The skies above Australia can get busy. Really busy. As in, there are more than 13,000 fixed and rotary wing aircraft registered in Australia performing every task from commercial passenger and freight transport, to flying ambulances, and pipe and powerline patrols.
Regardless of their size or function, what all these aircraft have in common is their ability – and the absolute necessity – to communicate both with the ground as well with each other.
That very specific range of VHF frequencies used in aviation communications is known as airband frequencies; and if pilots didn’t have the best equipment to access them reliably, modern aviation as we know it wouldn’t be possible.
Needless to say, the radios used in airband communications have to be just as specialized as the frequencies and protocols used on them; and one manufacturer of airband radios has amassed an unmatched reputation for keeping the skies safe by keeping the communications convenient.
Radios you can count on
Founded in 1954 as a manufacturer of medical equipment; Icom produced its first amateur ham radios in 1964 before going on to produce its first handheld airband radio, the IC-A2, in 1985. Considered today, however, to be one of the world’s most experienced manufacturers of two-way radio equipment, the cutting-edge Icom radio is now eponymous with faultless air-to-air and ground-to-air communications. Icom’s built its reputation for reliable and convenient aviation communications around three basic radio types:
Icom’s VHF handhelds are the trusted choice for beginner and experienced pilots who either fly aircraft that aren’t equipped with panel-mounted radios, who’re tasked with flying multiple aircraft, or who simply want the added assurance of always having a trustworthy back-up radio with them should the need arise.
Ground crews and recreational aviation enthusiasts also appreciate these tough, lightweight Icom radio handhelds especially when operating in or around uncontrolled airspaces. From the hard-working IC-16 to the high end IC-25; these respectively IP67/IP57 dust and water rated handhelds all feature 6W output, a hefty 1500mW speaker and ANL noise reduction, making them ideal radios for use in less-than-ideal environments.
Available in either COM only or full COM/NAV configurations with GPS and VOR, these transceivers also feature built-in Bluetooth, 8.33/25kHz channel spacing, up to 300-channel memory, flip-flop channel recall, and one touch emergency channel access, making programming and in-flight operation effortless. With their compact size, straight-forward interfaces, and long-life lithium batteries, Icom’s family of handheld transceivers are the pinnacle of portable communications.
Icom’s IC-A200 family of panel-mounted radios are venerable, longtime favourites with light and experimental aircraft operators; and its latest iteration, the IC-A220, continues that tradition. Boasting an 8W transmission output, these remote-controllable radios can accept power from either 12V or 24V DC sources, and are perfect bolt-ins for compact aircraft installs.
With large OLED displays, ANL noise reduction, and automatic squelch and voice-activated intercom functions, they also feature standard 8.33/25kHz channel spacing, flip-flop channel recall, one touch emergency channel access, and dual-watch functionality to allow the simultaneous monitoring of two channels.
These transceivers can also store up to 20 channels in memory, up to 50 group channels, up to 20 history memory channels, and up to 10 GPS memory channels if connected to an external GPS receiver.
Suffice it to say, these TSO certified radios are built no less intuitively for use in aircraft as they’ve been built sturdily for use in ground vehicles. When set up for use by ground crews, complete VHF base station and mobile kits including external speakers, antennas power supplies and mounting hardware are also available.
Ground station radios like Icom’s IC-A120 are designed to be the desktop and vehicle-mounted communication workhorses for ATC’s and other ground crew personnel working small airfields, or mobile command and control centres.
Rated IP54 for dust and water resistance, these powerful 36W transmitters are also 12V or 24V DC compatible and built to withstand the rigors of open-air environments. ANL and ANC noise reduction and noise cancelling are standard features, along with 8.33/25kHz channel spacing, 200 channel memory and with dual-watch and ON-hook scan functions.
Rounded out with built-in side tone functionality and Bluetooth capability, these radios can also utilize Icom’s VE-PG3 RoIP gateway to connect with other radio systems and devices. As is the case with panel-mounted Icom radios, complete VHF base station and mobile kits are available for the IC-120.
Accessories that matter
Icom also offers a huge range of accessories for their radio equipment that’s serviceable across their entire line of communications products. From extra battery packs, chargers, and holders for handheld radios to power supplies, cabling, and microphones for their ground-based units, the Icom product lineup reflects a commitment to ensuring that all of their radios and accessories integrate seamlessly with each other.
With interoperability and scalability ultimately being at the heart of any radio-frequency solution, Icom’s been a leader in two-way communications for a long time, and they’re poised to maintain that position well into the future.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you’re a pilot or part of a ground crew – reliable communications are absolutely critical to every aspect of what’s happening.
It’s a matter of both personal and public safety and relying on equipment that isn’t capable of performing at its best at all times simply isn’t an option. Whether it’s in the air or on the ground, an Icom radio of quality can be counted on to perform flawless every time; and they have a long and proven reputation of safety, reliability and innovation to back it up.
When you’re ready to purchase your next airband radio, speak with an Icom dealer about what’s the best solution for you.