Dear Canberra Pilots

The ACTHPA Committee is concerned about the way we currently use (or don’t use) radios at our sites. There have been a number of situations where supervising pilots have not been able to get in touch with the pilots they were supervising to alert them of changing conditions or potentially unsafe flying. There has also been some confusion by visiting pilots about the frequency that we use for general communication in the air.

Proposal

To address these concerns, the committee proposes to:

  • Require PG2s or supervised HG pilots who are being supervised by a qualified pilot at any ACTHPA site to carry a UHF radio that can receive transmissions on “SAFA 1” so if conditions change the PG2 or supervised HG pilot can be advised and directed by the supervising pilot;

  • Strongly suggest the use of radios by all pilots at ACTHPA sites when multiple pilots are soaring (you still don’t have to carry it up when you do a solo morning sleddie at Lanyon); and

  • Ask that pilots use “SAFA 1” instead of “Open” at ACTHPA sites.

Reasons

Supervised Pilot Radio Contact: We consider that supervision does not end when the supervised pilot’s feet leave the ground. It would often be helpful for the supervised pilots and their supervisors to be able to respond to changing conditions or flying patterns. Encouraging supervised pilots to get into the radio habit will also help foster a culture of using radios – this will help general communication at our sites and wider use of radios could assist in managing emergency situations.

SAFA 1: Using “Open” (now also known as “SAFA 5”) creates confusion for visitors, particularly because we can hear them but they cannot hear our replies. Having SAFA 1 as our main frequency still leaves the three others as private channels for pilot use if SAFA 1 becomes too busy (it rarely does in Canberra). More details about the SAFA frequency and channels are available in the SAFA UHF & VHF Radio Frequencies document of the SAFA members’ page.

Timing & Consultation

The committee hopes to make these effective from 1 February 2021, but in the meantime would welcome any comments and suggestions, which we will consider in good faith. We are particularly interested in hearing from PG2s and supervising pilots. Anecdotally, it appears the hang gliders have been using radios all the time already. However since radio use affects everyone, we encourage all Canberra pilots (all HG, PG and PPG ratings) to let us know their views.

You can comment on the Facebook post or email . If you would like your comments to be anonymised (they will not be attributed to you, but may be discussed generally) or confidential (they will not be shared beyond the committee other than in very high level terms) please send them by email and note this at the top of your email.

Alex

ACTHPA Vice President