[aprssig] N1547C tracker

Robert Bruninga bruninga at usna.edu
Thu Oct 20 14:29:51 CDT 2005

Ah, so now Con-Ed, BG&E and Virginia Power are 
licensed?  They turn my ham station on and off all 
the time...  I better go check their license and be 
sure they are authorized to do this.. this is scarry...;-)
>>> HamLists at ametx.com 10/20/05 2:37 PM >>>
I agree BUT having a tracker turned on and off by a non-licensed person takes that tracker out of the realm of "automatic control" as it is the non-licensed person who is controlling whether that tracker transmits or not.  True, once turned on the tracker can be considered under automatic control and therefore placing trackers in vehicles where a ham is not present is legal IF the other requirement in 97.109(d) can be met _and_ if unlicensed person(s) do not control whether the tracker is turned on or not.  But when a person specifically turns on a tracker, then they become the control operator.

In the case of the tracker in N1547C, we are in what I would call a gray area.  It could be said that automatic control is in effect any time power is applied to the aircraft engine (ignition switches are different on aircraft than on automobiles; there is no "auxiliary" position).  Also, if the tracker is automatically turned on by turning on the Master power switch, it could be argued that it is still under automatic control.  If an unlicensed person is responsible for turning off the tracker permanently upon notification from the control operator, then I would say that falls under the "procedures" portion of the definition of "automatic control".  If, however, the unlicensed person directly controls the power up of the tracker, then I would submit that while individual transmissions may be under automatic control, the transmitter itself is not because it's operation is being directly controlled by an unlicensed person.

One last thought about part 97 on tracking aircraft: can this be done by means other than amateur radio?
(ยง97.113 Prohibited transmissions. 
(a) No amateur station shall transmit: 
(5) Communications, on a regular basis, which could reasonably be furnished alternatively through other radio services.)

It could be contended that commercial services which provide online tracking of aircraft on IFR flight plans furnish the exact same service.  Whether the pilot is using IFR flight plans would then be an issue.


Pete Loveall AE5PL
mailto:pete at ae5pl.net 

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