deaphen
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Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:05 pm

Hey i was wondering, is it possible to get any device (radio obviously) which allows you to hear all the communications between air traffic? I remember once to years ago, i was flying South West and on the headsets, on one channel, it was catching the pilot and his conversations with the atc and other aircraft, etc.
Is sucha device available? And if so is it legal? And another question, we see all these pictures taken of planes at their cruising altitute, with the photographer stating the Flight Level. How does he knwo this?

I ask mainly for commercial airliners.

Thanks
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BDKLEZ
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RE: Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:08 pm

I'm not a spotter so couldn't give you any sort of indication about portable radios, but you could try this when you're at home.

http://www.liveatc.net/

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Smalbany
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RE: Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:12 pm

Scanning radios are widely available at radio shack etc. You can get one that will scan aircraft frequencies quite nicely for around $100. Better ones can cost upwards of $500.

It is quite legal in the US but some localities have laws about using them in cars.

There is an effort under way right now to make all communications digital. When that happens, listening in will become much more difficult.
 
OPNLguy
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RE: Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:27 pm

Quoting Deaphen (Thread starter):
I remember once to years ago, i was flying South West and on the headsets, on one channel, it was catching the pilot and his conversations with the atc and other aircraft, etc.

It couldn't have been Southwest, since we don't have any kind of electronic IFE on our aircraft. It was most likely United, who does have ATC communications available on channel 9 of their IFE system.
ALL views, opinions expressed are mine ONLY and are NOT representative of those shared by Southwest Airlines Co.
 
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nighthawk
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RE: Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:31 pm

Quoting SmAlbany (Reply 2):
It is quite legal in the US but some localities have laws about using them in cars.

There is an effort under way right now to make all communications digital. When that happens, listening in will become much more difficult.

All you would need would be a digital reciever, unless of course the transmissions are encrypted.....

Listening to ATC broadcasts is illegal in the UK, its considered a "closed broadcast", however this is almost never inforced. Spotters regularly sit at airports with "scanners" in full view of police, who dont even bat an eye lid.

You might want to check the laws in your country, its more than likely illegal but not enforced.
 
bond007
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RE: Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:55 pm

Digital voice communination is years and years away. Data such as weather, clearances etc. will be digital first (VDL and all that for replacing ACARS).

All you need for ATC is a receiver capable of tuning 108-136 Mhz. Your local Radio Shack equivalent will have some. Uniden also make some good ones, as do many other manufacturers.

Now, of course, they cannot be used at any time on an airliner (well in the US at least).


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Nimish
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RE: Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Fri Jan 20, 2006 10:05 pm

Not sure which part of the world you're based in - but assuming you're in Chandigarh.

You need a airband receiver to listen into ATC communications. There's barely available in India - but you can buy them in teh US/UK (search on ebay for airband receiver or similar). I bought one for my use in the UK, and find it invaluable here in BLR. One thing to watch out for is that reception tends to be rather poor unless you're close to the airport (almost need line of sight!). It might be due to the concrete jungle that Bangalore has become, but it's just my experience.

Regarding legality - I would hope that it's legal to use in India (since I think a shop in BLR does sell these receivers - Hawk21M bought one from them). However if you're intent is to use it mainly at home, it should not be a problem (since it does not transmit any signals).

If you're interested - contact me directly via my profile and I can give you more details on prices etc.
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Smalbany
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RE: Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Fri Jan 20, 2006 10:41 pm

Quoting Nighthawk (Reply 4):
All you would need would be a digital reciever

Since the transmission is data, rather than digital voice, I don't know that there is a commercially available decoder that you can put on a scanner. I think that you would need to hook up your scanner to a computer like some people do with the ACARS data transmissions. This is quite a bit more cumbersome than switching on my handy little Icom R-2  Smile

Quoting Bond007 (Reply 5):
Digital voice communination is years and years away. Data such as weather, clearances etc. will be digital first (VDL and all that for replacing ACARS).

They are already providing this service at my local airport, ALB (at least clearance and ACARS). I know that switching all the current voice tranmissions to data is some time away - but it's coming I fear. I think that the limiting factor will be the cost of outfitting all the aircraft with the system.
 
fraspotter
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RE: Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Sat Jan 21, 2006 12:00 am

I remember that I was flying UA917 a Boeing 744 from FRA to IAD on 21 June 2005 and I could listen in on our pilot and other pilots talking to ATC people from JFK, BOS, and IAD. Quite cool.
MY favorite would have to have been when I heard a PIA captain talking to ATC going into JFK and he sounded a lot like Apu from "The Simpsons". It was hilarious... Big grin
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bongo
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RE: Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Sat Jan 21, 2006 12:21 am

Quoting Deaphen (Thread starter):
And another question, we see all these pictures taken of planes at their cruising altitute, with the photographer stating the Flight Level. How does he knwo this?

GPS. The GPS gives you the altitude, and you can have one even in the airplanes also for under $200.00
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HAWK21M
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RE: Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Sat Jan 21, 2006 1:46 am

A Radio Reciever needs no licence,However a Trans reciever does.
The IndUS Aviation storeat Blr stocks the M318A model.
About the Photographers knowing Altitude.If its during cruise,its normally announced or on the Pax Entertainment system or the FA can be asked.

regds
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deaphen
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RE: Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Sat Jan 21, 2006 3:39 am

thanks for your replies.
This though crept into my mind today when i was in school, i was looking up at the clear sky and i saw atleast 3 b747's pass over hear with real cool trails behind. And it just bugged me deep down inside that i didnt have my camera ready. They just look so beautiful against a crystal clear blue sky. For your guys information, i live in chandigarh, just north of new delhi, and i suppose that lots of international flights flying westwards from delhi fly over us. It just so cool cant explain it.
Is there any place online where i can find flight paths? all the trackers i have found work only in the USA, which is not much of a help to me.
Thanks
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mdl21483
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RE: Listening In On Pilot-atc Conversations

Sat Jan 21, 2006 6:46 am

Quoting Bond007 (Reply 5):
Digital voice communination is years and years away. Data such as weather, clearances etc. will be digital first (VDL and all that for replacing ACARS).

Our Military forces already have that covered- which is way beyond digital cell phone type technology... Transmitter & reciever codes don't match up, you dont hear much more than digital whistles & static. As for commercial aviation, probably won't need to worry about it for a long while due to the whole de-classification and civilianized implementation process involved.
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