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Note: Please note that and have merged. As a result, certain web page addresses have changed. Links to the Spectrum Management site have changed in particular. When reading the below information, refer to the Industry Canada web site

Industry Canada & Spectrum Management are here to answer questions on radios and frequencies; and to provide a couple of “news items on the topic.
This is a timely topic due to an increasing proliferation of Radio types and frequencies in the sport.

The HPAC has been issued two official frequencies for Air to Air and Air to Ground operations:
123.4 MHz - Aircraft Band for Soaring Purposes
and 173.64 MHz FM - for Hang Gliding Club Use

There are other radio types in use, including HAM and the Family Radio Service, but this article will begin by focusing on our two official channels.
Q’s come from the HPAC forum. Answers are from Spectrum Management.

See also Radio Lingo

Industry Canada allocated the following two frequencies to soaring in Canada for air to air or air to ground communications:

  • VHF 123.4 Mhz Aircraft Band and
  • 173.640 MHz for tracking operations on a shared non-interference basis.
  • CB (Civilian Band) is unregulated.

Many pilots using other radio types and frequencies. However there are disigned for cummunications between GROUND based units. Industry Canada has approached the HPAC in the past over "illegal" radio channel use by our pilots

We are running into problems where tourists are using radio types and frequencies other than those approved for use here in Canada. As an example, one frequency commonly used by USA pilots is allocated to the RCMP in Canada.

Pilots may be using a specified frequency at their home site, and then continue to use that frequency on road trips, without cross referencing to see if that frequency is allocated to another user, as is often the case, in other regions.

The USHGA purchased the right to use three business band frequencies in the USA.
These are: 151.625 151.925 151.955

France's Hang Gliding Association obtained 143.9875 Mhz on the 2m Ham band

Aircraft Radios

There are many benefits to using Aircraft band - often stated, but still worth repeating. It remains the easiest way to both file your HAGAR and get an up to date weather forecast. It allows you to land at some airports and to fly through uncontrolled airports.

Q: What licenses and fees apply to Aircraft Radios?
A. Aircraft Radios on board aircraft no longer require licensing fees or registration in Canada and the USA. A considerable cost savings over a lifetime.

From a licensing aspect, the radios on the ground require a license. “This becomes some what of a hard sell when you are likely dealing with the same portable piece of equipment either strapped to the pilot or used on the ground. Nevertheless, this is the current regulatory regime.”

Q. Do I still require a Radio Operator Certificate?
Yes. The Radio Operator Certificate is still a requirement for anyone who may be operating the aeronautical radio equipment, regardless of whether a radio license is required.

Q. How should I identify my hang glider, if I no longer require a radio license?
A. Non-registered aircraft, such as hang gliders or other soaring craft, should use any reasonable method that will allow for the identification of their station. We suggest that you use "Hang glider SURNAME" as a means of identification.

Q: Don't Regulations re aircraft radios discourage, if not prohibit, air to ground communication, unless the ground is a control tower?
A: No. Quite the contrary. Soaring purposes includes ground crew communications.

Q: Can additional frequencies be obtained for special events such as competitions? (One frequency gets jammed.)

A. It is possible to be granted authority by Industry Canada, on a short term basis, to use other aeronautical frequencies in the General Aviation Communication (GAC) band for hang gliding purposes during special events. For authorization of specific frequencies, the event organizer should contact the local office of Industry Canada well in advance of the scheduled event. (up to 60 days) As long as the frequencies to be used are for hang gliding operation and are in the aeronautical mobile band, there is no fee associated with this authority. If deemed necessary, Industry Canada may direct the event organizer to liase with a contact person in NavCanada with respect to coordinating this short term operation.

FM Radios

Q. Is there a Official FM Frequency for Hang Gliding in Canada?
A. Yes. 173.64 MHz is designated for “Hang Gliding Club Use.” It is a Private Commercial Band shared with the Canadian Ski Patrol and the Royal Canadian Golf Association and is restricted to 1.0 watts.

The reason no hang gliding is assigned on 173.64 is because FM radios require a license and no Hang Gliding clubs have bought a license.

Yep. You heard right.
Club are permitted to buy a bulk license for all radios in use by club members. Unlike other Commercial FM frequencies you are not restricted to local area use. This frequency is allocated for hang gliding Canada wide.

Q. Are there other FM Frequencies we can use?
A. The Department would be extremely reluctant to allocate any other such spectrum outside of the Aviation Band. Soaring is an aeronautical service and should have it's radio communication needs serviced from within the aeronautical bands. As a national group, if more frequencies are required then this should be sufficiently put together in a comprehensive letter of intent to the Department and possibly Nav Canada as well.

Illegal use of commercial FM frequencies is becoming an increasing problem in Canada. Many pilots use a local frequency but fail to realize that a commercial FM frequency is resold to many different companies in different regions of each province. Example: a business band sold in Kelowna will be resold in Kamloops.

Secondly, outside of 173.64, commercial FM frequencies are sold with the expectation that they will be used for ground based transmissions. As soon as you gain altitude the probability of interfering with other users increases.

The advantage of FMs the possibility to engage in idle chit-chat with flying buddies in the air. But once again, many pilots are using the radios illegally and ignorantly - they don't know that there are special frequencies for repeaters, special communications purposes, restricted frequencies, and the like. You can't just go picking any frequency and start talking. So the apparent infinity of channels that FM provides is only an illusion. You can legally transmit on just one frequency.

Spectrum Management
“I can't emphasize strongly enough except to say..... AMATEUR (HAM) RADIO EQUIPMENT CAN ONLY BE USED BY CERTIFIED AMATEUR RADIO OPERATORS. As we discussed, the process of becoming certified is quite arduous and time consuming. There are no regulations regarding altitude restrictions although the Amateur fraternity may have self imposed limits to help prevent interference.”

"We are highly dubious that all your members are meetingthe licensing requirements of Ham radio."

Using a Ham Radio Air-to-Air or Air-to-Ground IS NOT illegal. However the bottom line is that Spectrum Management feels that it is inappropriate to use Ham radios for flying. The problem stems from repeaters. Simplex repeaters may pick up your transmission and rebroadcast it on another frequency. These users would have no way of reversing the process to speak to you to say you are creating a problem.

With good antennas, Ham radios have excellent range - in excess of 100 km air to air without repeaters and on low power output. They have nifty new features such as APRS available which integrate GPS.

Family Radio Service
A New service for Radio users is the Family Radio Service FM UHF 450 MHz frequency range. This has 14 Channels, is restricted to a low: 1/2 watt power which is good for 3-5 km and would be applicable to teaching purposes or local soaring. There are no Licensing requirements or fees associated with its use.

For further information:
Visit the Industry Canada web site.
“The topic of radio communication is obviously a complex one. If anyone has any doubts or questions call any of our District Offices listed on our website.‘

Spectrum management does get out in their vans and hunt down evil radio abusers but in reality the radio usage is built on the honour system.

Very few Paraglider pilots have bought into Aircraft Radios. For HG / Pgers alike: if you are not calling in your HAGAR, don’t hold your breath waiting for the HPAC Insurance policy to pay out in the event of a mid-air. It won’t. Filing your HAGAR is like filing a flight plan: the legal minimum to warn other VFR / IFR aviators of your presence.

On an airway, airspace above 12,500 ASL is class B, 12,500 ASL down to 2200 AGL is class E, except a transition area (such as where there is an approach) and then class E goes down to 700 AGL. Below 2200 or 700, other than control zones, it is class G.

Mar 18 2008   Top Top