Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF)
If you’re flying to a non-controlled aerodrome in Australia, it’s essential to know about the Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) and the related procedures. The CTAF is the radio frequency that pilots use to make positional broadcasts at non-controlled aerodromes. In case there isn’t a specific frequency assigned, you’ll want to use 126.7 MHz. Keep in mind that Air Traffic Services (ATS) usually don’t monitor these frequencies.
To maximise safety, the Civil Aviation Safety Regulation (CASR) 91.630 mandates pilots with a working radio they’re qualified to use to make broadcasts whenever necessary to avoid collisions or the risk of collision at non-controlled aerodromes. In some situations, having a radio and knowing how to use it are obligatory.
If you’re flying a high-performance aircraft or operating at a busy aerodrome, it’s a good idea to monitor and broadcast on the CTAF earlier to gain better situational awareness of the traffic.
Remember, as the pilot in command, you’re responsible for collision avoidance, sequencing, and understanding local procedures. If you’re flying over a non-controlled aerodrome, try to stay clear of the circuit area and common routes for arriving and departing traffic.
In cases where multiple non-controlled aerodromes are close together, a single CTAF might be assigned to them. Discrete CTAFs are shown in the Enroute Supplement Australia (ERSA) and Enroute Chart (ERC) Low charts. If there’s no specific frequency for a charted aerodrome, use the default CTAF of 126.7 MHz. For uncharted aerodromes, use the area frequency for traffic communication when necessary to avoid collisions or the risk of collision.
Lastly, if a UNICOM service is available at a non-controlled aerodrome and it doubles as the CTAF, the ERSA will list the frequency as CTAF/UNICOM. Safe flying!