Radio Suggestions? ICOM? Sporty's? Yaesu? Walmart (kidding)?

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Has anyone found a good radio for monitoring the controlled airspace and talking to ATC (especially for when you are authorized and inside/under it)?

I would like to buy something new and with a warranty, but do not need all the bells and whistles like glide slope and VOR and such. Is there anything out there for less the 200-400USD that is worthwhile? I don't really trust the online used marketplaces for sophisticated electronics, so what's the best avenue to get a good reliable transceiver?

Call me lazy, but I'd rather use a radio than a smartphone to ATC when I go up and come down, and you sort of need to monitor local traffic anyway, right? - just in case. "Nobody plans an accident," so quick communication ability would be nice, but not $500 Nice. Economy is nice.

Thanks for any good advice or comments.
 

N017RW

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Are you suggesting you'll be actually transmitting on ATC, Unicom, or other frequencies?

My understanding was all 107 operational ATC communication is to be done in writing in advance via a website and radio operation is limited to monitoring only.

So based on that all that would be required is a scanner type device.
 
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Since you will be receive only, any of the handheld scanner such as ICOM or Bearcat would work just fine. Easily programmed to unicom and/or CTAF frequencies with plenty of channels for multiple airports if you need them.
 
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I currently have a uniden bearcat bc125. It was less than $100 and does a pretty good job at picking up air traffic, but not ATC because of line of sight obstructions. Conceivably if i was listening closer to an atc transmitter, it would come in. I do intend to get a yaesu fta-550 after completing the part 107 test. While yes they want you to contact atc using the online portal for towered airspace, there are other situations where a transciever would be useful. The easiest would be operating in G airspace near an airport using the CTAF.
Even the FAA documentation made mention that there was a lot of feedback about radio communication being helpful but they ended up not wanting to burden operators with the requirement of needing a radio. They didn't say it was forbidden.


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A few thoughts here:

The FAA does not recommend remote pilots transmit except in an emergency.

There is no category of FCC license that covers remote pilots currently, thus no way to transmit legally.

Even if it were legal:

What callsign would you use?

How would you identify yourself to ATC, and what would you say?


Bottom line, like much else, this will require more thought by the FAA. It will also require collaboration with the FCC.
 
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Amazon is selling the Yaesu FTA-750L for $380. That's the one I'd go with, though you can get the less-featured FTA-550L for $300.
 
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I purchased the Icom IC-A6 handheld today at Marv's Pilot Shop near Montgomery Field (MYF) San Diego. I fired it up and I'm very happy with it. The A6 is the version without navigation so it is cheaper at about $240. It has a nice sturdy belt clip, too. I have used Icom equipment in amateur radio for many years and it is very good.

I have heard from someone familiar with the COA/COW process that it will be a plus to be able say in the application that the sUAS pilot is able to monitor the appropriate ATC frequency during the requested COA/COW operation.
 
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Are you suggesting you'll be actually transmitting on ATC, Unicom, or other frequencies?
My understanding was all 107 operational ATC communication is to be done in writing in advance via a website and radio operation is limited to monitoring only.
So based on that all that would be required is a scanner type device.

What?! In a word, Yes. I had no idea we could not. I am NOT disputing it at all, but Please tell me where it says we cannot do that. I am very surprised - stunned - that would not be allowed. Student pilots and all other pilots are certainly permitted and expected to use radios (right?) so why wouldn't a remote pilot be at least allowed to contact ATC simply to advise them of his position and intention at the appointed time?

XYZ Tower, Drone charlie papa kilo, authorized location 1 mile southwest, 20 minute flight expected 002 maximum beginning now 1200 local. Will advise when done. Thank you. drone charlie papa kilo.

As to getting authorized as far in advance as possible, absolutely! But ATCs require you to contact the tower before you take off and after you land when you are there at the set time in or below their airspace.That part I DO know from experience. I just assumed a radio would be far better than a phone. Shame on me if radio use is forbidden. Seriously, that is a real surprise. Not kidding. ...and Ham license???? Really? Way back when I was a student (only soloed), I surely did not have a Ham license. Must have missed that class.
 
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What?! In a word, Yes. I had no idea we could not. I am NOT disputing it at all, but Please tell me where it says we cannot do that. I am very surprised - stunned - that would not be allowed. Student pilots and all other pilots are permitted and expected to use radios (right?) so why wouldn't a remote pilot be allowed to contact ATC simply to advise them of his position and intention?

As to getting authorized as far in advance as possible, absolutely! But ATCs require you to contact the tower before you take off and after you land when you are there at the set time in or below their airspace.That part I DO know from experience. I just assumed a radio would be far better than a phone. Shame on me if radio use is forbidden. Seriously, that is a real surprise. Not kidding. ...and Ham license???? Really? Way back when I was a student (only soloed), I surely did not have a Ham license. Must have missed that class.
I got my pilots licence in about 1986. Part of the licence was a Fcc permit to use the aircraft radio. My C150 only had a 90 channel radio at the time and that limited me from flying into some airports. So, I bought a 720 channel hand held transceiver to cover those areas. I could use the radio while in the plane but not standing on the ground as far as transmitting. Something about a ground licence comes to mind. Maybe the laws have changed.
 
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Certainly not disputing this (gigantic surprise), but can someone lead me to the reg or recommendation for the 107 drone pilot not to transmit? My jaw is still dropped...who knew? Amazed. Jeepers - what about Part 61 pilots that are getting that cert? Just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me.

Please keep in mind, I AM referring to using proper protocol, of course.
 
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Certainly not disputing this (gigantic surprise), but can someone lead me to the reg or recommendation for the 107 drone pilot not to transmit? My jaw is still dropped...who knew? Amazed. Jeepers - what about Part 61 pilots that are getting that cert? Just doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to me.

Please keep in mind, I AM referring to using proper protocol, of course.

http://www.faa.gov/regulations_poli...s/aviation/media/remote_pilot_study_guide.pdf


Excerpts:

Although small UA pilots are not expected to communicate over radio frequencies, it is important for the UA pilot to understand “aviation language” and the different conversations they will encounter if the UA pilot is using a radio to aid them in situational awareness when operating in the NAS.

To close, a remote pilot is not expected to communicate with other aircraft in the vicinity of an airport, and should not do so unless there is an emergency situation. However, in the interest of safety in the NAS, it is important that a remote pilot understands the aviation language and the types of aircraft that can be operating in the same area as a small UA.
 
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What?! In a word, Yes. I had no idea we could not. I am NOT disputing it at all, but Please tell me where it says we cannot do that. I am very surprised - stunned - that would not be allowed.

More to the point, it hasn't been authorized.

Stations aboard aircraft are licensed "by rule" - meaning that the FCC explicitly authorizes aircraft stations without requiring them to have an individual operator or station license. Stations on the ground can obtain licenses in one of several categories. There is no license type that applies to remote pilots. Their stations are not aircraft stations since the radio is not aboard the aircraft, and none of the ground station licenses apply.
 
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More to the point, it hasn't been authorized.

Stations aboard aircraft are licensed "by rule" - meaning that the FCC explicitly authorizes aircraft stations without requiring them to have an individual operator or station license. Stations on the ground can obtain licenses in one of several categories. There is no license type that applies to remote pilots. Their stations are not aircraft stations since the radio is not aboard the aircraft, and none of the ground station licenses apply.
Joet isn't right about that.
Aircraft and pilots are no longer required to be FCC licensed to transmit except for international operations.
 
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Points well taken, although I was certainly not referring to or EVER expecting to communicate directly with a manned aircraft - ONLY Tx to/from the tower and ONLY listening to manned pilots for situational awareness in those rare cases when needed; NO WAY did I mean talking to manned pilots (although of course they would hear me if tuned to unicom for that airport).

Doggone it! It does indeed look like we have to fill out the FCC Form 605. I am SURE the FCC regulators did not anticipate drone dudes, but I will certainly give it a shot; far better than going after a 200 dollar "ground station" permit (I have to think that is intended for other than hand held devices). Here is what I found for that...

Summary of rules: FCC: Wireless Services: Aircraft Stations: Operations
Forms - (appears that the MAIN Quick Form for Individuals is the right one): FCC Form 605 - will find out soon enough.

I will just keep my fingers crossed on that. I will provide an explanation with the form - but they (FCC) may well look at it as if it had three heads and came from another planet. I am pretty confident that FCC staffers will be new to this little "droner" twist.

Meantime....how about the 195 dollar "Yaesu FTA-230 Air Band Transceiver?" Anybody have that one?
 
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Joet isn't right about that.
Aircraft and pilots are no longer required to be FCC licensed to transmit except for international operations.

You are referring to the Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit, which is required for international operations.

For domestic operations, aircraft stations are indeed licensed, but "by rule" - same as CB and FRS radios are licensed by rule. You don't obtain a CB license (anymore), you are granted a license by the particular FCC rule. Same with an aircraft station. The FBO, on the other hand, must obtain an individual license - as with all other ground stations.

For more info: FCC: Wireless Services: Aircraft Stations: Aircraft Stations Home
 
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Joet isn't right about that.
Aircraft and pilots are no longer required to be FCC licensed to transmit except for international operations.
I hope you are correct as far as drone aircraft go. Can you please cite a reference for me to print out - I will certainly skip the Form 605 mentioned above if such is the case. THANKS!

UPDATE: I went to some of the handheld air band radio makers' sites and they all seem to indicate that a handheld radio on the air bands does not require the operator to be licensed domestically in the US. It appears that it is not classified as part of an aircraft station (panel-mount radios definitely are), nor are these considered as ground stations as vaguely defined here (apparently has nothing to do with the fact we happen to be standing on the ground, or on the tarmac, or in an airplane in flight):
FCC: Wireless Services: Ground Stations: Services: About

That said, the operator of these radios MUST obey the "airman's rules" for communication and [generally not make a nuisance or safety hazard of him/herself - my words] to legally use the radio. That is, you can use it without a license but you better conform to certain rules - age, vernacular spoken, etc - or you WILL be in trouble.

.....still working on it, and hate guessing. I wish someone could find a really definitive answer. Even FCC seems vague on this in many ways for both marine and air band handheld devices.

Again, I just want to buy a radio to use responsibly for listening AND for tiny short Tx's to advise towers when I get to the place I was authorized days before to fly. Did not mean to open a can of worms.
 
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