Radio amateurs help air-ambulance

Discussion in 'Amateur Radio News' started by G4TUT, Jul 17, 2020.

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  1. G4TUT

    G4TUT Ham Member QRZ Page

    Radio amateurs help air-ambulance

    Peru's Radio Club Peruano (RCP) reports that Guillermo OA4DTU and the Peruvian Relief Chain on 7.100 MHz assisted an aircraft enroute to Easter Island after its satellite communication equipment failed

    A translation reads:

    On Thursday, July 9 an aircraft departing Santiago de Chile carrying out an air ambulance service to pick up a patient on Easter Island, lost communication more than 1,000 nautical miles from the continent with its control tower, so the pilot turned to the frequency of the Peruvian Relief Chain on 7100 kHz.

    While the exercise of the Peruvian Relief Chain had ended a few minutes before, colleagues Guillermo OA4DTU, who was operating the Chain, and Giancarlo OA4DSN, were left in wheel, so the aircraft pilot was able to contact Guillermo.

    In this way communication was established with the aircraft, who detailed its delicate situation, given an apparent failure in its satellite communication equipment, so requested support to communicate via telephone with Ocean Air Control, service of the Directorate General of Aeronautics of Chile that watches over that 32 million square kilometres airspace in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Chile.

    This is how Oceanic Control takes the call of Guillermo, pointing out his surprise and relief for communication, since they were indeed in an alert situation due to the loss of contact with the aircraft and that the remote team HF of the Island Tower Easter was inoperative at the time, so communication was not possible for them.

    About 10 phone calls were made with this service, pointing out the different positions and schedules of its route, plus some indications for pilots and air control respectively.

    Other OA colleagues were attentive and ready to take action if necessary, accompanying Guillermo in contact and the aircraft until he knew it would reach its destination.

    At approximately 23:30 (04:30 GMT), the aircraft reports that it has managed to make contact via VHF with the Easter Island control tower, confirming the descent and landing instructions on the island!!!

    The joy and satisfaction of all who were in frequency was absolute even more since minutes after losing contact by HF the pilot communicated with Guillermo sending his greetings, thanks and a photograph of the aircraft perched on the Mataveri track, in where the minute it was raining and waiting for a patient to be moved to Santiago de Chile.

    Finally, the accompaniment to the aircraft lasted nearly 3 hours, which was permanent from the first contact until its arrival at destination, with the thanks also from the Ocean Air Control Service to Guillermo and the Peruvian Socorro Chain.

    This action reaffirms the role played by Radio amateurs in risk or emergency situations.

    Congratulations Guillermo!

    Source RCP Facebook post at

    Cadena Peruana de Socorro (Peruvian Relief Chain)

    Radio Club Peruano

    KL7KN, N0TZU, YO3IPR and 1 other person like this.
  2. G0WXU

    G0WXU Ham Member QRZ Page

    Briliant action by Guillermo. Showing what Amateur radio is all about. Very well done. 73 de John - G0WXU.
    R2DYM likes this.
  3. R2DYM

    R2DYM Ham Member QRZ Page

    This story brilliantly demonstrates the social value of ham radio! Ham radio saves lives!
  4. K1LKP

    K1LKP Platinum Subscriber Platinum Subscriber QRZ Page

    Congratulations Guillermo!


    === Hats_off[1].gif
  5. W5OTR

    W5OTR Premium Subscriber QRZ Page

    But not in this case... its nice they could help... but they simply could have waited until they got in vhf range of the island...
    Nevertheless, I'm positive the story will be legend among the whackers...
  6. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    I have to share your views about this.

    When reading about this incident initially, I found it very strange that the air ambulance had entered oceanic airspace without any HF radio check with the appropriate HF air/ground communications centre(s) which should have been indicated in their filed oceanic flight-plan and finally in their oceanic clearance.

    An air ambulance is not a scheduled airliner, and travels under somewhat different rules, but out of pure self-preservation, it would have been in the interest of both the aircrew and the air traffic controllers to have made sure that an alternative communications link existed.

    I am not familiar with the detailed operating procedures for the Chilean oceanic FIR both for scheduled and non-scheduled flights, but it is reasonable to expect them to be similar to those for the North Atlantic, where at least no scheduled flights are permitted to enter oceanic airspace without an HF radio check on both primary and secondary ATC frequencies, even if the aircraft should be equipped with satellite communications for ATC purposes.

    Should something similar have happened to an airliner, investigations into why the aircraft was allowed to fly into oceanic airspace without proper radio checks would have been launched by both the airline and the Chilean aviation authorities, possibly ending up in disciplinary actions.

    Finally, all involved should be very grateful that there was not a contest going on at the time...

    W5OTR likes this.
  7. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    I think Karl-Arne @SM0AOM and @W5OTR are being a little harsh here.

    The OP translation to English is quite rough, but it seems clear to me in the fourth paragraph "...the remote team HF of the Island Tower Easter was inoperative at the time, so communication was not possible for them."

    IOW there was a failure of Chilean ATC HF communications on the island, either before takeoff and out of range, or perhaps while en route.

    Upon reaching 1000 miles out the aircraft, upon losing its sat link, was not been able to establish contact with either IPC, who were down, or the mainland ATC via HF. Broken ATC infrastructure, bad propagation?

    Hence the "when all else fails" resort to amateur radio alternatives, whose operators may have been considerably better equipped and skilled to cope with HF weak signal conditions. :)

    Also the remoteness of Easter Island may have had added consequences, as can be read in this aviation blog thread. The limitations may have prevented any air-to-air relaying opportunities.
    Last edited: Jul 25, 2020
    N3VFK likes this.
  8. SM0AOM

    SM0AOM Ham Member QRZ Page

    This the usual overstating of the capabilities of amateur radio.

    People that are expected to take aviation safety seriously should not let themselves into situations where they suddenly find themselves without communications and having to improvise while out over the ocean.

    The whole problem could have been avoided by just requiring an HF radio check with a suitable ground station before giving oceanic clearance, which could have been Lima in Peru, any Chilean station serving the Chilean FIR or even the ARINC LDOC HF station in Bolivia. Prescribed frequencies for every reporting point should have been included in the flight-plan.

    This is a procedure required for scheduled airliners even if they use satellite-based CPDLC, and I see no reason why it should be any different from the flight-safety and ATC points of view also for non-scheduled operations.

    The technical and operational performance required from HF air/ground infrastructure greatly surpasses what radio amateurs are able to provide, such as large directional antenna farms that work down to 3 or 4 MHz, together with multi-kW transmitters. Also, the safety importance of the air/ground frequencies keeps them quite free from interference.

    In first-world countries, the Authorities have "viewed the hand" of amateur radio and found it lacking in most aspects.

    The last bastion of relevance for amateur radio is currently in third-world countries and in states on their way of becoming third-world. Others see amateur radio as the nuisance it has become in reality.

  9. W0PV

    W0PV Ham Member QRZ Page

    This is the usual answer expected from supporters of government or commercial providers that arrogantly predict their infrastructure plan is eternally infallible.

    Meanwhile there are anecdotal reports from actual professional pilots that support the amateur radio communications alternative. Found by reading this forum specializing in aviation lost communications.

    Listed references such as,

    Pacific Exceptions [ICAO Doc 7030, PAC 9.3)
    In the event of total loss of communication, an aircraft shall:
    a) try to re-establish communication by all other means;

    In an answer to a question, professional pilot contributor Larry replies,

    "Likewise, SATCOM is another option, if the aircraft is so equipped. Other options are a “flite phone” (air-to-ground) or the HF radio(s), which can be used to contact ARINC or a ham radio operator to relay messages to an ATC facility. ...

    Larry's credentials -

    Larry is an International contract Captain operating the Bombardier Challenger 650/605/604. He has been flying Challengers Internationally since 1998 and has logged over 8,000 flight hours, of which 3,700 hours are in Challengers. He is Editor of four aviation books, and has written dozens of articles on aviation safety, training, and aircraft operations. His work has been published in Business and Commercial Aviation magazine, AOPA’s Flight Training magazine, TAG Aviation’s Safety Wire, company newsletters, and online. As a young CFI, Larry was recruited by the FAA’s National Safety Team Manager as a remedial training specialist and also presented aviation safety seminars. Etc etc etc.

    73, John, WØPV
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2020
  10. N3VFK

    N3VFK Ham Member QRZ Page


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