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Airband Radio in UK


Mark Pugh
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On 23/02/2019 at 19:06, Mark Pugh said:

Excellent, I'm now on a waiting list with Andy Moon. He has two PPG pilots waiting to learn and will try and get a course for just 4 of us, possibly with glider pilots or balloonists if no-one else is interested.

It is expensive, days course fee is realistic at £70, but the two exams are another £130 at the end of the day, then there is a CAA fee of £75. Plus a £15 fee for handheld radio. But it is for life and I think that an Airband radio will slowly get increasingly used by PPG pilots. If we can afford £10k for kit, then a £275 payment for a legal radio to use in the sky is worth it.

I believe when a course date has been organised, initial deposit is paid, we get some paperwork to read before the one day course, but Andy doesn't allow failure, so you better be up for it!!!

The 'handheld' is technically described as 'transportable' and the £15 is for 5 years, after which it needs renewing.  Worth checking that the Yaesu has a certificate of conformity, as you need to include that when you apply for your transportable ticket.  It took me quite a few months of negotiating with CAA a few years back, but it was worth it in the end.  Just don't get caught out in the pooh trap of callsigns; because we don't have a G registered aircraft we don't have a de facto callsign.  I just talk with the local ATC unit by phone beforehand and they invariably agree that 'Paramotor i' is the best option, as it lets other airspace users know what to look out for in the circuit.  If there is ever more than one paramotor then they use 'Paramotor i, ii, iii' etc.  Originally I fancied something a bit less direct like 'Slowcoach' 'Chainsaw' etc but names as callsigns are largely registered to companies and it just wasn't worth the faff factor.

And one final point - it can be quite tricky to get the mounting right so that you can achieve some semblance of all round cover without getting too much interference from the motor, even with shielded HT lead.  I have resorted to fitting radio to an upright harness strap and using my body as shielding.  Reduces coverage from behind but I largely try to speak to stations that are in front of me...

 

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On ‎07‎/‎02‎/‎2019 at 07:40, alan_k said:

The course I took was Planespeak Aviation RT, usually held at Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green airport. A really nice fellah and relaxed atmosphere.

andy@planespeak (dot) com

Cheers Alan, booked in with Andy on 13th March. He sent the paperwork by email....even that is SCARY!!!

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Im brand new to PPG but Im a commercial pilot and flying Instructor. I totally understand some PPG pilots wouldnt want to have to take an exam for what is seen as very infrequent use. I can also understand the other side of the argument. For what its worth you can get the CAA RT Handbook and learn it. Most flying schools have an examiner in house and it would be a very painless process taking the practical exam.

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On ‎02‎/‎03‎/‎2019 at 21:36, Trevsked said:

Sorry if it’s beeen asked before but can you obtain an RT license and use it without having a PPL of some sorts?

 

Trevor.

Hi Trevor, YES. I'm going through that process now. Exams booked on 13th March, this month, after a days lesson. It is expensive, so is the radio, but feel it is the right way to go if I want to fly even in open airspace.

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20 hours ago, Trevsked said:

Thanks fellas. Where are you taking the training and exam Mark?

 

Trevor.

Hi Trevor, actually taking the day course and then exams in Alvechurch but the actual main school is associated with Halfpenny Green Airport in Wolverhampton. www.planespeak.com, guys name is Andy Moon. He reliably informs that his pass rate is fantastic!!! More and more ultralights are becoming licensed and they have made it easier to register the handheld and not the plane the radio is fitted to. Up until now, the only PPG pilots that I knew used airband, were those from other disciplines (PPL pilots or commercial jets). They tell me that they find it very useful, not just at airports/grass strips, but to talk with balloonists ("Permission to come closer"), that always gets a "Yes" with permission obtained, but would be an airprox and notifiable (!) without permission. I just think we're currently very unregulated, even with ratings, anything we can do to become more "professional" has got to help.

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YEH, just passed my "Flight Radio Telephony Operator's Licence" today. Spent the day with another PPG pilot, a gyrocopter pilot and an ultralight pilot. It was like a private lesson just the four of us with Andy Moon from www.planespeak.com.

A couple of weeks ago he sent us the initial paperwork to read through; this was quite scary and there is no way I can truthfully say it made much sense to me. I learnt a lot from it, but it also slightly worried me, just how much there was to learn.

But Andy made this specific group up with us four, and could tailor the day to our type of flying.

At lunch time we took the written test, it's only 12 multiple choice questions. Then in the afternoon we started work on the planning of a flight, this flight took us through MATZ, Class D airspace and included taking off, landings and a distress call. You would never expect this all on a single flight, but it had to be accomplished.

Great day, learnt loads, how useful it will be to a PPG pilot....I'll let you know. In the past couple of months, we had problems taking off from a grass strip as light aircraft kept coming in as we got prepared! NOW, we could deal with this. In flight we can now call a balloonist and request permission for a fly-by. Without permission this could be an airprox incident!

I'm not prepared to land at Birmingham International... but I could fly through less used airspace with permission from the tower. Highly recommend this course, it's possible for anyone, there is stuff to learn that we may never use (Squawks, transponders, QDM, Radar, etc.) but it will make us better pilots with more freedom in the air.

It is expensive, my radio cost £169 for a new Yaesu 250L with all the new frequencies 8.33Kc steps. That is six times the price of the illegal Baofeng, even with an amateur licence it's still illegal to use in the sky and you can't speak to PPL, balloonists, Ultralights, etc..

A days tuition £70, the two exams another £130. Then you need to register with the CAA for your FRTO Licence, another £70, and finally the actual radio needs licensing at £15 every three years.

But your PPG has probably already cost thousands of pounds.... Motor, wing, reserve, helmet, etc..

Any questions, please feel free to message me. I would highly rate www.planespeak.com as capable and suitable, but passing the exams is only the first part of being a good radio operator. They are based at Halfpenny Green Airport near Wolverhampton, but hold courses in different locations within the central UK.

I hope this encourages others to think about becoming more professional as they fly.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Because the frequency your radio displays is not always the frequency of transmission.  The 8.33 is not 100pc accurate and some anomalies do exist.

 

As an interesting aside, it is correct that use of the 2m band is illegal by both non licenced users at all, and all users in the air, but in fact ofcom dont really care,  so feel free.  It is a circular argument between the CAA and ofcom which causes /AM  to remain illegal as there is no real technical reason for it.   Furthermore, and i have seen letters to prove it,  whilst for Amateurs aeronautical mobile is illegal in the UK, when In or over foreign countries who do permit it, it is legal.  So, since i am a radio amateur,  i sometimes use my aircraft HF set on the amateur bands when over certain CEPT states who permit /AM

Meanwhile, carry on using 2m...its very underused by Amateurs. Just be cautious that below 145 MHz you're in the sideband area and if youre unlucky you'll cause temporary interference to other stations.  But if you had a quid for every time you did it I doubt you'd buy the fuel home and anyway, my 400w of ssb will get you more than your 2.5w of FM gets me .

There is no doubt that a FRTO licence is the way to go but ofcom put all sorts of barriers in the way when you actually want a radio, as many have discovered.  Again, we have to be pragmatic.  Ofcom really only care when serious interference is caused which endangers aircraft.  Unless they are forced or paid ofcom dont move. The FRTO courses are good and worth it if you feel the need to talk to airtraffic and maybe you want to.  Maybe you want a transponder and TCAS too...  Xc gurus might well need to. 

 

Personally I prefer being nonradio when I can be and when I was flying pg I carried my thirty quid Beofung. 

 


  David

Edited by DavidG4
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Hi David,

There are no anomalies of the 'actual' frequencies used. The legacy channel width of 25kHz has been split into 3 equal parts to provide extra channels. Frankly this surprised me as I was expecting it to be slit into 2 as other bands were some while ago, giving a 12.5kHz channel width.

So the frequencies used are, for instance;

123.000, 123.0083, 123.0166, 123.025, 123.0333, 123.0416, 123.050 etc.

Personally I was expecting to see .008/.016/.025/.033/.042 etc. on the radio display but the powers that be decided to refer to the channels by the nearest 5kHz. My guess is that was done to accomodate existing displays (possibly that can only display a 5 or 0 at the end, remembering that these allocations are decades old), plus a simpler software re-write for display duties.

The new channels are thus referenced by the nearest 5kHz (a bit crackers IMO). So the radio will display frequencies in 5kHz 'slots' on the display but the actual frequencies will be on 8.333kHz increments. Display = Frequency as so:

123.005 = 123.000 MHz Channel 'Zero, Zero, Five'

123.010 = 123.0083 MHz Channel 'Zero, One, Zero'

123.015 = 123.0166 MHz Channel 'Zero, One, Five'

123.020 = 123.0166 as above.

123.025 = 123.025 MHz Channel 'Zero, Two, Five'

123.030 = 123.025 as above.

123.035 = 123.0333 MHz Channel 'Zero, Tree, Five'

I hope this explains the apparent anomalies. Also see https://833radio.com/news/show/7

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Alan, 

Thanks.  Yes, I knew that but to me the use of a frequency display on the head which is different from the actual Tx freq whilst we still call the channel number by the freq, IS anomalous in that it differs from what one might expect.   But I appreciate your clear and concise reply.

 

David

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No just the channel reference has changed. Transmit/receive is still on 129.825MHz. It just indicates you are in an 8.33 environment.

The Safetycom ref 135.480 is still transmitting/receiving at 135.475MHz.

A little confusing if you think of the 'real' frequencies, but indicating the 8.33 use.

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18 minutes ago, alan_k said:

No just the channel reference has changed. Transmit/receive is still on 129.825MHz. It just indicates you are in an 8.33 environment.

The Safetycom ref 135.480 is still transmitting/receiving at 135.475MHz

1

Sorry, Alan that went 100 ft straight over my head.

Are 135.480 and 129.830 the same channels then?

I think 129.825MHz changed to 129.830MHz in Jan 2019, because I was asked to update our website to reflect this.

 

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Lets see if we can lower the flypast 😁

SafetyCom and the microlight channel are completely separate.

I was just indicating that the reference for both channels has changed, even though the actual frequency used has remained the same.

I knew the way the 8.33 channels are referenced would cause some confusion. To re-state the situation:

In order to differentiate an 8.33 channel from a 25kHz channel the 8.33 channels are now referenced by a description involving steps of 5kHz (in verbal communication and on the display).

The 'actual' frequency used may not have changed, particularly if it was already on a 25kHz allocation.

Techie bit - ignore if this continues the flypast.

The necessity to differentiate between the old 25kHz regime and the new 8.33kHz regime is to reduce interference from old 25kHz equipment (remembering that Air band is worldwide) when used within the 8.33 areas.

A legacy 25kHz transmission is wider than the new 8.33 and can bleed into an adjacent new 8.33 channel.

Hope this is clearer.

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3 hours ago, DavidG4 said:

Because the frequency your radio displays is not always the frequency of transmission.  The 8.33 is not 100pc accurate and some anomalies do exist.

 

As an interesting aside, it is correct that use of the 2m band is illegal by both non licenced users at all, and all users in the air, but in fact ofcom dont really care,  so feel free.  It is a circular argument between the CAA and ofcom which causes /AM  to remain illegal as there is no real technical reason for it.   Furthermore, and i have seen letters to prove it,  whilst for Amateurs aeronautical mobile is illegal in the UK, when In or over foreign countries who do permit it, it is legal.  So, since i am a radio amateur,  i sometimes use my aircraft HF set on the amateur bands when over certain CEPT states who permit /AM

Meanwhile, carry on using 2m...its very underused by Amateurs. Just be cautious that below 145 MHz you're in the sideband area and if youre unlucky you'll cause temporary interference to other stations.  But if you had a quid for every time you did it I doubt you'd buy the fuel home and anyway, my 400w of ssb will get you more than your 2.5w of FM gets me .

There is no doubt that a FRTO licence is the way to go but ofcom put all sorts of barriers in the way when you actually want a radio, as many have discovered.  Again, we have to be pragmatic.  Ofcom really only care when serious interference is caused which endangers aircraft.  Unless they are forced or paid ofcom dont move. The FRTO courses are good and worth it if you feel the need to talk to airtraffic and maybe you want to.  Maybe you want a transponder and TCAS too...  Xc gurus might well need to. 

 

Personally I prefer being nonradio when I can be and when I was flying pg I carried my thirty quid Beofung. 

 


  David

Thanks for posting this David, saves me from trying to. Good to spell it out to those that want to know.

Alan G6WJJ

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After using Amateur bands UHF and VHF on FM (G0WKT full license), Airband on AM, original CB on 27MHz AM (circa 1979) and legal CB on 27MHz FM; I am surprised how poor the AM signal is. FM is much better reacting to squelch and just sounds more quality!

The major problem for free flight use is the cheap Chinese Baofeng radios that only cost £30, are very poorly filtered with spurious emissions all over the resonant frequencies. You pay extra for ICOM, YAESU, KENWOOD, etc, because the electronics is just so much better and the frequency that is displayed is the only frequency you transmit and receive on.

What I would like to say is if you use these radios, I would highly recommend that you use a frequency just outside the amateur band. Because the antenna are designed for the bands and although the equipment can be opened up to transmit on many more frequencies, the length of the antenna makes it less and less efficient and likely to blow internal components. So use just outside 144 - 146 MHz on the VHF band (ie 143.970) or 430 - 440 MHz on the UHF band (ie 429.995). Also be aware that this is true in the UK, in USA the bands are 144-148 and 420 - 450 (I believe!).

I go to fields and cringe when I hear the days frequency is 139.000 MHz....

My personal belief is it's better to have a radio and be able to chat with others in the sport, than rely on your mobile phone after landing.

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