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Author Topic: Is it possible to listen to ATC-pilot communication while on commercial flight?  (Read 44940 times)
Lacsa660
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« on: September 17, 2012, 11:13:46 PM »

I'm flying next month (on A380 in biz class) and would love to hear the comms between the pilots and ATC.

Would a portable handheld scanner work?  Uniden Bearcat BC72XLT Scanner?  http://www.scannermaster.com/Uniden_Bearcat_BC72XLT_Police_Scanner_p/01-500882.htm

Where I could find the channels for JFK ground, tower, departure.  And Dubai approach, tower, ground?

Thanks in advance.
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StuSEL
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« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2012, 02:11:55 AM »

The fuselage of the aircraft blocks signals from entering the cabin, and therefore a handheld scanner won't do you any good, except when you're in the terminal outside the aircraft. You can find the frequencies for air traffic control positions on airnav.com. I'm not sure where you might find them for Dubai.
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CFII
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« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2012, 07:33:13 AM »

I'm flying next month (on A380 in biz class) and would love to hear the comms between the pilots and ATC.

Would a portable handheld scanner work?  Uniden Bearcat BC72XLT Scanner?  http://www.scannermaster.com/Uniden_Bearcat_BC72XLT_Police_Scanner_p/01-500882.htm

Where I could find the channels for JFK ground, tower, departure.  And Dubai approach, tower, ground?

Thanks in advance.


I **believe** that the A380 has the option of listening to the ATC as an in-flight entertainment, thus, no need of a scanner. I am not sure about that, so, someone correct me if I am wrong!
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ctbehm
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« Reply #3 on: September 19, 2012, 12:38:08 PM »

United will let you listen but not untill you are up in the air. 10k plus if I remember correctly.
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dave
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« Reply #4 on: September 19, 2012, 10:26:51 PM »

United still has ATC on Channel 9 on their in-flight audio entertainment system.  This is typically only on actual United-flown flights, not code-share flights.  But it is entirely at the airline captain's discretion as to whether Channel 9 will be on, and I have heard that it is being offered on fewer and fewer flights.  My own experience bears this out.  When it's on it is typically on from taxi to takeoff, and then en route to landing/taxi at the destination.  Like other audio, it gets interrupted when the flight attendants or the captain decide to talk to passengers over the audio system.

If you decide to bring a scanner, your best bet is to bring a Bearcat scanner that features Close Call [tm] RF capture technology.  The BC125AT is a relatively inexpensive scanner that has Close Call [tm].  With Close Call [tm] you won't need to know what frequencies to track/tune because the scanner will detect the pilot's transmission and lock onto that frequency automatically.  I've done this with some success but it gets a bit boring since you usualy can't hear the controllers, unless you're in a window seat and can place the scanner near a window.  Even then, RF noise from airplane electronics will usually mask any outside signals and make your listening experience pretty miserable.  smiley  Also, do not be surprised if a flight attendant tells you to turn that radio off or ask you what it is.  It's more trouble than it's worth, but good luck.

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RonR
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« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2012, 11:35:48 AM »

I once flew from JFK to LAX and brought my handheld scanner with me.  I had a window seat and it helped with reception.  The cockpit would come in loud and clear but for the most part you couldn't hear the ground station unless you were right on top of it.  I used a small earphone and kept the scanner in the seat pocket in front of me.  I was able to listen all the way across the country because the pilot was kind enough to read back the next center frequency each time.  It made the trip a lot shorter Smiley

Ron
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phil-s
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« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2012, 10:48:30 PM »

LACSA 660,eh. My favorite flight. Took it many times in the 80s and 90s. Once got into JFK at 4 AM, after we sat in Guatemala waiting for a window replacement.  Vos sos Tico, por casualidad? Bienvenidos al forum.
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falstro
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2012, 03:56:30 AM »

As always, keep in mind that listening to ATC radio traffic might very well be illegal in the country you're flying to. Even carrying an unlicensed (in the country you're currently in) radio capable of receiving ATC radio frequencies could get you in trouble. I know this for a fact in Germany (the same make and model may be available on the German market, but unless this particular radio has a special I-may-be-used-in-germany-sticker on it, you should hide it well, don't think it's actually illegal to just carry though, but using it definitely is), have no idea about Dubai.
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verbatim
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« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2012, 09:40:34 AM »

Hi Lacsa660

i would recommend you Black-Box-MKII Airband Passive Receiver

https://www.scannermaster.com/Black_Box_MKII_Airband_Passive_Receiver_p/50-281704.htm

no tunning need, small and discreet.

Saludos
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johnbclark
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« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2012, 03:08:31 PM »

I had the opportunity to fly from MEM to LGA a while back - brought my iPod Touch with the LiveATC app and, with the wi-fi on board (and some preflight research), was able to listen enroute. Unfortunately, you don't get service until @ cruising, so you miss takeoff/landing, taxi...

(Plug for the home site  wink)
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Lacsa660
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« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2012, 12:28:53 AM »

I had the opportunity to fly from MEM to LGA a while back - brought my iPod Touch with the LiveATC app and, with the wi-fi on board (and some preflight research), was able to listen enroute. Unfortunately, you don't get service until @ cruising, so you miss takeoff/landing, taxi...

(Plug for the home site  wink)
Yep, that's exactly what I was going to do.  Great minds think alike.... I got the app and I will be on my cell network (not WIFI) so I will be able to hear the ground and tower for takeoff.  Dubai is not one of the airports listed in the app, so nothing on landing. 

Thanks,
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Lacsa660
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« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2012, 03:50:02 PM »

In case anybody is interested, I'm the person who started this topic.  I did fly JFK-Dubai on the 380 in early November and then back to JFK this past weekend.

Anyway, using the LiveATC app on my Iphone, I was able to listen by using my cell signal on the ground, the takeoff, and up to the handoff.  I heard the tower clear us for take-off and even up when we got handed off to departures, but then we got too high and the cell signal got lost.  The wi-fi onboard sucked big time (don't waste your money on Emirates wi-fi) so nothing en route.  On the way back, I didn't hear the landing clearance as we were too high yet to pick up the cell signal.  I did hear the taxi instructions once we landed on 31L.

Oh, I did hear an interesting thing with the plane that landed right after us.  It was American 67 (I think)  heavy I think.  Basically, I heard the tower clear him to land, caution him about wake turbulance following our 380 Super, and advised him that emergency vehicles are standing by.  That caught my attention.  As we were completing our landing roll and I saw a lot of emergency behicles with lights heading towards the front end of 31L.  Once they landed, they were handed off to Ground and I heard the pilot talking to Rescue1, one of the emergency vehicles.  He was asking them to inspect the landing gear and tires.  I guess they had some kind of an issue inflight/takeoff because they immediately stopped on the runway and just stood there waiting for emergency crews.  Nothing was damaged so they them got off the runway and proceeded to the ramp.  I thought some of your ATC fans might find that interesting.

So, the point of this post is to let people know that it is possible to listen to ATC-pilot chatter while in the airplane.  All you need is a cell phone and the app.  But it will only work on the ground, up to ~1000 feet maybe.  If the onboard wi-fi is good, maybe it will work en route too.
 
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jerry814
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« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2012, 05:02:27 PM »

In the USA, you "can" listen to a scanner or other radio in-flight, but it is illegal to do so. When the Flight Attendant sees those earbuds, especially during the flight below 10,000 feet, the FA will ask you to turn the device off AND STOW IT. When they see it is a scanner or radio, I can assure you they make a note of your seat number and face. If those earbuds reappear and they discover you have an unauthorized device on, they will take it away from you, may inform you that you have just committed a federal offence, and you may get that interview in that special room with Law Enforcement upon your arrival. Remember, disobeying the orders of a flight crewmember is a federal offence too.  It can be a danger to aircraft radio as all modern electronic devices emit some RF, and they can emit right on an important radio frequency.  Just don't do it, it is not worth it.
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ferraraj
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« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2012, 06:03:44 PM »

PRE- 9/11 - I used to choose to fly UAL primarily to have the possibility of CH 9 (CH 14 on the 744s!)  being "on"...in fact I got into the habit of popping my head into the cockpit during boarding (after asking of course!) to ask the capt. if he'd turn it on...90% of the time they were more than willing to do so, esp if they knew folks would listen. Some of the best was on international flights to NRT, LHR, GIG,...listening to Anchorage Ctr over the Arctic or getting radar contact over the Aleutians, or hearing Gander Ctr then Shanwick into London or Brazillia Control over the Amazon, etc. Great stuff. One flight, I even convinced them to pipe in the HF...position reports were fun on long flights... I would bring charts with me (in fact several times the pilots GAVE me old charts to follow along with!). It really passed the time on 10+ hour flights and I learned a lot listening to the comms. On another flight to Tokyo once, the 2nd officer would break in on Ch 9 to narrate to the passengers to explain our location or other flight details. In addition, I would also often have a scanner (old hand-held Bearcat 100XLT) that I'd prop in the window. I did this literally all over the world (China, Germany, Australia, etc..) on other airlines from ~1997-2001... Hearing the ground was tough en-route but when flying overhead the transmitter it could be heard, but on approach it was easy. I RARELY had anyone ask me what I was doing - even waiting at the gates listening to the tower/gnd/approach wherever I was...only once or twice did I have an FA on-board to tell me to put it away, and I would. Unfortunately POST 9/11...I'd prob be arrested for doing such things on board. I still carry the radio with me in my bag since I use it at my destinations (and still at the gate sometimes) to listen to the action, I don't pull it out on board anymore. And you're right...ear-buds attract attention! The few times I've traveled on UAL last few years, usually ch 9 is OFF. Although I still try to pop my head in the cockpit while boarding to ask the left-seat, more often than not the answer is NO. Too bad. Flying used to be so much more fun. I guess we can say that about a lot of things now...
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porterjet
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« Reply #14 on: December 31, 2012, 09:12:40 AM »

When you are at your hotel in Dubai....
Delivery- 120.35
Ground- 118.35
Tower- 118.75 and 119.55
Arrival- 124.9
Director 127.9
Departure- 126.2 (N), 121.02 (S)
ATIS- 131.7

Handheld radio's are typically illegal or need a permit in much of the Middle East. Don't know about Dubai specifically.
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Lacsa660
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« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2013, 02:59:24 PM »

Hi all,
Last weekend, I had another flight from JFK to Dubai.  Again in the 380.

And I again I was able to use the Iphone app to listen to comms between the plane and ATC (JFK Tower).  There was no problem in connectivity.  It works great on the ground and up to the handoff to the departures controller after takeoff.  Then the cell signal is lost.  And as far as hiding it, that's pretty easy in business.  You have almost like a little "cubicle" space with lots of little spots to put your device in so to not be seen by a passing by FA.  Yes, the ear buds are hard to hide.  But they look like Ipod ear buds, so nothing too suspicious and the FA's are all seated by the time you are taxiing towards the runway anyway.

I did have a brief panic moment this time though.  As we are taxiing towards 31L, we are told to hold short.  And we did for about 30 seconds.  Then without any other word from ATC, we start turning onto the runway.  And we don't just lineup, we turn onto the runway and as soon as the front wheel hits the centerline, we are rolling.  (As an aside, for some reason, every 380 I have flown on has never lined up like most planes usually do, but instead just taxied from the hold short position onto the active runway and started the roll...strange.  I read somewhere that it could be that with the plane's size and weight, starting from a complete stop uses more fuel, so they prefer to just give it a running start... I don't now).

I almost crapped my pants because I heard planes being cleared to land on 31L that night.  Usually, they use 31R to land and 31L for takeoffs, unless it gets busy.  And this was about 11pm, not a busy time.  But for whatever reason, I heard them clear landings on 31L, I think 31R might have been closed.  So I was thinking a plane may just land on top of us.

So I'm sitting there looking at the monitor's tail camera and praying.  LOL  Then after about 5 seconds or so, I hear "Emirates 202 Super - Cleared for take off 31L".  Phew!!!

I didn't realize there is a delay in the feed.  How long is it?  The first time I did this, there didn't seem to be a delay.  But that flight, the pilot had asked to hold wait for like 2 minutes because they were still not through their list and they needed more time.  The controller had to ask if we were ready to go.
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mperry
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« Reply #16 on: March 24, 2013, 01:48:35 AM »

The Black Box looks cool, but I don't think you would get it passed TSA


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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LoveATC
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« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2016, 01:41:24 PM »

so I can listen to my LIVEATC.net phone app while on the tarmac and just before takeoff and while in the air? how about landing?
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