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I am a student pilot at ABX (YMAY) in Australia. It is a single engine aerodrome with three frequencies:

  • 123.25;
  • 125.80; and
  • the ATIS frequency

I live very close to the airport, directly under the base/final turn. Would I be able to purchase a handheld radio that I could use to listen to the ATC and practise my radio calls? Is it legal?

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    $\begingroup$ ICOM makes scanners that can receive that band, and they seem to sell them in Australia: icom.net.au/receiver_ic-rx7.html. May not be the cheapest option, but seems to answer the "can I" question. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Nov 23 '15 at 5:32
  • $\begingroup$ You should make basic research before considering asking on this website. It would have saved the first part of your question (possibility of purchasing), and perhaps the second part (legality explained in the notice or other documents provided with such purchase) $\endgroup$ – Manu H Nov 23 '15 at 9:26
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    $\begingroup$ Not a direct answer to your question, but take a look at liveatc.net $\endgroup$ – Wirewrap Nov 23 '15 at 11:55
  • $\begingroup$ For the questions about legality, range etc. you might try posting on ham.SE too, because those seem like general questions about radio use in Australia. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Nov 23 '15 at 14:12
  • $\begingroup$ You can use any basic scanner that includes the "aviation band" (AM) and has a squelch. As this is a receiver only, you won't have any legality question to solve. Icom and Yaesu are indeed good brands for radio hardware, but this is not required for such short distance. $\endgroup$ – mins Nov 23 '15 at 19:58
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An Aeronautical License issued by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is required in order to operate a handheld aviation-band VHF transceiver in Australia.

An aeronautical licence is issued to authorise a station that:

  • is not fixed to an aircraft;
  • is operated on aeronautical frequencies;
  • is operated for purposes relating to the operation of an aircraft, or airport or aerodrome operations; and
  • in relation to an aircraft includes a mobile station operated on board the aircraft or on the ground in communication with aircraft.

An aeronautical licence is necessary to authorise the operation of stations providing:

  • air traffic control services;
  • aerodrome radio information services;
  • private company radiocommunications; and
  • other airport or aerodrome services.

Reference: ACMA

The Australian-based recreationalflying.com tutorial website may also provide more useful information.

(Note: This applies for a transceiver -- i.e. transmit & receive -- rules may be different for receive-only).

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  • $\begingroup$ Receiving seems legal. Indeed transmitting (or owning a transmitter) on aviation frequencies is not permitted, unless you are authorized. $\endgroup$ – mins Nov 25 '15 at 21:06
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I'm sure it would be legal in Australia to buy a scanner to listen to the aviation band. If you want one that transmits you will probably need a license to operate it if not buy it, but then you really don't want to be transmitting anyway.

Personally I would not think it's worth the money. Listening can be interesting but it gets old quickly and you don't learn as much as you might expect - RT work makes more sense in context. My personal experience is that the hard part of RT is not knowing what to say but getting it out in the cockpit when you are also flying and navigating as the same time, and that only comes with experience.

If you are taking lessons why not ask if you can borrow a handheld radio from your training organization? They probably have one or two lying around.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'm sure it would be legal in Australia, what makes you say that? $\endgroup$ – falstro Nov 24 '15 at 9:55
  • $\begingroup$ Scanners are legal in most democracies, sometimes with a permit. They are for sale in australian pilot stores and ebay as well, so the balance of evidence would indicate it's legal to buy them. $\endgroup$ – GdD Nov 24 '15 at 10:30
  • $\begingroup$ @GdB I'm aware, but they are illegal in Germany and the UK. I think they're the only ones, however, it's still legal for pilots to buy secondary radios for use in flight, which is why you find them in pilot stores there as well. Especially given the heavy UK influences in Australia, it is a valid concern and I believe it warrants backing up the claim. I know LiveATC is broadcasting from all states in Australia, so I'm pretty sure you're correct, but still. $\endgroup$ – falstro Nov 24 '15 at 11:38
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    $\begingroup$ I'm not sure about Germany but scanners are legal in the UK. $\endgroup$ – GdD Nov 24 '15 at 11:53
  • $\begingroup$ I believe Germany and the UK have similar laws (I'm guessing you'll find them among the wiretapping laws), in that the devices as such are not illegal, but it's illegal to listen to air traffic frequencies unless you're involved in... well.. air traffic, and disseminate any information received to third party. They're idiotic laws, no doubt, that's not the point I'm trying to argue. $\endgroup$ – falstro Nov 24 '15 at 11:57

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