Posted on

Engineering Tip: Use the Internationally Recognized Phonetic Alphabet

During the course of your engineering duties, how many times have you tried to communicate a lengthy part number over the phone, only to experience frustration?

For example, let’s say you are on the phone with a vendor and you want to buy a part with the number NM5924SFCZ. After you tell the vendor the part number, she looks for it on her computer but can’t find it.

You tell her that you just bought one a few weeks ago.

She says, “You want NN9924FFCC, right?”

You say, “No, the part number is NM5924SFCZ.”

She says, “NM5924SSZZ?”

You have been there, I am sure.

The tip is to use the Phonetic Alphabet. This is the way pilots communicate on the radio to each other and to flight controllers.

If you were to have said the part number is “novemeber mike fife niner too fo-wer sierra foxtrot charlie zulu”, then your vendor could have clearly understood what you wanted.

Besides, to us civilians, it sounds really cool . . .

Here is the Internationally Recognized Phonetic Alphabet:

Alpha
Bravo
Charlie
Delta
Echo
Foxtrot
Golf
Hotel
India
Juliet
Kilo
Lima
Mike
November
Oscar
Papa
Quebec
Romeo
Sierra
Tango
Uniform
Victor
Whiskey
X-ray
Yankee
Zulu

1 – wun
2 – too
3 – tree
4 – fow-er
5 – fife
6 – six
7 – sev-en
8 – ait
9 – nin-er
0 – zee-ro

FAA phonetic alphabet_

 

The field of engineering is filled with part numbers, abbreviations and acronyms. Do yourself a favor and learn the phonetic alphabet.