What strategy do you use for monitoring North Atlantic HF aero frequencies?

KB2GOM

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There appears to be NAT-A through NAT-F, and a handful of frequencies for each . . . how do you decide which frequencies to monitor when?
 

ka3jjz

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There is absolutely no difference in propagation between HF amateur or any other HF service. There isn't nearly the traffic that there used to be because of the use of digital (HFDL) and satellites, so it's simply a matter of trying the various freqs and seeing what is propagating to your area.

The good thing is that HFDL is very easy to monitor, there's software available ; just connecting the PC and radio together is a bit of a tussle because most newer PCs don't have line in jacks anymore. You have to use a USB soundcard for this

Mike
 

KB2GOM

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There is absolutely no difference in propagation between HF amateur or any other HF service. There isn't nearly the traffic that there used to be because of the use of digital (HFDL) and satellites, so it's simply a matter of trying the various freqs and seeing what is propagating to your area.

The good thing is that HFDL is very easy to monitor, there's software available ; just connecting the PC and radio together is a bit of a tussle because most newer PCs don't have line in jacks anymore. You have to use a USB soundcard for this

Mike
Thanks, Mike. This -- This just made me grin . . . -- happened to me the other day, and I just thought I would try to intercept as much SSB aero frequencies as I can.

Are there any propagation tools that you can recommend for getting closer to the right frequencies? I've been checking WWV at 5, 10, and 15 megs to use as a rough guide.
 

ka3jjz

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<snip>.
Are there any propagation tools that you can recommend for getting closer to the right frequencies? I've been checking WWV at 5, 10, and 15 megs to use as a rough guide.
While there are numerous tools - including the popular VOACAP - that can help with this, you should know that the predictions given by software are an estimation - nothing substitutes for using your ears to tell you how a particular band is doing.

That software and many related pages can be found linked here...


Mike
 

majoco

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What Mike says - use your ears! There's not a lot of traffic these days so it's likely that there will be only one frequency in use for each NAT sector. It will probably be a higher frequency during the day, say 12 or 17MHz then drop down to the mid in the late afternoon, say 8MHz and even lower in the night, 5 or 3 MHz. Listen to the controller, he'll say "Primary frequency is blah MHz, secondary blah" to a new aircraft arriving into the sector. He will have been told from the previous controller what the current frequencies are in the new sector so if you can catch Shanwick or Reykjavik they'll tell him.
Here's an old chart but not a lot has changed.

NATABCEF.jpg
 

KB2GOM

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While there are numerous tools - including the popular VOACAP - that can help with this, you should know that the predictions given by software are an estimation - nothing substitutes for using your ears to tell you how a particular band is doing.

That software and many related pages can be found linked here...


Mike
As always, Mike, your comments are helpful.
 

ATCTech

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You might want to pay attention to the NAT-D family. Gander Radio handles the "over the pole" traffic in addition to the North Atlantic traffic out to 30W. Currently listening to Gander on 8891 passing the active frequency for Magadan (Russia) to a United flight in addition to working various North Atlantic flights on the same frequency.
 

AirScan

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There appears to be NAT-A through NAT-F, and a handful of frequencies for each . . . how do you decide which frequencies to monitor when?

Eastbound entering Gander Oceanic airspace the initial HF frequency is assigned by Gander Radio on VHF. Covered by this LiveATC feed at CYYT.

Eastbound approaching 30W the Shanwick HF frequency is assigned by Gander Oceanic using SATCOM/CPDLC. Covered by this SATCOM CPDLC website.

Eastbound entering New York Oceanic airspace the initial HF frequency is assigned by New York ARINC on VHF. Covered by this LiveATC New York ARINC feed.

Westbound entering Shanwick Oceanic airspace the HF frequencies for Shanwick and Gander are assigned by either Shannon ATC or Shanwick Radio using either VHF or CPDLC. Covered by these Shannon Control 1 and Shannon Control 2 feeds.

Monitoring these sources you will be able to determine what HF frequencies are currently in use.

New York Oceanic frequencies are also displayed here on the ARINC website. Although they are not always accurate.
 
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KB2GOM

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Eastbound entering Gander Oceanic airspace the initial HF frequency is assigned by Gander Radio on VHF. Covered by this LiveATC feed at CYYT.

Eastbound approaching 30W the Shanwick HF frequency is assigned by Gander Oceanic using SATCOM/CPDLC. Covered by this SATCOM CPDLC website.

Eastbound entering New York Oceanic airspace the initial HF frequency is assigned by New York ARINC on VHF. Covered by this LiveATC New York ARINC feed.

Westbound entering Shanwick Oceanic airspace the HF frequencies for Shanwick and Gander are assigned by either Shannon ATC or Shanwick Radio using either VHF or CPDLC. Covered by these Shannon Control 1 and Shannon Control 2 feeds.

Monitoring these sources you will be able to determine what HF frequencies are currently in use.

New York Oceanic frequencies are also displayed here on the ARINC website. Although they are not always accurate.
That is, exactly, awesome information . . . very helpful. (And here I thought you HF Aero experts did it by detecting "a disturbance in the force").:D
 

KB2GOM

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You might want to pay attention to the NAT-D family. Gander Radio handles the "over the pole" traffic in addition to the North Atlantic traffic out to 30W. Currently listening to Gander on 8891 passing the active frequency for Magadan (Russia) to a United flight in addition to working various North Atlantic flights on the same frequency.
Not quite two hours after you posted that, I saw your message, fired up the radio, and copied Gander taking care of business. Thanks for the tip!
 

ATCTech

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FWIW Gander is up on NAT-D freq 11279 this morning as expected.

Also, don't discount listening to the New York Radio (ARINC) Caribbean frequency groups as well, there's still a fair bit of position reporting going on by voice call with the traffic back and forth from the northeast US to the tropical destinations.
 

AirScan

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The BTown list has been updated on 5th June 2021.
The list shows 52 Shanwick MWARA frequencies. In reality it seems most have never been used by Shanwick. Pre-covid I've only logged these 13 Shanwick MWARA frequencies as active - 2872, 2971, 3446, 3476, 4651, 5583, 5649, 6547, 6595, 6622, 8872, 8879, 10021. I'm not sure why they have so many designated frequencies, and if they have ever used some of the other ones ?
 

ATCTech

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There are 24 listed here not including SAR and VOLMET and the duplication of 13291 in 3 different families.


NAT-H, I and J were added a for transitioning/routings from the transoceanic NAT route termination points to domestic fixes on the Shanwick side probably 8 years ago I'm thinking? I know it was when I was still working as I spoke to my counterpart at ZQX to ask if the Gander IFSS was making any changes at the time, so that's now at least 6 years ago. Obviously the hardware exists for using any of them although I didn't realize they have NAT-D published on their side.
 
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AirScan

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here are 24 listed here not including SAR and VOLMET and the duplication of 13291 in 3 different families.

Missing from that list are 4651 and 5583 which are being used by Shanwick tonight.

From monitoring over the last few years it seems that Family "B" and "D" are used by Gander and Family "A" by New York and Santa Maria. Leaving Family C, F, H, I, J to Shanwick (plus 4651 and 5583). As you mention, and I suspect, Shanwick still has the capability to monitor the other Families but rarely if ever uses them now ?

Pre-covid I've only logged these 13 Shanwick MWARA frequencies as active - 2872, 2971, 3446, 3476, 4651, 5583, 5649, 6547, 6595, 6622, 8872, 8879, 10021.

I screwed that up, should be these 11 Shanwick frequencies that I confirmed - 2872, 3446, 3491, 4651, 5583, 5649, 6547, 6595, 6622, 8879, 10021. Which leaves 8920, 11336 and 13291. 13291 seems suspect as it's the only one common to B, D, and F ? Any recent reception reports on these 3 appreciated.
 

ATCTech

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Am I blind or are there no actual HF frequencies in that ICAO document, just QA, XB, YB etc? All statistics, no help to us. although there's some mention of VHF specifics. And FWIW, the document I posted is dated 2021 which based on the number of frequencies in the ICAO documents leaves it in quite the confusing state between the IAA and ICAO. International organizations are always so much fun, and I say that from personal experience between us, ICAO and the FAA at times. It took until just the last 24 months to get NOTAMs in the same format, and don't get me started on how flight plan format had to be handled between us and the FAA for decades.

No wonder I was happy to retire! ;)
 
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