IFR Clearance Read-back


CRAFT is a commonly used acronym for IFR clearances. CRAFT stands for: 
Clearance Limit, Route, Altitude, Departure Frequency, Transponder, Special Instructions

Clearance Limit - This is almost always the destination airport.
Route of Flight - This is the route of flight you will fly. It must be
checked as described below.
Altitude - This is composed of an initial and final climb altitudes as
described below.
Departure Freqency - This is the frequency of the radar facility handling
Transponder - This is transponder beacon code assigned for your flight.
Special Instructions


"Air Canada 301 Heavy, Los Angeles Clearance Delivery. Cleared to the
Calgary International Airport via the Gorman Four Departure, Shafter
Transition, then as filed. Maintain 5000, Expect Flight Level Three Four
Zero - five minutes after departure. Departure Frequency 124.30, Squawk
7201. Good Morning."

Components of the Clearance
"Air Canada 301 Heavy" - That's you. Make sure you always listen for your

"Los Angeles Clearance Delivery" - That's the controller identifying
themselves. They will usually only identify themselves the first time they
speak to you.

"Cleared to the Calgary International Airport" - This is your Clearance
Limit. They have cleared you all the way to the Calgary Airport.

"via the Gorman Four Departure, Shafter Transition, then as filed" - This is
your Route of Flight. You are expected to fly via the GMN4 departure, EHF
Transition as depicted on the SID chart. Once you reach EHF you are expected
to continue your flightplan from that point on, which would be LLC REO J537

"Maintain 5000, Expect Flight Level Three Four Zero - five minutes after
departure" - This is your Altitude Clearance. It is broken into a few
different portions:

"Maintain 5000" - This is your initial climb altitude. You are not at this
point cleared any higher than 5000 feet. You should not climb above 5000
feet under any circumstances except if your safety is in jeopardy, or for
reasons mentioned below. Controllers generally rip their hair out when
aircraft "bust" their altitude clearance.

"Expect Flight Level Three Four Zero - five minutes after departure" - This
is what you can expect as your cruise altitude. They tell you to expect that
altitude within 5 minutes because in the event that you lose all radio
communications. You can then climb to FL340 after 5 minutes. Note that this
is ONLY if you lose radio communications.

"Departure Frequency 124.30" - This is your Departure Frequency. This is the
controller you are expected to contact once you are airborne. In most cases
the Tower controller will tell you when to contact that controller. If you
lose communications with the tower once you are in the air - this is the
controller you should contact.

"Squawk 7201" - Transponder. This is the code you should type into your
Transponder. It is a unique code - specially reserved for YOU. You should
type it into your transponder as soon as possible, without it - the
controllers may have trouble radar identifying you.

Responding to the Clearance
Once the Controller has issued the IFR clearance to you, they expect you to
read back the clearance in order to acknowledge that you have received it,
understand it, and accept it. You should go ahead with your readback
immediately following the controller's transmission (unless told otherwise)
- this is why you had that pencil ready to write it down. Your readback
might sound like this:

"Cleared to Calgary via the GMN4 departure, EHF transition, then as filed.
Initial altitude 5000, expecting 340 in 5, departure on 124.3, squawk 7201,
Air Canada 301 Heavy"

The controller would usually tell you that your readback was correct and
pass on other relevant information. If part of your readback was not
correct, they will tell you what parts were incorrect and expect you to
readback the portion that was incorrect.

"Air Canada 301 Heavy, Readback Correct"

There are some variations to the readback. If your clearance contained no
amendments to the initial route and altitude that you filed, you can simply
readback your squawk code:

"Squawk 7201, Air Canada 301 heavy"

in this case, the controller would respond with

"Squawk readback correct"