Recreational Aircraft Association of NZ
RAANZ P&P manual
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Flight in controlled airspace or operating from controlled and uncontrolled registered airfields can be made much simpler with the use of radio- in fact you may be refused permission to enter controlled airspace without a radio. Mandatory Broadcast Zones (MBZs) and Common Frequency Zones (CFZs) also require the pilot to broadcast position and intentions to other traffic in the zone. Being in direct communication with Air Traffic Controllers, Information Units, Ground stations and other aircraft helps ensure flight safety and efficient use of airspace.
With a radio you can get clearance into or out of controlled airspace and airfields, obtain weather information en route, lodge or cancel flight plans, and maintain awareness of other radio equipped traffic in your general vicinity, etc.
You should refer to your owners manual for instructions on how to adjust frequencies and other operational parameters of the radios you operate.
Microlight aircraft do not require a radio by law but their use is strongly advised and the holding of a current FRTO rating is mandatory for Advanced National Certificate holders.
The requirements for use of radio are:
Actual use of the radio can at first seem difficult as you strain to understand and respond to instructions. To help get used to the phraseology it can be worthwhile to arrange to spend some time listening to other pilots at a ground station and practice calling on a microlight 'chat frequency'. A few hours of this can do wonders for your understanding of what is expected of you in practice.
Note that 119.1 is NOT a chat channel- It is used as a common frequency for traffic at unattended airfields, and can get quite busy on fine weekends. Do not clutter this frequency with irrelevant chatter. Go to an unused frequency such as 133.375 for radio practice and general chatter.
Remember to always keep a good listening watch on the radio, as this not only keeps you informed of other airspace users movements, but also helps to ensure that you respond promptly when called by an ATS Unit.
2 THE BASICS
The following provides the basics of radio operations in aircraft. A deeper understanding of each bullet point is not a requirement but it is in the interests of the pilot to understand the basics further.
2.1 How your VHF radio works
The VHF radio transmits and listens to transmissions that occur at the working frequency , the base frequency used in transmissions is known as the carrier . The transmitter takes audio from the microphone / intercom and superimposes it over the carrier, and this is transmitted through the aerial as radio wave energy. The receiver listens on the same working frequency and separates the incoming audio from the carrier making it available for the intercom / headset / speaker.
VHF signals are line of sight and don't tend to bend around objects like mountains. They do travel for a long distances even when the transmitter is a low power unit like a hand-held , ie 0.6 watts. Quality of the transmission and distance transmitted are largely dependent on quality of the installation especially the aerial setup and quality of the microphone / intercom interface to the radio.
VHF transmissions will be affected by any object between the aerials of the two stations. In some installations transmissions in some directions may be blocked or degraded by:
Generally weak signals will be more readable the higher the aircraft flies. An incoming weak signal may often be successfully heard by adjusting the squelch control.
2.2 HF High Frequency Radio
HF transmissions bounce off the higher atmospheric layers. They were used extensively for offshore operations and mountainous communication. The clarity of transmissions is more variable than VHF but the range in difficult conditions is much better. HF radios are becoming less common as satellite telephones and digital services have filled the role that was needed in the past.
HF radios often had extendable aerials and were generally larger units than VHF radios.
2.3 VHF Radio Controls and indicators
On / Off Switch - Used to power on the radio. In most aircraft the Master Switch must also be ON. It is usual to protect your radio from engine starting voltage fluctuations by switching it on after the engine is running. It is also usual practice to switch the radio off prior to engine shutdown.
Frequency Selection and Display - VHF radios transmit and receive in the 118.000 MHZ to 136.975 MHZ range and many can also receive-only from 108.000 MHZ to 117.975 MHZ. Modern 760 channel radios allow frequency selection in 0.025 MHZ increments while older 360 channel models can be selected in 0.05 MHZ increments. Some preset frequency VHF radios have a number of frequency crystals installed, typically 5 - 10, and these are the only frequencies available on the radio. Fixed frequency radios are often found as base stations and are less useful as operational aircraft radios.
Most published frequencies in use in New Zealand fit within the 180 channel model with only a few that require the 360 channel model.
There are many different ways that the radio manufacturer may have you select the working frequency.
Older panel mount radios tend to have mechanical rotary switches that are usually assigned Hundreds / Tens / Units and Decimals. As the frequency changes digits are displayed to indicate the frequency. Typically these radios will only have one working frequency.
Modern panel mount radios tend to have one or more rotary or push switches and a display panel, LCD or LED, that indicates the frequencies. Often they show a working frequency and a standby frequency and will have a switch or button to swap the working and standby. In this case the frequency selection switches will usually change the settings on the standby frequency.
Delcom hand-held radios have an arrangement of thumbwheel switches that select and display the working frequency acting on the Tens / Units and Tenths with a separate switch for selection of an optional add on of 0.000 , 0.025 , 0.050 or 0.075. These radios only have one working frequency.
Most other hand-held radios have a keypad and a LCD that shows the frequency selected. Typically a quick method of changing often used frequencies or toggling working and standby frequencies is available.
Having a working frequency and a standby frequency is very useful as you can be prepared in advance to toggle between two frequencies. eg Swapping between Tower and ATIS , local traffic and en route information, ground and tower at a controlled airfield. Toggling minimises the time required to swap frequencies and reduces the possibility of setting the radio off the required frequency.
Understanding how your radio selects the 0.025 MHZ steps is important as inadvertently selecting a 0.025 step when not required is a common cause of being off the required frequency- particularly with the Delcom style radios.
Volume Control - Sets the volume level that feeds your intercom / headset / speaker (incoming transmissions as audio volume)
Squelch control - This will be a graduated adjustment knob or an ON/OFF switch. Often it will be incorporated into the volume control as a pull push, a second adjusting rotary graduated control or as part of the on/off power switch. Normally your radio will be silent. ie no hissing or background noise. When another station transmits, carrier sense circuitry in your radio activates the audio output and you can hear the audio of the transmission. The squelch control modifies the threshold or bypasses the trigger circuit. This control is used to check the volume setting of your radio ( incoming transmission as audio volume ) , assist in attempting to receive weak signals that fade in and out or are broken , and in the case of variable adjustment control set the trigger level.
Carrier On / Transmit - Usually a LED , LCD or light that shows while your radio is transmitting. This is useful to verify that your transmit switch is functioning correctly and especially that it is stopping transmissions when released. Stuck Mike or continuous transmission is a serious situation that should be monitored and prevented. It stops all incoming transmissions (your radio can only receive or transmit, not both at once) and blocks or degrades, depending on the relative power and proximity of stations , all of the other users of the frequency. It also broadcasts every thing you are saying !
Transmit Button - Blocks the receiver , livens the mike / intercom and transmits.
2.4 Microphones, headsets , push-to-talk and intercoms
There are several arrangements commonly found in aircraft installations.
Microphone and speaker - This is becoming less common. A microphone fitted with a Push-to-talk button is used to transmit and a speaker in the cockpit is used to listen to received messages. Handheld microphones are usually held touching just above the top lip , or just below the bottom lip , depending on microphone design. The microphone is only active when powered up by the PTT.
Headset connected direct - Quite common especially in single and two place aircraft. A push to talk button livens the headset microphone to transmit and the received messages are heard in the headset ear phones
Radio with intercom - This type of installation can be thought of in four logical components. The radio, intercom, PTT switch and the headset. Some radios also provide an intercom function as a built in function. Many intercoms have a fail safe mode so that if they are powered off they behave like a headset directly connected to the radio- usually on the Pilot headset. Usually the intercom will have separate squelch and volume controls. Voice activation is usual and the intercom will be silent when there is no cockpit communication. In this installation the PTT button triggers the transmitter and enables the audio from the intercom through to the transmitter.
It is common for intercoms to manage several audio inputs. Multiple radios, other navigation aids, stereos and other devices.
Headsets It is important that the headset microphone is correctly positioned. Usually the microphone works most effectively when it is quite close to the bottom lip. Many headsets have a volume control for the earphones.
3 THE PHONETIC ALPHABET AND USAGE
This must be learnt as it is the basic of all aviation communication.
3.1 The Alphabet
The syllables to be emphasised are in CAPITALS
3.2 Numerals and Altitudes
The following is the pronunciation of numerals during radio calls
Here are a few examples of flight levels Only the whole hundreds and thousands are given as HUNDRED or TOUSAND.
When giving radio frequencies, the word "DECIMAL" (pronounced DAY-see-mal) must be used. eg: 118.1 - WUN WUN AIT DAY-see-mal WUN
When transmitting time we generally only say the minutes of the hour. However, if there is any possibility of a possible misunderstanding, then the hour should also be transmitted.
For aviation we use the 24 hour clock, with the day beginning at 0000 hours and ending 24 hours later at 2400 hours.
3.4 Common words and phrases
4 WHAT IS THE RADIO USED FOR?
The aircraft radio is used to convey the following types of messages.
5 AIRCRAFT CALLSIGNS
All stations have callsigns.
A call sign may be permanent or change such as a flight number of a passenger service flight.
There are three types used in New Zealand.
Only the first type is used in Microlight and aero-club type aircraft. Commercial operators use the other methods of identification.
After the initial communication, you may drop the type and just use the 3 registration letters.
6 BASIC CALL STRUCTURE.
Initial calls to attended ATS stations always start with the destination station, followed by the calling station identification.
Calling an attended station example
You then reply with your message starting with your callsign.
If you make an error while callling ,stop the call and restart by saying CORRECTION
You will notice that once communication is established with the ground station it is not necessary to include the ground station callsign in subsequent transmission. Since all communications are between the ground station and an aircraft, the ground station is assumed to be a party to the communication, and the aircraft callsign confirms which aircraft the communication relates to.
When broadcasting to traffic at an unattended airfield or in a Mandatory Broadcast Zone or Common Frequency Zone, it is important to identify who you are addressing at the start of each transmission. Common frequencies such as 119.1 MHz apply to many different airfields and it becomes very important to confirm which destination stations are being called.
Readback is used when you are required to confirm what a station has asked you to do. This is important when operating in controlled airspace, where you need to accurately repeat (readback) the instructions from the controller.
Readability is the measuring of the ability of radio transmissions to be heard and understood. The following scale is used to quantify readability
9 LISTENING ON THE RADIO
While a lot of radio traffic will occur most of it will not be for you . If you think you have missed a call say
Any message for you will begin with your callsign.
If you hear a station trying to communicate with another station unsuccessfully you may ask the calling station if you can be of assistance . The calling station may ask you to call the receiving station on his behalf, but keep in touch with the calling station.
10 POSITION REPORTING
One of the most important uses of the radio is position reporting . You may wish to report your position for the following reasons
It is good practice to broadcast your position every 15 to 30 mins when on a cross country flight and when you enter an area of heavier traffic movements such as controlled and uncontrolled airfields. Let other aircraft know you are around, but make your calls short and give accurate information.
When you give a position report information should contain the following
As much microlight flying is carried out in VFR conditions in uncontrolled airspace (Class G Airspace) reporting of prominent ground features is very important.
An example of a position call may be
ETA 25 means 25 minutes past the present hour.
11 TYPICAL RADIO CALLS- Uncontrolled airfield
At runway, about to roll
About to return to field
Note. Do not ask “Any traffic?” NORDO aircraft can not reply, others may not or, if several aircraft present, may all try to speak at once.
On the other hand, for those already in the circuit, it is good practice to report your position when you hear an aircraft joining – this gives them a heads-up on the runway in use and potential traffic.''
12 RADIO SERVICES
Some Control Towers have an "ATIS" (Automatic Terminal Information Service) facility. This is a continuous tape of relevant weather and runway information which a pilot may tune to on a special radio frequency. (In the case of Napier, 121.8)
The Information is updated each time there is a change in the situation, and each change is given a letter of the alphabet as a title to enable the Controller to check that you are in receipt of the correct ATIS.
A TYPICAL ATIS IS :-
'''NAPIER TERMINAL INFORMATION ALFA ISSUED AT ................UTC
EXPECT VOR/DME APPROACH RUNWAY 16
(May be remarks about runway serviceability or work on the airfield)
SURFACE WIND 160 degrees, 10 KNOTS
VISIBILITY 10 KILOMETERS, HAZE
CLOUD FEW 4 TOUSAND FEET
TEMPERATURE 14 DEW POINT 4
FORECAST 2000FT WIND 140 MAGNETIC 20 KNOTS
ON FIRST CONTACT WITH NAPIER TOWER NOTIFY RECEIPT OF ALFA.'''
Remember when you confirm the receipt of a particular ATIS you must read back the QNH.
When the tower is off watch an "OFF WATCH" message is transmitted.
All ATIS and AWIB transmisions give wind direction in magnetic.
'''NAPIER TOWER IS OFF WATCH
USE UNATTENDED PROCEDURES ON 118.1
TERMINATE FLIGHT PLANS ON 124.8
NAPIER TOWER WILL RE - OPEN WATCH AT ..................UTC'''
This "OFF WATCH" message is handy for finding out what time the controller will commence duties. If you have started flying before his hours of attendance, when the controller announces that control has commenced if you are inside his controlled airspace, give a position report and tell him what you are doing so he can get a picture of the traffic in his area.
13 TYPICAL RADIO CALLS- Controlled airfield
The rules for operating in controlled airspace are in fact quite simple
It can sound quite overwhelming to start with, but the phraseology is quite standard. It pays to spend some time listening to the RTF to get familiar with the phraseology and the particular patterns used by that ATS facility.
Some clearances can be quite complex (reporting position, altitude, QNH, other traffic, special instructions, etc)- it helps to have a notepad to jot the important ones down so you can remember them for readback and action. If you are unclear- ask. Better than guessing and getting it wrong.
14 FLIGHT PLANS AND SARWATCH
14.1 Flight Plans
VFR flight plans are only required if your flight will take you more than 50NM from land, or if the pilot in command requires an alerting service. But you can submit a VFR flight plan for any flight if you wish.
VFR flights for which a flight plan has been filed must maintain a listening watch on the appropriate frequency. If the pilot wishes to report positions the report should contain the following elements (as appropriate)
14.2 SARWATCH. (Search and Rescue Watch)
Sarwatch is an option pilots may choose when requiring an alerting service.
Sarwatch is available for flights both within controlled and class G airspace.
To request Sarwatch the following details must be provided.
To request SARWATCH just radio the nearest ATC unit.
NAPIER TOWER, FOXTROT TANGO INDIA, REQUEST SARWATCH. NAPIER TOWER
The Controller will then ask you for the above details.
Submitting a Flight Plan or Requesting a Sarwatch might cost you a few dollars, but they are available for your safety so don’t be frightened to use them.
If you realise that you will not arrive at your destination before or at your ETA, contact the nearest ATC unit and amend your Flight plan or Sartime.
REMEMBER!!!!! Both Flight plans and Sarwatch MUST be terminated, either by contacting an ATC unit by Radio or Telephone or if this is not possible ringing "The National Briefing Office" on 0800 626 756.
Failure to do this will cause a lot of people considerable annoyance and leave you with egg on your face which will be difficult to wash off.
15 EMERGENCY RADIO PROCEDURES
The radio is an invaluable tool when you are in trouble. Alerting others to your problem and position will save time and resources if a search is required. There are two Degrees of Emergency MAYDAY,MAYDAY, and PAN,PAN,
This call should be transmitted three times This is the top priority call and has priority over all transmitted calls.It can be transmitted on any frequency but should be transmitted first to ; the local ground station- such as CHCH CONTROL or the local area frequency or 121.5MhZ- the Emergency frequency. You must know the frequency for these areas and write them down before you enter the zone. YOU WILL NOT HAVE TIME TO LOOK FOR FREQUENCIES WHEN AN EMERGENCY OCCURS!
A MAYDAY call can be issued for any emergency where life is threatened. This may be an engine failure, a structural failure, a medical problem with the pilot in charge or a fire on board. When a MAYDAY call is transmitted the pilot should give as much of the following information as possible;
REMEMBER that the most important thing to do is concentrate on flying the aircraft. REMEMBER that if the emergency is reduced or cancelled tell the station you called.
This call,PAN,PAN, should be transmitted three times. The call is used for non-life threatening situations where others should be alerted to a problem you have that may worsen. Calls should be made to; the local ground station- such as CHCH CONTROL or the local area frequency or 121.5MhZ- the Emergency frequency. Such problems could be ;
While making an emergency transmission is very important ,it is also very important that you take measures to help searchers find you .You can help by;
An ELT currently operates on 121.5 and 243MHz but soon all ELTs will have to operate on 406 MHz and 121.5 MHz. ELTs can be manually activated or automatically activated on impact. If accidentally activated you must switch it off and notify the nearest ATC station immediately. It you wish to test your ELT. Switch your radio to 121.5 and activate your ELT ONLY IN THE FIRST 5 MINUTES OF ANY HOUR AND ONLY FOR 3 CYCLES. This should only be carried out inside a hangar or other radio signal shielded area. You should hear the signal on your radio. Automatic activation of the ELT may result from a heavy landing . Always check it after any heavy landing.
16 EMERGENCY LOCATER TRANSMITTERS (ELTs)
With effect from 1 July 2008, all microlight aircraft flying more than 10NM from the airfield must be fitted with a 406MHz ELT. The ELT may be a unit permanently fitted to the aircraft, or a PLB carried by the pilot.
Digital 406 MHz technology is vastly superior to the old anologue 121.5 MHz system. A 406 signal can be picked up in a mtter of minutes by a fleet of new satellites. Another important advantage of the 406 MHz beacon technology is that the 406 MHz beacon transmits a digital message containing the country code and a unique identity code for the beacon. The country code indicates the country where details of the beacon registration are held. This unique code can also identify the aircraft that the ELT is installed in, or in the case of a PLB the name and contact details of the person carrying the PLB. It is essential that the unique code entered in the ELT or PLB, together with the name and emergency contact details of the aircraft operator or owner is registered with the Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand (RCCNZ), and that any change in these details is also notified to RCCNZ.
16.1 Operating an ELT
Whatever type of ELT your have, it is important you understand how to activate it. Read the manual on your ELT and be sure you know how.
16.2 Checking an ELT activation
Just prior to shutdown after each flight, make a point of briefly scanning 121.5 MHz on your VHF radio in case your ELT has been activated by a hard landing. If so, switch the ELT off and advise the RCCNZ of the accidental activation.
16.3 Testing an ELT
An ELT may be tested for correct operation by manual activation within the first 5 minutes of the hour. The actual test method will depend on your particular model, but most involve pressing a TEST button with the results shown on a test indicator light. Be careful with this test, as during the test sequence the beacon will transmit on 121.5MHz. You may face an embarrassing telephone call and/or rescue bill. If in doubt- take it to an approved person for testing.
16.4 ELT maintenance
An ELT contains batteries which will deplete over time. Your ELT will require battery replacement every 2-3 years. Refer to your ELT manual or take it to an approved person for battery replacement. ELTs will require periodic maintenance checks by a appropriately qualified persons. The definitive detail of these requirements will be notified by CAA before the effective date in the form of an AC (Advisory Circular).
17 OTHER THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW.
The above text has been written specifically for the microlight pilot who usually flies outside controlled airspace. The following text is intended to highlight the additional knowledge required to fly in controlled airspace.
Transponders allow the positive identification of aircraft by a system where your aircraft is sent a signal that prompts your transponder to transmit a ‘Squawk’ Code which establishes your position, altitude, heading, and speed. At the beginning of each flight, individual aircraft are instructed to dial in a code which will identify them for that flight.
The Transponder has a multi-position switch labeled OFF, SBY , ON , ALT , TST.
The IDENT button will cause you image on the radar screen to flash. It must only be used when instructed by ATC.
Certain areas of controlled airspace are classed as "Transponder Mandatory Airspace". These areas are depicted on the charts by the Category and Class being in reverse print. Refer to the Planning Manual, RAC section. Before entering Transponder Mandatory Airspace you may be asked to dial up a specific code frequency by ATS. The action of dialing a requested frequency is called ‘SQUAWKING’.
Unless instructed otherwise by an ATS unit, all transponder equipped aircraft in Transponder Mandatory airspace must set a standard code as indicated below.
Emergency situations can be indicated to ATS by dialing your transponder to certain codes.
When dialing in a code into your transponder you MUST remember to switch to "Stand By" mode if passing through the 7000 series otherwise your transponder will lock on to 7500 and at your next stop you could get your tyres shot out. Also, do not operate the ‘IDENT’ feature unless instructed by ATC.
It is good practice to keep your transponder on in Mode C even when outside controlled or Transponder Mandatory airspace. This is because many commercial aircraft are fitted with TCAS systems which alert them to transponder equipped aircraft in the vicinity. This is good aviation practice, and helps with safety and separation.
17.2 Radio Frequencies
VHF transmission is relatively short range and is dependent on line of site. HF (High Frequency 3mHz -30Mhz) has a longer range as signals can 'bounce' off the surface of the Ionosphere and be reflected over a long range, however, bouncing does reduce signal strength and clarity. HF radios are a physically separate radio and are not used in microlights.
Information on airfield communications is defined in the AIPNZ(Aeronautical Information Publication NZ) This describes the area frequency, whether the station is manned or has radar and what approach and departure procedures are to be followed.
Aerodrome Flight Information Service is a service given by a field that is attended but is uncontrolled. If you fly to or in the vicinity of a field with this you must report to it. Your AIP GEN 3.3-3.4 will give details. At the time of writing the last AFIS at Milford has closed.
You must become familiar with your AIPNZ and it's use for any flights away from your home base.
Universal Communication (UNICOM) Services are at time of writing based at Ardmore Taupo and Mt Cook. They are not an Air Traffic Service. Information provided may include, current aerodrome information and conditions, basic weather and met reports. Aerodrome and Weather Information Broadcasts (AWIB) may also be provided. Refer to AIP GEN 3.4-3.3.14
Flight Information Service Communications New Zealand is segregated in to FISCOM areas. Each area has a specific frequency and on that frequency it is possible to receive VHF signals for the flight information service for that area. Best coverage is attained over 4000ft. These area charts can be found in the AIP GEN 3.4 Figure 2. Information on services provided can be found in AIP GEN 3.3-3.3.1, but any pilot IFR or VFR, controlled or uncontrolled, may use the service for any on route information and position reporting.
17.7 Loss of Radio
If you lose the use of your radio while flying VFR in uncontrolled airspace it may not be a great problem, but if it is lost in controlled airspace ATC may interpret this as a problem with your craft and instigate emergency procedures. If your radio is faulty and you are in controlled airspace you must keep away from busy areas, divert to the nearest landing point, clear of controlled airspace and inform ATC as soon as possible. If you have a cell phone, use it. Remember that you will be on radar as well and if you disappear from that ATC will be convinced you have a problem and call in emergency services. Make yourself visible, squawk 7600 if you have a transponder.
17.8 Communication Problems
If you think that your microphone is unservicable but you can receive there are approved ways of communication with another station. When you activate your transmit button you occupy the carrier frequency(ie 119.2MHz)and the base station knows someone is trying to transmit. If ATC suspects a problem they will ask you to activate your transmit button three times and then ask questions that have 'yes'/'no' answers. You respond by-
17.9 Light Signals
Where the pilot does not have radio communication and wishes to operate at an attended aerodrome he may receive light signals as follows:
Some basic responsibilities you have as Pilot in Command.
Exam questions can be found in the exam section