Listening to Navaids at Halifax
Last updated on June 4, 2020
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Did you know that you can hear the navaids associated with Halifax airport? You won't hear anyone talking and there won't be anything to decode and display, but it might be fun to give a listen to a little morse code at least once, and then forget about it!
What I say here applies at other locations in principle but with different frequencies and mix of navaids.
There are a number of radio navigational facilities associated with the Halifax Stanfield International Airport. These are as follows:
Two NDB's (Split Crow and Bluenose)
A localizer (Runway 05)
Two ILS systems
I have another page on this site that is intended to describe these facilities in detail, so will only mention the very basics here.
The NDB's are non-directional beacons on which an aircraft can home. They are old technology but can be very useful. In the Halifax setting there is an NDB (Split Crow) on the final approach path to Runway 05 operating on 364kHz, with a morse code identifier of ZHZ. This beacon is located at the TIR facility at Miller Lake on Perrin Drive. There is a similar NDB (Bluenose) located on Logan Road in the Dutch Settlement area, which lies on the approach to Runway 23. It operates on 385 kHz and has an identifier of ZNZ. Being on LF you will not be able to pick these up on a scanner, and instead you will need a communications receiver or something similar (or a capable SDR)
The other facilities can all be picked up on a normal modern scanner but you will likely need to be in the general vicinity of the airport to receive these, depending on your elevation and so on.
The VOR (VHF Omni Range Beacon) is located adjacent to the Old Guysborough Road in Devon. It is not on any of the approach paths. VOR's generally provide distance and bearing information to aircraft. The Halifax VOR is on 115.1 MHz and transmits a morse code identifier of YHZ. It can be heard about equally in all directions but is not optimized for listening from the ground.
The localizer is a stand-alone VHF beacon with a a very directional beam along a runway. The aircraft receiver displays whether the aircraft is right or left of the beam centre. The LOC for Runway 05 transmits on 109.9 MHz with the morse code IGX. The LOC antenna is a multi-element beam antenna located at the far end of the runway.
ILS is a more complex system consisting of two parts. There is an integrated LOC giving horizontal guidance, but it is paired with a UHF beacon that indicates in an aircraft whether it is above or below the recommended glide path (or glide slope) to a runway. There is an ILS on Runway 14 operating on 109.1 MHz for the localizer part, and 331.4 MHz for the glide path indicator. The morse ID is IHZ but you will only hear it on the VHF part. On the UHF you will only hear a carrier that will break the squelch but with no identification or other sounds. There is also an ILS on Runway 23 operating on 109.9 MHz for the VHF part, and 333.9 MHz for the UHF. The identifier is IJG. Note that the VHF frequency is the same one as is used for the LOC on Runway 05. Only one of them can operate at any given time. This is generally not a problem as only one direction of Runway 05/23 is used most of the time. Occasionally you will hear an approaching aircraft ask to use the opposite direction (the winds will be light) in non-visual conditions. The controller can say yes or no, and one of the factors is that the beacon for the active direction will have to be shut down, and the one for the other turned on, just to accommodate that pilot. It does happen on occasion. This comment should also tell you that these aids are only turned on when the applicable runway is in use. So if Runway 14 is not in use they will not usually have that ILS turned on. If you are at the airport you should be able to hear any of these that are turned on. Otherwise if you are merely in the vicinity you might not hear them unless they are both active and you are more or less along the approach path, as the signals are very directional. So, for example if you are south of the airport you will have to be quite close to hear the ILS for Runway 23.
Note that the beacon on 109.1 associated with ILS Runway 14 is also a DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) and may be constantly on.
Note that Runway 32 has nothing! It is a very active runway yet has no navaids. It does seem to me to be a strange thing, but it is unlikely to change as aeronavigation has in fact moved substantially towards other methods based on GPS, and making all of the above less and less relevant.
Listening to these is something you might only do once. I programmed them into my scanner, and basically they are now just a nuisance to lock out most of the time, though they do tell me which runways are in use. Next time I program the scanner I will take them out, or if I can spare a bank, put them there instead of in with the normal voice frequencies.