Tuning into ATC

Whilst down at my local airport, I noticed someone plane spotting. They had what looked like a small radio device, and they were listening to the ATC - Aircraft communications. How did they do this?

ATC is broadcasted on a public frequency, just grab a radio and tune to the right frequency.

2 Likes

@William_Armstrong That’s what I thought. I’m heading down there on Thursday. Is there an app I can download on my phone to use?

liveatc.net is a good source if you don’t have a radio. I believe they have an app as well.

3 Likes

I use that all the time but unfortunately my local airport isn’t covered :/

Just buy a radio and tune to the frequencies listed on airnav

1 Like

And when they say radio, they mean a scanner where you can dial in a specific frequency.

6 Likes

It’s actually illegal to broadcast ATC in the UK so the people you will have seen will have been certified or something. At LBA there’s always this one guy in a high visibility jacket with the airport logo on and he listens to Comms.

1 Like

This isn’t in the UK, it’s in Spain. Not really sure what the law is over here :)

1 Like

I just took the info from you profile so I assumed, sorry. If it’s an EU law then it could be illegal in Spain as well but I’m not sure.

1 Like

I live in the UK, but I come to Spain for long periods of time

I had a quick Google and it looks like it is legal in Spain so maybe just try a few different websites.

1 Like

I know it’s illegal in the UK, I’m not disputing the fact, but I do question how it’s possible to outlaw the capture of specific, free-floating electromagetic frequencies. That would be the same as banning people from looking at the color red (both are just different frequencies of electro-magnetic waves).

6 Likes

I’ve had a quick look through Google but I can’t seem to find anything. Or a website where you can manually input the frequency you want to listen to.

Well if you accidentally tuned to a frequency I doubt that would be prosecuted much, but intentional tuning would be more severe.

1 Like

True. Unless you are caught in the act, theres no way to tell someone is tuned to a frequency. In the 80s/90s the police scanner radios picked up the neighbor’s coordless phone signal. That made for great radio. Since then police and such have used different bands or use rotating frequencies but its still out there in the air above you.

3 Likes

I don’t think it’s illegal. Obviously it is to transmit but receiving should be legal.

It is an offence to listen to ATC in the UK under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006.

The likelihood of being prosecuted for doing so with a scanner is probably close to zero. However, if you were also rebroadcasting in on the internet I am sure OFCOM would become a bit more interested, hence why liveatc.net does not have UK ATC.

Well that’s just stupid.

I couldn’t listen to the ATC for Palma.

1 Like