FCC Warns Pilots Not to Mess Around on 121.5 MHz

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The Federal Communications Commission is diligently working with the FAA to send a simple message to pilots and other users of the aviation emergency radio frequency. The FCC warns that 121.5 Mhz is for urgent messages that involve protection of people or property or both, and nothing else.

Monitoring 121.5 for emergency radio traffic is, of course, just one of the FAA’s roles in the National Airspace System. The agency said this week its ability to monitor the emergency frequency has been hampered in some areas by people using 121.5 for non-emergency purposes.

The Enforcement Bureau of the FCC plans to step up action against frequency violators who could open themselves up to the penalties authorized by the Communications Act, and those fines are not cheap. A single violation could cost the perpetrator as much as $19,246 for the first misuse of the frequency, with ongoing violations fines running to as much as $144,000. The FCC will also confiscate the violator's radio equipment, and possibly file criminal charges for nefarious broadcasts over 121.5.

The FAA reminds pilots that air-to-air communications are authorized on 122.750 Mhz. Additional information about the use of aircraft radio frequencies is available from the FCC.

Rob MarkAuthor
Rob Mark is an award-winning journalist, business jet pilot, flight instructor, and blogger.

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