; proposal B: WUN) Wun WUN
2 Two Two[Note 1] Two Too Two[Note 1] (proposal A: TOO; proposal B: BIS) Too TOO
3 Three Three[Note 1] Three Thuh-ree Three[Note 1] (proposal A: TREE; proposal B: TER) Tree TREE
4 Four Four[Note 1] Four Fo-wer Four[Note 1] (proposal A: FOW-ER; proposal B: QUARTO) Fower FOW-er
5 Five Five[Note 1] Five Fi-yiv Five[Note 1] (proposal A: FIFE; proposal B: PENTA) Fife FIFE
6 Six Six[Note 1] Six Six Six[Note 1] (proposal A: SIX; proposal B: SAXO) Six SIX
7 Seven Seven[Note 1] Seven Seven Seven[Note 1] (proposal A: SEV-EN; proposal B: SETTE) Seven SEV-en
8 Eight Eight[Note 1] Eight Ate Eight[Note 1] (proposal A: AIT; proposal B: OCTO) Eight AIT
9 Nine Nine[Note 1] Nine Niner Nine[Note 1] (proposal A: NIN-ER; proposal B: NONA) Niner NIN-er
. Point (proposal A: DAY-SEE-MAL; proposal B: DECIMAL) Decimal DAY-SEE-MAL
Hundred Hundred HUN-dred
Thousand (Proposal A: TOUS-AND) Thousand TOU-SAND
, Comma Comma Comma Comma
/ Fraction bar Fraction bar Fraction bar Fraction bar
Break signal Break signal Break signal
. Full stop Full stop (period) Full stop (period) Full stop (period)

For the 1938 and 1947 phonetics, each transmission of figures is preceded and followed by the words "as a number" spoken twice.

The ITU adopted the International Maritime Organization's phonetic spelling alphabet in 1959,[45] and in 1969 specified that it be "for application in the maritime mobile service only".[46]

Pronunciation was not defined prior to 1959. For the 1959–Present phonetics, the underlined syllable of each letter word should be emphasized, and each syllable of the code words for the figures (1969–Present) should be equally emphasized.

International aviationEdit

The ICAO Radiotelephony Alphabet is used by the International Civil Aviation Organization for international aircraft communications.[47][48]

Letter 1932 General Radiocommunication and Additional Regulations (CCIR/ICAN)[37][38] 1946 ICAO Second Session of the Communications Division (same as Joint Army/Navy)[20] 1947 ICAO (same as 1943 US-UK)[41][38] 1947 ICAO alphabet (adopted exactly from ARRL[42] 1947 ICAO Latin America/Caribbean[20] 1947 IATA proposal to ICAO[20] 1949 ICAO code words[20] 1951 ICAO code words[22] 1956–Present ICAO code words[43]
A Amsterdam Able Able ADAM ANA ALPHA Alfa Alfa Alfa
B Baltimore Baker Baker BAKER BRAZIL BETA Beta Bravo Bravo
C Casablanca Charlie Charlie CHARLIE COCO CHARLIE Coca Coca Charlie
D Danemark Dog Dog DAVID DADO DELTA Delta Delta Delta
E Edison Easy Easy EDWARD ELSA EDWARD Echo Echo Echo
F Florida Fox Fox FREDDIE FIESTA FOX Foxtrot Foxtrot Foxtrot
G Gallipoli George George GEORGE GATO GRAMMA Golf Gold Golf
H Havana How How HARRY HOMBRE HAVANA Hotel Hotel Hotel
I Italia Item Item IDA INDIA ITALY India India India
J Jérusalem Jig Jig JOHN JULIO JUPITER Julietta Juliett Juliett
K Kilogramme King King KING KILO KILO Kilo Kilo Kilo
L Liverpool Love Love LEWIS LUIS LITER Lima Lima Lima
M Madagascar Mike Mike MARY MAMA MAESTRO Metro Metro Mike
N New York Nan (later Nickel) Nan NANCY NORMA NORMA Nectar Nectar November
O Oslo Oboe Oboe OTTO OPERA OPERA Oscar Oscar Oscar
P Paris Peter Peter PETER PERU PERU Polka Papa Papa
Q Québec Queen Queen QUEEN QUEBEC QUEBEC Quebec Quebec Quebec
R Roma Roger Roger ROBERT ROSA ROGER Romeo Romeo Romeo
S Santiago Sail/Sugar Sugar SUSAN SARA SANTA Sierra Sierra Sierra
T Tripoli Tare Tare THOMAS TOMAS THOMAS Tango Tango Tango
U Upsala Uncle Uncle UNION URUGUAY URSULA Union Union Uniform
V Valencia Victor Victor VICTOR VICTOR VICTOR Victor Victor Victor
W Washington William William WILLIAM WHISKEY WHISKEY Whiskey Whiskey Whisky
X Xanthippe X-ray X-Ray X-RAY XQUIS X-RAY Zebra eXtra X-ray
Y Yokohama Yoke Yoke YOUNG YOLANDA YORK Yankey Yankee Yankee
Z Zürich Zebra Zebra ZEBRA ZETA ? Zebra Zulu Zulu
0 Zero Zero Zero
1 One Wun One
2 Two Too Two
3 Three Thuh-ree Three
4 Four Fo-wer Four
5 Five Fi-yiv Five
6 Six Six Six
7 Seven Seven Seven
8 Eight Ate Eight
9 Nine Niner Niner
. Decimal
100 Hundred
1000 Thousand

International maritime mobile serviceEdit

The ITU-R Radiotelephony Alphabet is used by the International Maritime Organization for international marine communications.

Letter 1932–1965 IMO code words[citation needed] 1965–Present (WRC-03) IMO code words[49] 1967 WARC code words[50] 1967 WARC respelling[50] 2007–Present ITU-R respelling
A Amsterdam Alfa Alfa AL FAH AL FAH
B Baltimore Bravo Bravo BRAH VOH BRAH VOH
C Casablanca Charlie Charlie CHAR LEE or SHAR LEE CHAR LEE or SHAR LEE
D Danemark Delta Delta DELL TAH DELL TAH
E Edison Echo Echo ECK OH ECK OH
F Florida Foxtrot Foxtrot FOKS TROT FOKS TROT
G Gallipoli Golf Golf GOLF GOLF
H Havana Hotel Hotel HOH TELL HOH TELL
I Italia India India IN DEE AH IN DEE AH
J Jérusalem Juliett Juliett JEW LEE ETT JEW LEE ETT
K Kilogramme Kilo Kilo KEY LOH KEY LOH
L Liverpool Lima Lima LEE MAH LEE MAH
M Madagascar Mike Mike MIKE MIKE
N New-York November November NO VEM BER NO VEM BER
O Oslo Oscar Oscar OSS CAH OSS CAH
P Paris Papa Papa PAH PAH PAH PAH
Q Québec Quebec Quebec KEH BECK KEH BECK
R Roma Romeo Romeo ROW ME OH ROW ME OH
S Santiago Sierra Sierra SEE AIR RAH SEE AIR RAH
T Tripoli Tango Tango TANG GO TANG GO
U Upsala Uniform Uniform YOU NEE FORM or
OO NEE FORM
YOU NEE FORM or
OO NEE FORM
V Valencia Victor Victor VIK TAH VIK TAH
W Washington Whisky Whisky WISS KEY WISS KEY
X Xanthippe X-ray X-ray ECKS RAY ECKS RAY
Y Yokohama Yankee Yankee YANG KEY YANG KEY
Z Zurich Zulu Zulu ZOO LOO ZOO LOO
0 Zero ZEERO NADAZERO NAH-DAH-ZAY-ROH NAH-DAH-ZAY-ROH
1 One WUN UNAONE OO-NAH-WUN OO-NAH-WUN
2 Two TOO BISSOTWO BEES-SOH-TOO BEES-SOH-TOO
3 Three TREE TERRATHREE TAY-RAH-TREE TAY-RAH-TREE
4 Four FOWER KARTEFOUR KAR-TAY-FOWER KAR-TAY-FOWER
5 Five FIFE PANTAFIVE PAN-TAH-FIVE PAN-TAH-FIVE
6 Six SIX SOXISIX SOK-SEE-SIX SOK-SEE-SIX
7 Seven SEVEN SETTESEVEN SAY-TAY-SEVEN SAY-TAY-SEVEN
8 Eight AIT OKTOEIGHT OK-TOH-AIT OK-TOH-AIT
9 Nine NINER NOVENINE NO-VAY-NINER NO-VAY-NINER
. DECIMAL DAY-SEE-MAL DAY-SEE-MAL
. STOP STOP STOP
1000 TOUSAND

VariantsEdit

AviationEdit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Each transmission of figures is preceeded and followed by "as a number" spoken twice.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 20 March 2015. Retrieved 27 April 2015. 
  2. ^ Spelling out words Archived 17 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 20 July 2015
  3. ^ "Where does the term "Bravo Zulu" originate?". 6 March 2005. Archived from the original on 6 March 2005. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c Pamphlet included in the 1955 ICAO phonograph recording, viewable at The Postal History of ICAO, Annex 10 – Aeronautical Telecommunications Archived 1 December 2012 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b c d e International Civil Aviation Organization, Aeronautical Telecommunications: Annex 10 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, Volume II (Fifth edition, 1995), Chapter 5, 38–40.
  6. ^ a b "Alliance for Telecommunications Industry Solutions ATIS-0100523.2011, ATIS Telecom Glossary 2011". Atis.org. Archived from the original on 24 June 2009. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  7. ^ a b "ITU Phonetic Alphabet and Figure Code" (PDF). ITU-R. Retrieved 31 October 2017. 
  8. ^ a b "ICAO Phonetics in the FAA ATC Manual, §2-4-16". Federal Aviation Administration. 11 February 2010. Archived from the original on 12 October 2009. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "Phonetic alphabet in the ''FAA Aeronautical Information Manual'', §4-2-7". Faa.gov. Archived from the original on 22 August 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  10. ^ "ICAO phonetic alphabet by Canada". Tc.gc.ca. 20 May 2010. Archived from the original on 16 May 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  11. ^ a b c d L.J. Rose, "Aviation's ABC: The development of the ICAO spelling alphabet", ICAO Bulletin 11/2 (1956) 12–14.
  12. ^ a b The audio recording, available on airwaysmuseum.com Archived 30 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine. does not follow the details of the ICAO transcription. Apart from the dual pronunciations of Charlie and Uniform, the speaker uses the normal English pronunciations of the code words.
  13. ^ Service de l'Information Aéronautique, Radiotéléphonie Archived 2 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine., 2nd edition, 2006
  14. ^ "Military phonetic alphabet by US Army". Army.com. 14 March 2014. Archived from the original on 2 August 2014. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  15. ^ The ITU and ICAO (romanized) transcribe this as /nɔːˈvɛmbər/ naw-VEM-bər, presumably an error.
  16. ^ "RP 0506 – Field Communication" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 11 August 2014. 
  17. ^ The pronunciation "fife" is required. Failure to use this pronunciation has resulted in '5' being misheard as '9'. (McMillan, 1998, "Miscommunications in Air Traffic Control Archived 15 October 2009 at the Wayback Machine.")
  18. ^ Transcribed as if it were /ˈnɪnər/ NIN-ər, but this pronunciation is never used.
  19. ^ Transcribed as if it rhymed with sand, but this pronunciation is never used.
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "The Evolution and Rationale of the ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization) Word-Spelling Alphabet, July 1959" (PDF). Retrieved November 1, 2017. 
  21. ^ "The Postal History of ICAO Annex 10 - Aeronauticatl Telecommunications". 
  22. ^ a b c "Alpha, Bravo, Charlie: how was Nato's phonetic alphabet chosen?". 
  23. ^ "The postal History of the ICAO". ICAO. Archived from the original on 28 July 2016. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  24. ^ "North Atlantic Military Committee SGM-217-55 memorandum" (PDF). 
  25. ^ "North Atlantic Military Committee SGM-156-56 memorandum" (PDF). 
  26. ^ International Telecommunication Union, "Appendix 16: Phonetic Alphabet and Figure Code", Radio Regulations (Geneva, 1959) 430–431.
  27. ^ "Alphabet – Radiotelephony". ICAO. Archived from the original on 17 July 2012. Retrieved 29 August 2012. 
  28. ^ a b "Draft of Convention and Regulations, Washington, D.C., December, 1920". 
  29. ^ "International Radiotelegraph Convention of Washington, 1927". Retrieved 2017-10-30. 
  30. ^ "General Radiocommunication and Additional Regulations (Madrid, 1932)". Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  31. ^ "General Radiocommunication Regulations and Additional Radiocommunication Regulations (Cairo, 1938)". Retrieved 2017-10-30. 
  32. ^ "Radio Regulations and Additional Radio Regulations (Atlantic City, 1947)". Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  33. ^ "Administrative Radio Conference (Geneva, 1959)" (PDF). Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  34. ^ "Final Acts of WARC-79 (Geneva, 1979)" (PDF). Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  35. ^ International Code of Signals for Visual, Sound, and Radio Communications, United States Edition, 1969 (Revised 2003) (PDF), 1969 
  36. ^ "Radiotelegraph Convention of Washington, 1927" (PDF). 
  37. ^ a b "(Don't Get) Lost in Translation" (PDF). 
  38. ^ a b c d Alcorn, John. "Radiotelegraph and Radiotelephone Codes, Prowords And Abbreviations" (PDF). 
  39. ^ "General Radiocommunication Regulations (Revision of Cairo, 1938; Additional Radiocommunication regulations (revision of Cairo, 1938); Additional Protocol" (PDF). 
  40. ^ "Radio Regulations Annexed to the International Telecommunication Convention (Atlantic City, 1947)" (PDF). 
  41. ^ a b "FM 24-12,:Army Extract of Combined Operating Signals (CCBP 2-2)" (PDF). 
  42. ^ a b "Item 48 in the Friedman Collection: Letter from Everett Conder to William F. Friedman, February 11, 1952" (PDF). 
  43. ^ a b c d "Annex 10 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation: Aeronauticatl Telecommunications; Volume II Communication Procedures including those with PANS status" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-11-01. 
  44. ^ a b "Radio Regulations and Additional Radio Regulations (Geneva, 1959)" (PDF). 
  45. ^ "Documents of the World Administrative Radio Conference to deal with matters relating to the maritime mobile service (WARC Mar) (Geneva, 1967)" (PDF). Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  46. ^ "Report on the Activities of The International Telecommunication Union in 1967" (PDF). Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  47. ^ "Alphabet - Radiotelephony". Retrieved 27 April 2015. 
  48. ^ "Annex 10 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation, Aeronautical Telecommunications, Volume II Communication Procedures including those with PANS Status" (PDF). Retrieved 27 April 2015. 
  49. ^ "IMO Standard Marine Communication Phrases (SMCP)" (PDF). Retrieved 2017-11-01. 
  50. ^ a b "Final Acts of the World Administrative Radio Conference to Deal with Matters Relating to the Maritime Mobile Service" (PDF). 
  51. ^ Civil Aviation Authority, "Aircraft Call Sign Confusion Evaluation Safety Study" Archived 24 December 2004 at the Wayback Machine., April 2000

External linksEdit