Red_Director

HAM License for Air Traffic Control Radio?

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I live in a small town and I live directly next to a small Municipal airport. The airport has no ATC or Tower that I can contact, the manager of the airport told me to get a small handheld radio so that I can communicate with the pilots coming in and out of the airport. 
The radio he recommended to me is the Yaesu FTA-450L Airband VHF Comm

Would I be required to have a HAM license to use this radio?

Thanks, 

Matthew

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5 hours ago, Red_Director said:

The airport has no ATC or Tower that I can contact, the manager of the airport told me to get a small handheld radio so that I can communicate with the pilots coming in and out of the airport. The radio he recommended to me is the Yaesu FTA-450L Airband VHF Comm

AirBand Radios

  • Airband radios are used for both navigation and communication.
  • AirBand radios use VHF frequencies in the 108 MHz - 137 MHz range.
  • No license is required for individuals. However, aircraft stations do require a license. See the FCC for more details.
  • Use only airband radios for aviation.  Aviation radios are not like other VHF radios.  Airband radios have specific channel setups and functions used in aviation communications that land-based VHF radios do not have.
  • Since aviation transmissions primarily occur in the air, communication range is much greater for airband radios than land-based VHF radios. So a 5 watt handheld airband radio used in-flight will have a much longer range than a similar 5 watt VHF land-based radio.  Panel mounted airband radios, usually 8 watts, have an even greater range. From the air, most airband radios typically have a range of around 200 miles.
  • Airband channels are divided into:
        COM channels Used for voice communication, US assigned frequencies between 118.000 MHz to 136.975 MHz. These frequencies are split into 200 narrow-band channels of 50kHZ each.
  NAV channels For navigational assistance, assigned frequencies from 108.000 MHz to 117.95 MHz. The common navigation system used in the US is 'VHF Omnidirectional Range' (VOR). VOR is a system of short-range radio beacons that help pilots determine their position and stay on course. VOR has become a global standard for air navigation, with approximately 3,000 VOR stations worldwide.
  NOAA Channels Today's airband radios typically have NOAA weather channels and provide NOAA weather alerts.
  Distress Channel    Airband radios also have an emergency communication frequency (known as International Air Distress or IAD). It is assigned to 121.5 MHz.

 

The short answer is that your question should be directed to the Federal Communication Commission. They are the regulatory body governing communication and are the most factual source of information regarding requirements.

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Red_Director said:

the manager of the airport told me to get a small handheld

@R Martin answered your question regarding the need for a license, here’s a different take on it.

The manager gave you bad advice.  If your not at least a licensed private pilot, not a “drone” operator with a 107, and you use a handheld radio on the local CTAF you’ll probably get into a lot of trouble.  

One of the hardest things about  being a pilot is learning to communicate, none of that communication is part of the 107 training, what are you going to say?  Also, CTAF’s are common across many local airports, you could be communicating your intentions to a pilot in the next county over and confusing the hell out of everyone. 

Whether you have a radio or not you should not be flying a drone in the proximity of the traffic pattern of any airport.  You can look at the AFD to get the TPA, chances are if you stay below 400ft you should be at least 300ft below the TPA and don’t fly at all on the approach/departure ends within a couple of miles.  Is that legal advice, no, but it’s better advice than you got from the airport manager. 

Some common sense will serve you much better than a radio. 

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8 minutes ago, Red_Director said:

@R Martin Thank you however after reading the points that @Av8Chuck has brought up, I don't think there is need to contact the FCC. I am really glad I posted this because I never would have known and your right @Av8Chuck I could have and most likely would have gotten into some trouble. 

Thanks

Matthew

I have the same radio you are considering. I never transmit but it is a useful tool. Like Chuck said, common sense goes a long way when you are planning and operating.

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You must have an FCC license, which is different than a “Ham” license, to  operate an airband radio on the ground (the license needs to be at/with the radio when transmitting).

You do not need a license to operate the same radio in a manned aircraft for air operations.  

You do not need a license to monitor air operations, which can be useful when operating a sUAS near an airport.

You do not need a license to transmit on any radio in a life or death situation. 

End of story.

I’m a licensed Pilot, Part 107 Pilot, and Extra Class Ham.  

I just acquired an FCC license for a airband handheld radio my staff uses when working at PIA, AGC, PHL and PNE.  We need this radio to coordinate with ground control when driving an automobile on taxiways and runways.  Airport maintenance folks have licenses for the airband radios they use in their operations as well. The license I acquired was difficult to get and relatively expensive. The license is restricted to 4 airports. It was a super-frustrating, buricratic process.

You used to need a Radio Telephone Operators license to operate an air band radio in an airplane - I have one.  However, the FCC dropped that requirement some time ago since, I assume, it is unlikely that such a radio would be used for any other purpose. 

After getting the airband license mentioned above, I asked the person at the FCC who was most helpful what I would need to do to get a license to operate my personal airband radio during my drone operations near an airport. She didn’t respond leaving me to suspect that the FCC isn’t prepared to deal with this potential need.

Violating FCC regulations comes at the expense of heavy fines and possible prison sentences. This is because radio communications are often critical to public safety.

Edited by Earthman

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