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Old 22-08-2013, 03:54   #91
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Re: VHF Radio Use

Originally Posted by Dockhead View Post
It's perfectly legal to use the airband in a genuine distress situation, which is the only use which was being discussed here.
Obviously if you are in distress all means are used, but I read at least one post that talked about chatting with aircraft. That is not a genuine distress situation.

Just want to make sure people understand that this frequency band is reserved for aircraft.

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Old 22-08-2013, 04:37   #92
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Re: VHF Radio Use

I wonder why more people don't carry an airband radio for emergency use or for the grab bag. In some remote areas there is more chance of hailing an aircraft than a ship. 121.5Mhz is the aviation frequency left open by airliners and reserved for emergency use. A handheld at sea should be able to transmit 50 miles or so.

If it is used other than in an emergency the powers-that-be will drop a sledge hammer on your head. An aviation misdeed similar to sailing the wrong way in a traffic separation zone.

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Old 22-08-2013, 15:18   #93
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Re: VHF Radio Use

As for using 121.5 in a non emergency situation it really depends on where you are. If you're near the coast and overheard by Air Traffic Control, then I believe ATC would warn you about mis-use of the Emegency frequency only, I don't think they would prosecute.

However if mid ocean, the only stations that will hear you will be aircraft. Now I can't vouch for Airlines that predominantly cross the Atlantic or North Pacific, as some pilots can be a bit pedantic. But if in the South Pacific, you're most likely going to have an Australian, Kiwi or American flying over you. I'm fairly certain that most of those crew would be happy to relay a non emergency message for you. For example, if you called an aircraft on 121.5 then transferred to 123.45 and explained that you've had comms failure of your long range comms gear, HF, satphone etc, and could they pass a message to a relative that you are safe, the yacht is ok and ETA next port is XXXX. They would have no problem doing that for you.

Pilots are very similar to yachties, we understand the situation yachts are in and apply commonsense.

Its not as if there is much to do on a 14 hour trans pacific flght. After transferring from Sydney ATC (VHF) the next VHF ATC call would be to SOCAL CENTRE (southern california), 14 hours later. In the meantime, press climb button 4 times as the weight reduces. 3 to 4 HF frequencies to tune, 1 or 2 calls on HF and lots of system monitoring.

This reminds me of an old flying story, not sure if its true ! Overheard on ATC frequency someone saying, "its cold up here". ATC responds, "aircraft that just swore on ATC frequecy, say again your callsign". Aircaft responds "I said I'm cold not stupid".
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Old 22-08-2013, 16:13   #94
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Re: VHF Radio Use

Since we're now talking about what kind of chatter has crossed the airband frequencies, I'll mention a few eye openers that are not the norm. They were in the Frankfurt logs about 20 years ago.

To appreciate the first one, you need to know that the ATC guys in Frankfurt have a reputation for being very stiff & very intolerant of pilots who do not know exactly what the correct protocols are. You also need to know that when someone asks for progressive instructions, they are basically asking to have their hand held & asking to be given step by step turns, etc. & this is a time consuming task that ATC usually does not want to be bothered with at any location. The transcript went something like this:

BA: Frankfort Tower, this is BAxxx, requesting progressive taxi instructions to terminal xx.

No response from tower

BA: Frankfurt tower, say again, this is BAxxxx, requesting progressive taxi instructions.

Tower: BAxxxx, Haff you never been to Frankfurt before?

BA: just once, it was back in the '40's. I was flying a different kind of Boeing, I didn't stop to land, I was just dropping something off.

I don't expect that pilot got a very warm welcome after he touched ground.

The other one, was from the same logs, around the same time. A stir was created by a Lufthansa pilot who was speaking in German. The tower advised him a few times that he needed to speak English on the radio because that was the official language of ATC at that location. The pilot then responded (a bit angrily) something like this:

Luftansa: I am a German pilot, flying a German aircraft over Germany, vhy must I speak Englich?!!

The response probably came from a BA pilot. It was in a perfect British accent & it was simply : "Because you lost the bloody war".

I never found out if that Brit was ever identified by the authorities. Here too, I don't think that he would have gotten a very warm welcome after landing if he was identified.

As I said at the beginning of this post. These transmissions were out of the norm. Those airwaves are normally 100% business & no monkeying around.
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Old 22-08-2013, 16:22   #95
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Re: VHF Radio Use

EPIRBs and PLBs transmit homing beacons on 121.5 Mhz and I've heard of cases where it is passing aircraft that have picked it up.

Another strong argument to carry one, your chances to be found just increased still further.

I'm not sure voice communication with the aircraft is essential, if they have detected and reported your homing beacon.
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Old 22-08-2013, 18:57   #96
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Re: VHF Radio Use

A little thread drift

From Aircraft Illustrated Magazine, UK:

This one was heard in Holland:

Tower: What's your altitude?
Pilot: 1,000ft.
Tower: What's your heading?
Pilot: 175
Tower: What's your speed?
Pilot: 150
Tower What's your bra size?
Pilot: 36C.....Arggghhh ^$%*&


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Old 20-06-2014, 13:13   #97
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Re: VHF Radio Use

In the UK at least it is a legal requirement to pass the Short Range Certificate (SRC) to use any form of VHF with the exception of a Mayday situation. Therefore on any UK flagged vessel or any vessel in UK waters there must be someone onboard with a valid VHF licence/certificate. It doesn't have to be a UK licence as long as it is recognised by the Maritime Coastguard Authority (MCA). Additional licences are required for HF and MF radio. The principle is to ensure people using the VHF system are familiar with it's workings, rules and procedures.

Channel 16 is considered to be the International Distress, Safety and Calling channel, meaning simply that you can use it to call another station but must move to a free working channel immediately. In UK at least the working channels are 06, 08, 72, 77. Other countries might have different ones but in general you will find these 4 are classed as ship to ship on the International VHF system.

English is the de facto language of the airwaves but don't expect to hear nothing but English. There was an interesting exchange between an angry German and an Italian vessel here in Croatia a little while ago with Mr German demanding the Italian vessel spoke English on Ch16. He was rebuked by Italian Coastguard who responded "this is Italian Coastguard talking to an Italian registered vessel in Italian waters, what language do you think we are going to speak?". Needless to say no answer was the reply.


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