I've asked this question over on Aviation Stack Exchange, but nobody over there knew the answer, so I thought I'd ask here.

I'm a student pilot. I know that my pilot's license also acts as permission to use the radio in an airplane. But, I recently purchased a handheld airband radio as a backup to the plane's radio. If I wanted to use my handheld on the ground, not in a plane, what license would I need? Is this even possible?

(I already have a Restricted Radiotelephone license, if that helps.)

(No, I don't know why I would want to do so. I just like having my options open.)

  • I know that such radios are sometimes used on the ground to communicate with aircraft in place of, or as backups for, the ore usual ground radios, and must be legal with a proper license, but UI can't say what license that is. What country are you interested in? license rules vary by country Commented May 10, 2021 at 21:20
  • What jurisdiction is this?
    – Dale M
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 22:25
  • 1
    @DavidSiegel The US. Commented May 10, 2021 at 22:32
  • There is no license to allow you to sit at the airport and chat with air traffic.
    – Ron Beyer
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 21:18
  • If you just want to sit there and listen, there is no requirement for a license at all.
    – Mark
    Commented May 13, 2021 at 1:53

1 Answer 1


The possible types of ground stations that could be licensed by the FAA are outlined in the Ground Stations website. Those listed are

  • Aeronautical advisory stations
  • Aeronautical multicom stations Aeronautical enroute stations
  • Flight test stations
  • Aviation support stations
  • Airport control tower stations
  • Automatic weather observation stations
  • Various radio navigation stations, such as omin-directional range stations (VOR)

Other types of authorization may exist, which I have not found detailed information for. Such authorizations could be a blanket authorization to use a radio in an emergency, or use by military and Civil Air Patrol stations under authority emanating from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.


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