Back-to-basics n°1 – letters and numbers

Welcome back!

As explained in the September issue of Infopilote, « In English, please » is setting up a ten-month program to help you get ready to pass the FCL-055 VFR exam by June. Eliot’s Practice Papers will complement the magazine’s articles to provide more practice on the month’s topic, not forgetting, of course, some general English work, and having some fun in the process.

Let’s start straight away with Back-to-basics n°1, focusing on letters and numbers.



1 – SERA

For a review of the rules related to the use of letters and numbers in voice communications go to the EASA site, and scroll down the page to download the SERA document:

SERA’s Section 14 is dedicated to « Voice communication procedures ». More precisely, the rules about letters are to be found in SERA. 14020 and those about numbers in SERA.14035 and 14040 .

– what is the general rule for the transmission of numbers?

– what is the general derogatory rule?

– in which case do you pronounce two digits together?


2 – listening comprehension

Below is an audio file of letters and numbers, the latest recorded in the same order as in SERA.14035


Find the missing letters and numbers in this script.


3 – listening comprehension … again!

Listen to this audio file of letters and numbers recorded randomly and jot down as many as you can.


4 – the general English section




Efficient communication starts with good pronunciation. Step up your motivation a notch and visit the BBC Learning English’s pronunciation section at Scroll to the bottom of the page to start at Episode 1, and work your way up, a couple – or more – videos every day!


5 – the fun corner

Let’s unwind with a few riddles around numbers:

– find a number which, when written as a word, has the same number of letters as its numerical value.

– what number has its letters in alphabetical order when spelled out?

– find a four digit number in which: the first digit is one-third of the second, the third is the sum of the first two, and the last is three times the second. All digits in the number are different.


Find more exercises on letters and numbers in Practice Papers: #31 to #34 and #29.



1 – SERA

– each digit must be pronounced separately. – when the number is in whole hundreds or whole thousands. – when using the 12-hour clock position system.  

2 – full script


3 – full script


5 – the fun corner

– four – forty – abcd = 1349: b is 3 times a, and d is three times b, so d is 9 times a. The only possibility is a=1 and d=9.