AIP GEN 3.4
Universal communications (UNICOM) is a non-ATS communications service to improve the information normally available about a non-controlled aerodrome.
The primary function of the frequency used for UNICOM services where the frequency is the CTAF is to give pilots the means to make standard positional broadcasts when operating in the vicinity of the aerodrome. Participation in UNICOM services must not inhibit the transmission of standard positional broadcasts.
Participation in UNICOM services relates to the exchange of messages concerning:
- fuel requirements
- estimated times of arrival and departure
- aerodrome information
- maintenance and servicing of aircraft, including the ordering of parts and materials urgently required
- passenger requirements
- unscheduled landings to be made by aircraft
- general weather reports
- basic information on traffic.
This information is available to all aircraft during the times when the UNICOM is operating.
Weather reports, other than simple factual statements about the weather, may not be provided by UNICOM operators unless they are properly authorised to make weather observations under CAR 120.
The UNICOM operator is solely responsible for the accuracy of any information passed to an aircraft, while the use of information obtained from a UNICOM is at the discretion of the pilot in command.
Stations providing a UNICOM service must be licensed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Detailed information regarding the licensing and use of equipment may be obtained by contacting ACMA in the appropriate state or territory capital city.
UNICOM operators must comply with the requirements of CAR 83 (2).
Listening to other pilots’ broadcasts increases situational awareness and helps you to see and avoid other aircraft.
Where it is determined there is a potential for traffic conflict, radio broadcasts should be made as necessary to avoid the risk of a collision or an airprox. A pilot should not hesitate to call and clarify the other aircraft’s position and intentions if there is any uncertainty.
It is essential to maintain a diligent lookout because other traffic may not be able to communicate on the radio for various reasons—they might be tuned to the wrong frequency, have selected the wrong radio, have a microphone failure, or have the volume turned down.
Make calls as clearly and concisely as possible using the standard phraseology. Speak at a normal pace, as rapid speech can make transmissions difficult for other pilots to understand. Be careful not to ‘clip’ your transmission when stating your location as confusion can arise at aerodromes that are close together and share the same CTAF.
Ideally pilots should make circuit broadcasts before making a turn because banking aircraft are easier to see.
A simple strategy to remember when flying in the circuit is ‘look’, ‘talk’ and ‘turn’.
Make broadcast calls brief and clear. Think about what to say before transmitting. Make positional and other broadcasts necessary to minimise traffic conflict using standard phraseology, for example: joining circuit, base, and vacating the runway. Effective communication and increased traffic awareness will help prevent a collision or an airprox (a near collision).
Avoid the use of local terminology in position reports, for example: use ‘Bundaberg’ instead of ‘Bundy’.
When an AFRU is in operation, be careful not to break your transmission momentarily as the AFRU will automatically over-transmit your subsequent broadcast.