Sometimes airline pilots need to get in touch with their company while in the air, for example diagnosing cautionary messages or reporting a diversion. By what means is the communication channel established?

  • VHF / HF radio? If that's the case, who allocates the frequencies to each airline?
  • Satellite phone? (Are all aircrafts equipped with one in the cockpit?)
  • Something else?
  • $\begingroup$ I think I recall from reading other Q&As here that they do use satellite phone, but they might use other ways too though. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 14:06
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ HF, VHF/UHF. A lot here about air-ground communications with different means. Overall ITU manages the allocation worldwide. US: FCC (member of the ITU conference) allocates frequencies to ARINC (Aeronautical Radio, Inc.), and ARINC deals with operators. See also: N4JRI's page. ACARS in addition of voice. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 15:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Related (not duplicate): What means do airline ground staff have to converse with pilots in flight? $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Commented Apr 3, 2016 at 15:58

1 Answer 1


While enroute the primary communication with company is via ACARS. (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System)

This is a digital datalink system and is kind of like sending text messages. On modern aircraft like a B777 it operates on HF, VHF, or SATCOM so there is coverage almost anywhere in the world.

If the aircraft is close to an airport with a company frequency, regular VHF radio communication can also be used. Some airlines may even have company Peripheral stations (PAL) at certain locations so they can use a VHF radio to talk directly to Dispatch from hundreds of miles away.

In the USA, VHF company frequencies are allocated by Aviation Spectrum Resources, Inc. (ASRI) ASRI Ground Station Administration Service (AGSA)

SATCOM is also be used to make Satellite phone calls so we can talk directly to Dispatch or Maintenance from thousands of miles away. You can use pre-selected company numbers or manually enter any phone number.

Aircraft without SATCOM can use VHF or HF radios to contact ARINC (Aeronautical Radio, Incorporated) who can create a phone patch to any phone number. Aeronautical Radio, Incorporated (ARINC)

SATCOM phone number menu

Source: B777 Aircraft Operating Manual Volume 2 (2.23 Communications)

  • $\begingroup$ Great answer! If you would provide the source for your image, that would make it even better. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 17:43
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, I added the source. ( B777 Aircraft Operating Manual Volume 2 2.23 Communications) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 4, 2016 at 18:47

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