Radio and Mobile Phone use in Australia - Pilot Info
Pilot communications is an important safety factor in all aspects of flying.
Not only for pilot>pilot and pilot>ground but also to activate emergency services.
Australia has unique radio and mobile phone services which are not compatible wth those from other countries.
Radio - UHF CB 476/477Mhz
The Australian (and NZ) UHF CB radio system uses 80 channels at 12.5Khz spacing on the UHF band between 476-477Mhz. No license is needed and max output power can be 5 watts. All Australian pilots and flying sites use this system.
The 80 channels also have 16 repeater channels (output 1-8 & 41-48, Input 31-38 & 71-79) which have towers in most country areas with excellent coverage - they are very useful for emergencies as farmers and some emergency monitors listen to them. Do NOT use those repeater channels for pilot flying chat ! Also the Australian national road (Truckies) channel is ch40 - it can be used for emergencies as well.
The HGFA also has a national frequency and Manilla Paragliding has private channels in this UHF band.
You can buy cheap low power (0.5watt) 80ch CB radio's (Uniden, Oricom etc) from various retailers for around $100 but they will only cover the basic 80 public channels and not the extra HGFA and Manilla private channels.
Attention International Pilots ! The 2 metre VHF (and 70cm UHF) amateur radio's that operate on 144Mhz (and 430Mhz) are NOT compatible with this system and NO ONE uses 2m in Australia for flying communications. If you bring a 2m radio with you, you will not have anyone to talk to except your own pilot group. You also need a amateur license to legally use 2m 144Mhz radio's in Australia.
The European LPD radios (430Mhz band) can be used in Australia however no local pilots use that system and they are limited in range to just a few kms due to low output power.
Some multi-band Amateur radio's can be "opened" up to include the Australian 476/477 Mhz band but most cannot do it (Icom T90 and Yeasu VX5 can for example). Also these "opened up" multiband radio's suffer from low output power and bad reception due to out of tune antenna's which dont work properly on 476Mhz. .
Manilla Paragliding has ICOM UHF radios available for hire for A$5/day or $30/week and they include the HGFA and Manilla private channels (so you dont have to listen to farmers and truck drivers chatting). Contact Godfrey for details ... click here !
All 3G and GSM mobile phones work in Australia BUT ONLY ONE system has good network coverage away from the capital cities where you will fly XC.
ONLY the Telstra "Next G" system is recommended for use for XC pilots. DO NOT buy a pre-paid Vodaphone, Optus, Three or any other SIM card for your phone as you will NOT have network coverage in XC areas !!!! The NextG system is exclusive to Telstra - the others will not roam it.
Your phone must also be a quad band 3G phone which can use 850Mhz (many do not do this !). IPhone3G/4G, Blackberry and many Nokia's and other Smart Phones can do 850Mhz. You also need to use a Telstra NextG SIM card - they are available at all Post Offices for A$2 and you can load credit using your credit card by calling 1258888.
Manilla Paragliding has a limited number of pre-paid NextG mobile phones for hire A$5/day or $20 week. In combination with a UHF radio its $40/week for both. Contact Godfrey for details ... click here !
In case of EMERGENCY you must phone 000 (NOT 911 or 112 !!!)