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Home > Air Security > Can I use my air band scanner in flight?
Can I use my air band scanner in flight?
Aviation - Air Security
Written by Capt Lim   
Sunday, 22 May 2011 17:07

Hi Capt. Lim,

I’m an aviation enthusiast going on a trip to Hawaii. I have an Air Band/FM/VHF scanner that I want to use on board a flight in the United States.

Would this be allowed?

Should I ask the Captain before I do this?


Air Band scanner monitoring Air Traffic communications

Hi Sean,

I wrote about the use of portable electronic device (PED) in an in-flight magazine sometime back and the risks associated with it. Below is part of the article.

The Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) has classified PED into 2 groups - namely A and B.

Those under Group A are more critical as they intentionally radiate or transmit strong radio signals and are not allowed on board the airplane at any time.

These items include cell phones, pagers, walkie talkies, transmitters that remotely control devices such as toys, citizen band radios, amateur radio transceivers and battery powered calculators with printers.

Devices that fall under Group B are those that do not intentionally radiate and transmit radio signals but they nevertheless emit low powered 'electronic noise'.

Hence, you cannot use them during taxi, take off, approach and landing of the aircraft but you can do so once the seat belt signs are off (above 10,000 feet) and during the cruise.

Examples of such devices are: video recorders, audio and playback devices, CD players, laptop computers, palm tops, Pocket PCs, MP3 players, electronic entertainment devices, calculators, FM & TV receivers and electronic shavers.

So your AirBand/FM/VHF scanner probably falls in between these categories. As I know it, the scanner is used to monitor the conversation of pilots or any air communication and is merely a receiver. Nevertheless, if the security official classifies it as a radio, then it would be banned on the flight

In some countries air band scanners are illegal.

US airlines prohibit the use of radios on the aircraft during flight as anything that is receiving the spectrum of bandwidth of the navigation and communications radios, can interfere with reception.

Hence such PED are banned on US aircraft under FAR 91.21 except:

(1) Portable voice recorders;
(2) Hearing aids;
(3) Heart pacemakers;
(4) Electric shavers; or
(5) Any other portable electronic device that the operator of the aircraft has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.

I suggest that you do not use it in flight.alt

PS. To check for any latest updates or postings, please follow my new Twitter at @CaptKHLim

Air Band Radio Scanner


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Comments (2)

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Scanner in the USA
i am from Switzerland and will travel soon to the US. Can I take my scanner with me to the States? We love airplanes and we would like use also the scanner by a NASCAR race. Is there a problem at the custom?
Ruedi , 31 Mar, 2012
Optic Albinism
Is it possible to get an EASA class 1 medical with this condition ?
Michael , 01 Jun, 2016

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