Is there a standard way to test/check aircraft's radio without calling anybody (Ground/Tower) to see if it is receiving and transmitting?

Is there a way to check aircraft radio with your own handheld radio on the ground before takeoff? I am referring to small aircraft type like Cessna 172.

  • $\begingroup$ The easiest way to do it is to tune to an ATIS/AWOS frequency and make sure you can receive clearly. Many radios also have a way to override the automatic squelch to make sure you can adjust your receive volume correctly. Something like this video: youtube.com/watch?v=9LWpnGjQCis&t=5m0s As far as checking if you can Transmit, its kind of hard since you need someone to respond to you. Its pretty common to hear pilots on tower/ground frequencies asking for a mic check. Not sure if this is standard phraseology but it gets the point across $\endgroup$ Dec 17, 2016 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ How do you check if you are transmitting fine? $\endgroup$
    – pmoubed
    Dec 18, 2016 at 3:17
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Why would you not want to contact ground/tower? You could also use a hand-held radio and tune to an unused frequency... $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Dec 18, 2016 at 4:14
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with Ron. Why not contact ground/Tower? If you're at a controlled field, you're required to talk to them anyway if you actually want to go somewhere. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Dec 18, 2016 at 6:06
  • $\begingroup$ If you are going to use a handheld, it’s best to use the Unicom frequency for the airport. That’s what it is for. Or if it is busy, use the air-to-air frequency reserved for fixed-wing aircraft—122.75 (in the US). $\endgroup$
    – JScarry
    Dec 18, 2016 at 15:49

2 Answers 2


Here are some things you can do, there are probably more. I'm assuming you're mainly interested in checking COM, not NAV.

Controlled airport

Check if you can hear the ATIS, Ground or Tower; if you can, then at least you know you can receive. But you might as well just call Ground immediately and ask for a radio check. The correct phraseology in the US (see the Pilot/Controller Glossary) is "how do you hear me?":

Bowman Ground, N12345, radio check please. How do you hear me?

Uncontrolled airport

Listen to the AWOS, if there is one, to determine if you can receive. Ask UNICOM or another aircraft to give you a radio check. If none of those options are available then you can use a handheld airband transceiver to test. Tune it to the frequency you're listening on and click transmit a few times, as if you're turning on pilot-controlled lights (PCL). If you hear the clicks in your headset, you can receive. To test transmission, do the opposite: click the transmit button on the yoke and listen on the handheld.


You could call Approach, Center or FSS; try activating the nearest PCL (works best at night); tune and identify a navaid (that doesn't verify COM works, but at least you know something's working); listen to 121.5 (in the US, you should be doing that anyway) because there's usually some bored pilot asking for sports scores on it and some other equally bored pilot yelling at him to "stop talking on guard!".


As always, if you have any problems with transmitting or receiving do some basic troubleshooting first: check you have the correct radio selected; check you have the correct frequency; check the volume controls on your headset and/or panel; turn the squelch up/down/off; check your headset is plugged in correctly; if you have a right-seat passenger, see if they can hear/transmit; and anything else you can think of.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Clicking can also confirm transmission with pilot controlled lighting or when activating a SuperAWOS. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Dec 18, 2016 at 2:02
  • $\begingroup$ the link to correct phraseology is gone $\endgroup$
    – vitaly
    Jan 17, 2018 at 0:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @vitaly Thanks, the FAA has broken its links yet again. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Jan 17, 2018 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ @JWalters not sure how likely such issues are, but that wouldn't work to find problems where your PTT is working but audio isn't and your radio only transmits a carrier. $\endgroup$
    – Someone
    Dec 7, 2022 at 1:40

Just call clearance or ground or tower or CTAF and ask "Radio Check". They will acknowledge you if they hear you.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I mentioned in my question that without calling ground or tower. $\endgroup$
    – pmoubed
    Dec 18, 2016 at 3:16

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .