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Airband Scanners - Icom IC-R6 Airband

Basic Airband Scanner Information

Civilian & Military Aircraft Frequencies
To receive civilian aircraft transmissions you will need a scanner that has a frequency range of 108-137Mhz. If you want to listen to military aircraft transmissions then you will need a scanner that has a frequency range of 225-400MHz. You should also set the scanner to the AM mode (Amplitude Modulation).
Civilian aircraft band (VHF) - 108-137MHz AM.
Military aircraft band (UHF) - 225-400MHz AM.

Search and Scan
When using a scanner you can either use the 'Search' mode where it searches through a range of frequencies until it stops when it finds a transmission for you to listen to, or use the 'Scan' mode where you store specific frequencies into the scanner and it will just scan through these frequencies until it finds a transmission.

A scanner usually lets you set either AM (Amplitude Modulation) or FM (Frequency Modulation). The scanner may also have NFM (Narrow FM) and WFM (Wide FM) but for listening to aircraft transmissions you should only use the AM mode.

Banks and Channels
The Scanner's memory is used to store your frequencies which are usually arranged into Banks and Channels. A Bank consists of a group of Channels and you can program a frequency into a Channel. The idea is that you could fill a Bank with specific frequencies for a particular airshow and just scan the Channels in that Bank. You could use other Banks to store Display Teams and/or Common Display Frequencies (used at many airshows). This helps to organise all the frequencies that you want to store on the scanner. Note that all scanners work slightly differently and you should always consult the manual for your particular model.

Step Size
The Step size will depend on the scanner and some can scan through a list of frequencies using the following steps:- 5, 6.25, 8.33, 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 25, 50, 100kHz. Using the correct Step size will mean that you don't miss any frequencies. Recently the spacing between airband frequencies has been reduced from 25KHz spacing to 8.33KHz spacing so as to increase the number of frequencies available. Therefore your airband scanner should have a step size of 8.33KHz.

There should be a knob on your scanner to control the Squelch. When you start to search or scan then you should turn the Squelch down just enough to get rid of the background noise so that the scanner can scan through all the channels. If you leave the Squelch turned up then you will hear the background noise and the scanner will stop on that channel and will not scan.

Scanner Range
Both VHF and UHF are short range, line-of-sight radio transmissions which are restricted to a maximum range of about 200 miles due to the curvature of the earth and usually considerably less depending on the surroundings (hills etc). This means you should easily pick up transmissions from an aircraft in the air as there are no obstructions between you and the aircraft, but you may not hear the control tower of a nearby airport because there are obstructions such as hills and buildings etc. If you want to hear the control tower as well as the aircraft then you should visit the airport.

UK Airshows
People usually use scanners at UK airshows to listen in on the control tower and the pilots so that they know what is happening and when the aircraft are about to display. It is a good idea to be discreet with your scanner and use earphones so that you don't draw attention to yourself or disturb other people at the show. The frequencies used at UK Airshows are usually in the civilian frequency range of 108-137Mhz but if you wanted to listen in on the Red Arrows leader barking out his commands then you will need a scanner capable of listen to military aircraft transmissions in the range of 225-400MHz. If you are going to an airshow outside of the UK then check out their laws regarding airband scanners and if you are not sure then do not take your scanner with you.

You can also track an aircraft on your computer or smartphone while using your scanner to listen in. A tracker will display the aircraft on a map and supply lots of information such as aircraft type, airline, where it took off, its destination, altitude and speed. Below are a few trackers (civilian & Military aircraft):
Flight Radar 24.
Plane Finder.
ADS-B Exchange / Global Radar View (military).
Plane Finder Free App (Android).
Plane Finder Free App (IOS).

Airband Frequencies
A list of scanner frequencies can be found on this website for UK airports, UK airshows, display teams and Royal Air Force bases.
UK Airport Scanner Frequencies.
Airshow Scanner Frequencies.
Display Teams Scanner Frequencies.
Royal Air Force Scanner Frequencies.

Useful Links
Mark's Scanners.
Airband Scanners.
UK Airports (Trackers, Frequencies, arrivals etc).
UK Military Bases (Trackers, Frequencies, aircraft etc).
Live Aviation.
More Airband Scanner Reviews.

Icom IC-R6 Scanner

The Icom IC-R6 Airband is a very small scanner but has a wide frequency range and plenty of features.


Icom IC-R6 Handheld Scanner

Due to the compact size of this scanner it lacks a keypad. This makes it very tedious when entering in the frequencies manually. It is advisable to buy some programming software and a cable to enter all your frequencies via a computer.

Having a very small scanner has the benefit of being easy to carry around in your pocket all day. However the small speaker is a bit tinny but it does have audio output for using headphones.

The Icom IC-R6 has a good selection of scanning options with fast frequency scanning and the batteries will last a long time on this scanner.

Specification & some features:
Dimensions & Weight: 2.98cm(Depth) x 5.8cm(Width) x 8.6cm(Height), 200g(Weight with batteries & antenna).
Power: 2x AA batteries or AC adapter.
Channels - 1300 Channels.
Banks - 22 Banks.
Modes: AM/FM/WFM.
Steps: 5, 6.25, 8.33, 9, 10, 12.5, 15, 20, 25, 30, 50, 100, 125, 200kHz.
Frequencies: 0.100-1309.995 MHz.
100 channels per second.
Priority watch function with priority beep function.
PC programmable with optional CS-R6.
Auto power Off.

Icom IC-R6 Manual:

Icom IC-R6 Manual.
Icom IC-R6 Leaflet.

Icom IC-R6 Software:
With this scanner you can program in your frequencies by connecting the scanner to a computer (a cable will be required). Below are some software links for the Icom IC-R6:


Where to buy the Bearcat UBC125XLT Scanner

You can buy the Icom IC-R6 Scanner at Amazon or you might find a new or second-hand scanner on Ebay.

Buy Airband Scanners at Ebay.