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I am part of an organisation which regularly flies high-powered rockets, and thus files a TFR when we do so prohibiting aircraft from the area where we launch these rockets up to 10,000 ft. This TFR is frequently violated, presumably unintentionally, requiring that we stop our current launches and wait for the aircraft to leave. However, there are sometimes situations where an aircraft sees the rockets and seemingly comes to investigate or remains within the airspace as they are oblivious.

Would someone on the ground with a handheld air band radio be allowed to communicate with these aircraft to warn them that they are violating a TFR? Would that be permissible on guard, or would there be a different, more appropriate frequency? I am not an aviator so I am not sure if I could read a VFR chart to determine if there is a local frequency.

A further scenario that I am curious about ground use of the guard frequency would be in the case of witnessing a plane crash, if per chance you had an air band radio would it be appropriate to radio the location of the crash to any listening controllers/aircraft, or is this prohibited?

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    $\begingroup$ Hi Goulash, welcome to Aviation.SE! Is there a reason that your organization is able to file TFRs but not able to determine whether an appropriate radio frequency exists? I'm not asking maliciously, I'm just surprised that the responsible party for the TFR wouldn't have or be able to determine that information already. $\endgroup$
    – Steve V.
    Aug 22 at 4:22
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    $\begingroup$ I have no idea, I'm not involved with the organisational side at all, I'm just involved in the rocketry side of it. I'm only asking this question out of personal curiosity, not for advice to give to the organisation. My curiosity comes from a tangential interest in aviation and radio communications. It's certainly possible someone within the organisation who is responsible for filing the TFRs already knows the answer to this question, but I don't know who to ask and I still figured here would be a good place to get some good insight about rules for non-aircraft use of aviation frequencies. $\endgroup$
    – Goulash
    Aug 22 at 4:31
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    $\begingroup$ Fair enough, it's a good question and I'm interested to learn the answers as well! $\endgroup$
    – Steve V.
    Aug 22 at 4:33
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    $\begingroup$ Assuming this is for amateur rocket launch, for US/FAA these TFR are managed like described in JO 7400.2 section 31. A waiver is granted by FAA, it should contain instructions for preventing intrusions, possibly a live contact with ATC (31−2−7) or a specific frequency announced in the activation NOTAM (31−2−8). Have you seen this waiver or a NOTAM? $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Aug 22 at 10:29
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    $\begingroup$ @alephzero I'm not quite sure I'd say they impersonated ATC. The easyJet crew first called the tower to report the situation, saying "Tower, there is a traffic landing 09R," and then realizing the urgency of the situation called for the go around themselves: "Go around 09R go around." That's less impersonation of ATC and more one pilot addressing the other aircraft directly. $\endgroup$ Aug 22 at 23:58
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At least in the "jurisdiction" I'm somewhat familiar with, EASA and my country, licences are required for both the radio device and the operator of the radio. The training required for personal licence is not that hard, consisting of legal stuff, theory and learning the standard phraseology for radiotelephony. Once the personal licence is acquired, one can apply for a device licence and then puchase one, or use one already belonging (and licenced) by the organization.

I see no reason why your organization could not acquire licences and devices to monitor the airspace and communicate intentions and issue warnings to nearby aircraft. I'm actually quite surprised you do not have means of communication with other users of the airspace...

Caveat: your local laws and regulations may differ from mine, but generally I see a need to ensure flight safety by your organization being licenced for use of airband radios.

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    $\begingroup$ "licences are required for both the radio device and the operator of the radio" This is no longer required for pilots in the U.S. (though, of course, they still need to get a radio operator license if they intend to fly outside of the U.S.) Pilots can (and frequently do) purchase handheld airband radios from all sorts of stores (online and otherwise) with no license requirement. I'm not sure about the legality of this for non-pilots, but I'd be a bit surprised if it's illegal since student pilots don't actually require any sort of license until they're ready to solo. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Aug 23 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ You should make that an answer regarding U.S. $\endgroup$
    – Jpe61
    Aug 23 at 5:09
  • $\begingroup$ Well, it doesn't technically answer the question, since I'm not actually sure (and don't have a source off-hand) about the requirements for non-pilots, which is what the question is asking about. I've followed the question, though, and if no one that already knows the answer answers it first, I'll look into it. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Aug 23 at 5:12
  • $\begingroup$ @reirab US pilots in US aircraft in US airspace are “licensed by rule”, meaning they don’t need an individual FCC license. Passengers (including students) can also use a radio under the supervision of someone licensed, including “by rule”. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Aug 24 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ @StephenS Someone on the ground with an air-band radio, not in an aircraft, can't claim to be licensed by rule. $\endgroup$
    – rclocher3
    Aug 24 at 21:40
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As a former FAA ATC'er, National Association of Rocketry high-power Level 3 certificate holder, and the facility approver guy for high-power rocketry waivers in our facility airspace, if you are in the USA, you do NOT have a temporary flight restriction (TFR) for your rocket launch, but instead you have an FAR waiver and a notice to airmen (NOTAM). This merely informs the public that launch activities are taking place. Pilots are not precluded from flying through the NOTAMed airspace, therefore they have not violated anything, and transmitting a violation would be wrong, in addition to the FCC issues already mentioned.

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    $\begingroup$ This seems like a credible answer, and presuming it is correct, highlights that @Goulash would be advised to ensure that they and other members of their rocketry club have a complete understanding of rights and responsibilities regarding deconfliction with GA. Because presuming a TFR is in effect could very well be completely wrong! (although it sounds like they are playing it safe...) $\endgroup$ Aug 23 at 16:52
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    $\begingroup$ There are two high power rocket sanctioning bodies in the US: NAR (mentioned above) and Tripoli. Both organizations require that immediately prior to launch, the airspace is clear and will remain so during the launch/recovery. If you examine the airspace and see an aircraft coming, you don't launch. If an aircraft is loitering as mentioned by the OP, you wait until they are gone. $\endgroup$
    – RetiredATC
    Aug 23 at 23:57
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Speaking from my Canadian experience: You require a radio operator's license to transmit on frequencies used in aviation. Getting a license involves passing a knowledge test, after which the license is good for life. The required knowledge to pass the test would probably answer all of your questions. As I recall, it was a pretty easy test to pass. Among other things, you would learn how to structure your messages to make your communications concise and effective.

"Guard" frequency should be for emergencies only. I would imagine that no-one will object to a bystander using the guard frequency to alert search and rescue to a genuine emergency, licensed or not, but I'm not sure intrusion into a restricted area qualifies as an emergency. Anyway, pilots generally don't monitor the guard frequency as a matter of routine, so you should not expect an intruder to receive a warning issued over it. In many places there are enroute frequencies which pilots should be monitoring when not in controlled airspace or in an area where a specific frequency has been assigned. Your best bet would be to issue your warning on one of them. In Canada, those frequencies are 126.7 and 122.8.

FWIW, and again from my Canadian perspective, licensing is required to operate any radio transmitter in Canada, with certain exemptions, such as low power devices... at least that's the way it used to be.

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    $\begingroup$ " pilots generally don't monitor the guard frequency as a matter of routine" also there may well be NORDO traffic up there! $\endgroup$ Aug 22 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ Pilots do no require any radio operator license to transmit on aviation frequencies in the U.S. This hasn't been a requirement in the U.S. for decades (presumably because all of the relevant radio knowledge is already covered in pilot training, so it's rather redundant for pilots.) It's completely legal for pilots to purchase and transmit with either handheld aviation radios or ones built into aircraft with no radio operator license here. I'm not sure about the legal situation of this for non-pilots, though. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Aug 23 at 4:29
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    $\begingroup$ @reirab In Spain, licensed boat captains do not require a separate radio operator license to transmit on maritime frequencies either... because the captain license already allows them to do so. Maybe it is the same for US pilots? They do not require a radio op license because their pilot license "includes" one? $\endgroup$
    – walen
    Aug 23 at 7:44
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    $\begingroup$ @walen That's not the way it works in the United States. Pilots on board aircraft are allowed to transmit by virtue of the fact that they're on board aircraft, not by virtue of the fact that they have pilot's licenses. Getting a pilot's license doesn't grant any radio privileges. $\endgroup$ Aug 23 at 8:42
  • $\begingroup$ @TerranSwett Nice to know, thanks. $\endgroup$
    – walen
    Aug 23 at 8:43
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In the US, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) makes the laws and enforces them for radio communications, not the FAA. The laws are contained in 47 CFR § 87.

Section 87.18 says, "An aircraft station is licensed by rule and does not need an individual license issued by the FCC" (the sentence continues with information not relevant here). So people in an airplane don't need a license to talk on an air band radio. You however are not in an aircraft, so in order to use an air band radio, you would need an FCC license.

In order to get an license to use the FCC's "Aviation Services" (the legal use of radios on aviation bands in the US), you would need to know exactly what kind of station license you're applying for. There are many different types of stations, which are all specified in detail. See 47 CFR § 87.5 - Definitions. I counted about 25 different types of station. Here are some examples:

Aeronautical advisory station (unicom). An aeronautical station used for advisory and civil defense communications primarily with private aircraft stations.

Aeronautical enroute station. An aeronautical station which communicates with aircraft stations in flight status or with other aeronautical enroute stations.

Aeronautical multicom station. An aeronautical station used to provide communications to conduct the activities being performed by, or directed from, private aircraft.

Aeronautical search and rescue station. An aeronautical station for communication with aircraft and other aeronautical search and rescue stations pertaining to search and rescue activities with aircraft.

The way to apply for any of the Aviation Services licenses (besides the basic aircraft station license for which no license is required) is to register with the FCC's Universal Licensing System (ULS), and then file a license application electronically there, which will be the equivalent of the old Form 601.

If you were to witness a plane crash, your radio on the ground may have a difficult time talking to another station on the ground, because of obstacles between the two antennas. Air traffic controllers might not welcome kibitzing "civilians" who aren't familiar with their procedures on their frequency. Calling 911 (emergency services) on the phone would probably be more appropriate.

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