French air rules state:
"Air traffic services messages can be transmitted in French or in English UNLESS "FR only" appears on the aerodrome charts; when it does ONLY French must be used. Note: the abbreviation "FR only" is systematically indicated when the aerodrome is open to IFR traffic when there is no traffic services organism."
Apart from the international emergency frequency, there are several frequencies with a special but general use :
5/3/2003 ICAO new rules relative to foreign langage capacities (164 amendment) induce no changes for private pilots. However, you can consider evaluating you level in French if you want to come here and use French only airfields. There are 6 levels according to the ICAO, of which the top 3 enable a pilot to use a foreign airspace where this langage only is spoken.
If you don't speak French, there is no way you can learn it, even aeronautical French, on this web page. Knowing a word doesn't mean that you'll be able to understand it when it is yelled on the radio, or that you'll even be able to express yourself so that other pilots will be able to understand what you say. Don't cheat with yourself, with your safety and with other's safety. If you don't speak French, don't use airfields where radio is mandatory and radio in French only is allowed. Unfortunately, this represents most of our airfields. See the Airportspagefor more details.
If you speak French fluently, it is up to you to decide whether or not you feel confident enough to venture into r/t in French. Again, don't cheat with yourself, and in case you doubt, don't do it. To test your ability, 3 ways in this page. You just need a Real Player for that. The player is downloadable for free, clicking here :
1) You can hear me saying the French words listed below. To listen to my reading of the French side of the list below click here. I read one word after the other, with no pause, and fairly fast. Of course, it has no meaning.
2) An other test : listen to this short message,keeping in mind that it was recorded without any noise, engine... You can expect such a message from an aircraft heading to an uncontrolled airfield. Compare what you understood with what I really say, which you can discover here. My speaking in this case is not especially fast and you should expect something similar on the radio.
If you decide that you're good enough to speak and understand French on the radio, you will find here a little aeronautical French to help you.
one : unité
two : deux
three : trois
five : cinq
seven : sept
eight : huit
ought : zéro
We use the same alphabet as everywhere, (Alpha, Bravo...) with sometimesthe french words instead of the English ones, when they're close : (Novembreinstead of November). To hear me saying the whole "French"alphabet, click on the link.
downwind leg : branche vent arrière
base leg :base
final : finale
short final : courte finale
take off : décollage
landing : atterrissage
go around : remise de gaz
taxiing : je roule
lining up : je m'aligne
holding point : pointd'attente
thresold : seuil de piste
North : Nord
East : Est
West : Ouest
straight in approach : approche directe
direct approach:approche semi directe
overhead : verticale
abeam (North) : travers (nord)
runway vacated : piste dégagée.
call sign : indicatif d'appel
say again : répétez
report (holding point) : rappelez (au point d'arrêt)
sqawk : transpondeur (the device) or : affichez le code transpondeur
sqawk code : code transpondeur
go ahead : poursuivez
I request (taxiing instructions) : je demande (des instructionspour le roulage)
speak more slowly : parlez plus lentement
You can also try this page if you did not find what you wanted here.
For those who speak French and want to improve their phraseology, the SIA has an official guide of French phraseology available online.
If you want to improve your aeronautical French, an aeronautical French-English/English-French dictionnary might also be useful. There are several dictionnaries specialized in aeronautical language. I have seen only two of them:
If you compare what these dictionnaries offer, I'd say that the Dictionnaire aéronautique is more technically oriented. Anglais pour voler has less of this technical stuff but more about phraseology.
On this page you'll be able to order dictionnaries and other aeronautical French