Readability 5 is a new radio help program available online at https://readability5.com/. This software presents a basic cockpit layout, complete with moving map to help you hone and improve your RT and yes, it is entirely UK based!
I saw this advertised and was intrigued as I have never heard of software that does this before. In the past I’ve been a keen pixel pilot (flight simulator) and used some software called VoxATC which used clever voice recognition technology to allow you to actually talk to ATC. I have not come across anything interactive that is designed specifically to help with learning RT in the way that this software does.
Now, I have completed my radio licence, several years ago but there is always something to learn when it comes to R/T. There are things I have yet to do and places I plan on going that will require a different set of R/T skills and knowledge outside of my usual applications. So anything that helps with that was interesting to me as I’m always interested in improving my skills and knowledge.
What does Readability5 do?
Readability5 is a learning support software for R/T in the UK for general aviation. It provides an interactive set of instruments within set scenarios that take you step-by-step through the required ATC comms with prompts and other tools.
As you can see below, you can interact with the radio and other elements recognisable to you. Each of these does as you would expect them to and completing them in the right order is what progresses you through the numbered stages of the module.
Can you talk to the software?
No, unfortunately, from what I can tell and have read it does not use voice recognition to identify if you have said the correct thing. You can press the ‘PTT’ button on screen once without saying anything and it will move onto the next step. It’s designed for you to practice, at your own pace, outside of the high workload and pressure of the live cockpit. What I like about this is you can think more about the scenario and the process involved. I do seem to remember it asking for permission to use the microphone when I first used it, perhaps it is something in the pipeline in terms of development.
How much does it cost?
There is a free trial for part of the ‘circuit’ comms module. At time of writing the modules were between £3.99 and £4.99 each but the standard RRP does appear to be £7.99. There are 8 products available with 4 under production. Bundles are available but I found it more cost effective and useful to simply buy the individual modules I was interested in. For me, this was:
Module 1 – VFR land away
Module 2 – Circuits
Module 3 – Controlled airspace
Module 4 – Emergencies
Module 5 – Flying abroad
Is this suitable for microlight pilots?
It entirely depends on where you fly to and perhaps where you plan on flying to. This is very much geared towards a full PPL. The circuits are done at a more controlled aerodrome for example. However, I prefer this because I would rather practice the more complex scenarios knowing that I’ve already got a good handle on the basic stuff, such as flying at an A/G aerodrome.
What I also like is that on the ‘tablet’ you have, you can not only write notes but there’s also an ‘instructor’ button which you can press to listen to what the correct response for the scenario is. This is very useful and helps learning. Having completed two modules there were several occasions where I used this to understand what the correct response was. There is also other aircraft involved too to help you develop a situational awareness using the radio. Furthermore, the radio voices are all scripted and are humans, not robots reading words!
Having now worked my way through two modules I’m impressed. I’m certainly going to use this as a way of improving my own R/T and practicing. I especially liked the VFR land away as it enabled me to practice talking to radar services, information service at an aerodrome and overflying an aerodrome. In my humble opinion a really great idea, nicely executed and well worth £25 or so to practice your R/T. Something I envisage both students and veteran pilots would find useful. The trial is free and carries no commitments, so take a look and have a go to see if it is something you would useful.
There’s also a review of this in the June 2021 issue of Flyer.
Disclaimer: This article was written for information and entertainment only and was up to date at the time of writing. Please always ask a qualified instructor for more information and discuss airfield operations and the use of aircraft equipment with a suitably qualified person.