Tag Archives: Aviation Monitoring

Yaesu VX-3R: Monitoring ATC over a cup of coffee

While I have a number of amateur radio handheld radios, one of my favorites is the recently-discontinued Yaesu VX-3R.

Saturday morning, I took my father to the his local regional airport’s café (KHKY). It’s a frequent stop when I’m in town visiting.

While sipping coffee, talking with friends and watching GA aircraft land and take off, I tuned to the airport’s tower. It was a pretty busy morning air traffic-wise and it was fun to monitor communications from our table with a view of the runway.

While the little VX-3R lacks the power output of larger HTs, and doesn’t include digital modes like D-Star or DMR, it is dual-band (2M/70cm) and its wideband receiver covers the shortwave, FM and MW broadcast bands in a pinch. Best of all, the VX-3R is amazingly portable.

I take the VX-3R everywhere in my compact EDC (Everyday Carry) pack:

My Everyday Carry (EDC) pack, loaded with all of the essentials.

I’ve used this little radio while traveling (hitting local repeaters and even simplex), I’ve monitored live air support during a local forest fire, and, on a moment’s notice, even caught an ARISS contact.

This week, I decided it might make sense to purchase another VX-3R to carry in the glove compartment of my truck. Since I already know my way around this radio, and since I already have the software and programming cable through RT Systems--it seems to make sense.

I checked the price at Universal Radio only to find the following notice:

AVAILABILITY UPDATE:
This model is being discontinued. We expect one more shipment in late February which will fill our back-orders.  We are not accepting additional orders at this time.

DX Engineering, Ham Radio Outlet and GigaParts also show no stock.

I feel like $139 was a bargain for this versatile amateur HT.

Late last night, a “New Open Box” unit appeared on eBay for $119 shipped. The seller had 100% positive feedback, so I snagged it.

If you’re interested in the VX-3R, your best bet will be to check with radio retailers like Universal Radio and Ham Radio Outlet for used/demo units.

Of course, you might also follow a VX-3R search on eBay.

Post readers: Any other VX-3R owners in our community? Any other fans of monitoring ATC/aviation traffic?

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Update: Hoax Radio transmissions at Melbourne and Avalon airports

The Melbourne Airport (Source: melbourneairport.com.au)

The Melbourne Airport (Source: melbourneairport.com.au)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Phil Brennan, who writes:

Just a follow up from last week’s story regarding hoax transmissions on airline frequencies at Melbourne airports. An arrest has been made and, if found guilty, the person may face up to 20 years imprisonment. Heavy stuff. Here’s a link to the Aust Federal Police media release:


Man charged following unauthorised radio transmissions at Victorian airports

This is a joint media release with Airservices Australia and the Australian Communications and Media Authority

The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has charged a 19-year-old Rockbank (Victorian) man with serious offences related to the alleged unlawful interference with air traffic control and endangering the safety of aircraft at two Victorian airports.

The arrest follows an AFP-led investigation with the assistance of Airservices Australia, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and Victoria Police.

Between 5 September 2016 and 3 November 2016, there were 16 separate unauthorised radio transmissions at Melbourne Airport and Avalon Airport causing interference with air traffic control.

On 21 November 2016, the AFP arrested a man and subsequently charged him with:

  • four counts of endangering the safety of aircraft contrary to Section 25(2)(b) of the Crimes (Aviation) Act 1991 (Cth); and
  • one count of interference likely to endanger safety or cause loss or damage contrary to Section 194 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (Cth)

The man is scheduled to appear before the Melbourne Magistrates Court this afternoon.

The AFP’s head of Crime Operations, acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan said this arrest demonstrates how law enforcement takes the safety of the airline industry very seriously.

“The current security measures in place for the airline industry are robust, and the traveling public should be reassured we are treating this matter appropriately,” acting Assistant Commissioner Chris Sheehan said.

“These incidents were thoroughly investigated by the AFP with the technical support of Airservices and the ACMA.

“The offences this 19-year-old man faces carry a maximum penalty of up to 20 years imprisonment.”

“The AFP also acknowledges the close working relationship with Qantas and Virgin Australia Group and the assistance provided particularly during the early stages of the investigation,” he said.

Airservices said there is no current threat to the safety and security of the travelling public as a result of these alleged radio transmissions in Victoria.

“Airservices worked closely with the AFP throughout this investigation to ensure the safety and security of the travelling public,” Airservices Southern Operations Manager Steven Clarke said.

“Airservices has appropriate procedures, processes and systems in place to ensure the safety of aviation operations at Melbourne and Avalon airports, and across the country and for the travelling public,” Mr Clarke said.

The ACMA uses a range of technologies and techniques to investigate and locate the sources of unauthorized or interfering transmissions across the radio frequency spectrum.

The ACMA reminds members of the public that making unauthorised transmissions may constitute a serious offence under the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (Cth).

https://www.afp.gov.au/news-media/media-releases/man-charged-following-unauthorised-radio-transmissions-victorian-airports

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Hoax Radio transmissions at Melbourne and Avalon airports

The Melbourne Airport (Source: melbourneairport.com.au)

The Melbourne Airport (Source: melbourneairport.com.au)

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Phil Brennan, who writes:

Your readers might be interested in this article from today’s Guardian

Hoax radio transmission at Melbourne airport forces plane to abort landing

Police are investigating 15 incidents of illegal radio transmissions with aircraft at Melbourne and Avalon airports, including hoax calls that forced at least one aircraft to abort its landing.

In a statement issued on Monday night, the Australian federal police said there had been “unlawful interference with air traffic control broadcasts over several weeks”.

Audio obtained by the ABC revealed that, during one of the calls, the hoax caller pretended to be the pilot of a light aircraft as he spoke to an air traffic controller.

“I can see you there now. Roger your mayday. Could you please advise what your situation is,” the air traffic control operator asks.

“Engine failure,” the hoax caller replies. “Descending passing through 4,500.”

In another incident a Virgin Australia flight en route from the Gold Coast to Melbourne was forced to change course under the instruction of the hoax caller transmitting from an unknown location, the ABC reported.

Continue reading…

Such behaviour could have disastrous consequences.

You’re right, Phil. It angers me to no end when people intentionally cause interference or disrupt operations at airports. So many lives depend on air traffic control and flight communications systems.

Thank you for sharing.

 

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Real-time Flight Status And Radar For All US/Canada Flights

FlightAwareFor those who receive (and send) flight data from ADS-B capable devices such as the RTL-SDR dongles or have Apps for their tablets and phones, FlightAware announced on Wednesday this change to their service:

Hi from FlightAware,

After months of development, we released a large upgrade to our back-end flight tracking engine on Tuesday. Not only did the upgrade include dozens of bug fixes and flight tracking improvements, but we added a massive enhancement for US and Canadian flight tracking — the flight status and radar data is now live with no more five minute delay! Previously, the US/Canada data feed contained a five minute delay in addition to our ~30 second processing time, but now all data is less than a minute delayed from real time. In addition to the general improvement, this yields a lot of additional benefits:

  • More seamless transition between RADAR, ADS-B, and MLAT positions
  • Flights will no longer transition from “Arriving soon” to “Arrived 5 minutes ago”
  • Fewer estimated positions due to delayed RADAR data

Now that the radar data in the US and Canada is real-time, we’ll soon be enabling public MLAT data in the US, which is real-time just like our ADS-B data.

This is a major upgrade in data for folks in North America, and it will make using programs like PlanePlotter even more useful!

For those who might be interested in building their own dedicated ADS-B receiver, information may be found here. Of course FlightAware may be used as an online flight checking service just for tracking the progress of a given flight, which is in itself a lot of fun!

Robert Gulley, AK3Q, is the author of this post and a regular contributor to the SWLing Post. Robert also blogs at All Things Radio.

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