The Word “ROGER” in Aviation

The issue of pilots to communicate with other pilots and air traffic controllers has been a very important issue since the first days of aviation in human life.

Today, these communication methods are very diverse and secure. There are many alternatives with backup systems.  As a result, hundreds of aircraft fly safely and separated in the air at the same time. However, in the early days of aviation, issue of communication was complex and difficult.

That’s why even today, pilot controller conversations contain interesting jargons and terms.

For example, pilots and Air Traffic Controllers use The word “Roger” while communicating. You may have heard this popular word often in TV series or movies.

Let’s examine the meaning and history of this word “Roger”.

ROGER – Recieved

When technology was not that advanced and standards were not yet established, a method was required to communicate with aircraft. Wireless telegraphs and Morse code were used before voice communication was established.

In this system, the use of the letter “R” to confirm that a message has been received, is accepted. “R” is signaled as “.-.” in Morse code.

In 1915 pilots began to switch to voice communication. In late 1920s, Radio voice communication became the standard for pilots. After the transition to voice commands, standards had to be set and the use of “R” instead of received was already an accepted standard.

However, simply saying “R” in voice communication could cause confusion and was not appropriate. Therefore, the word Roger, which corresponds to “R” in its phonetic alphabet, started to be used. Later in 1957, the equivalent of “R” in the phonetic alphabet (aviation alphabet) was changed to “ROMEO”. However, by that time, the use of ROGER was widespread and accepted. As a result, ROGER continued to use as Received, even if the word “R” in the alphabet changed to ROMEO.

By the way ROGER stands for Received Order Given. This phrase does not mean the agreement but just the signal that the entire message was received.

Let’s look at the phrase “ROGER WILCO”, which is also common. This expression also means Received and will comply.

You can see the latest version of the aviation alphabet used today in the figure below.

Aviation Alphabet - Roger