Use of 122.80 at ATC unattended airport


Could someone high up in VATSIM please give the latest word on the use of 122.80 please?

Code of Conduct says;

B5 Pilots flying through uncontrolled airspace shall monitor VHF radio frequency 122.800 or other designated “UNICOM” frequency until they come under air traffic control coverage. Where another pilot may benefit, a pilot shall transmit their intentions on the designated unicom frequency.

Its the final line. Last night I was at NZAA. I am in the airspace and can be seen. There were two other aircraft using AKL. One was landing, the other was at gate.

Neither of them broadcast on 122.80.

It was only because I did a finals lookout before I lined up to see the landing plane.

I was in an IFR circuit at 4,000ft and passing 5nm on ILS the other aircraft lined up.

I had given mulitple calls of my location downwind, turning base, becoming established on ILS.

Got to the point where I was 2nm and he hadn’t moved, then he went TOGA and departed.

Fom asking both via messaging why they weren’t talking on 122.80 they both said they were sending Texts on 122.80.

I use SWIFT but do not have the Text recieve function active. Mainly as I’ve been a pilot since NZ Summer 1986 and cannot believe a pilot can fly and send a text!

How easy is it to PTT on 122.80?

We have an unattended frequency real world in NZ - 119.10. Its for use by all aircraft at airfields/airports where there is no ATC.

Noone sends a message via AvPlan or another client. They open their mouths after pressing the PTT button!

I would have thought last night that I was ‘the other pilot that may benefit’!

I cant seem to find a ruling on use of 122.80.

Fall back to CoC seems to be the answer. But in 2023 with busy skies at times - VATNZ gets mad busy at times! - there needs to be a ruling from Board re the use of 122.80.

In CoC it says; ‘a pilot shall transmit their intentions on the designated unicom frequency.’

Not what TRANSMIT means. A text is a transmission!

Someone please?

Regards from me Down Under in Middle Earth!

CoC A14 states that

A14 Voice is the preferred method of communication on VATSIM. Account holders should use voice if able to do so but must accommodate the use of text. Only unaltered speech is permitted to be transmitted.

You may or may not like it, but you are in the wrong here. You have to accomodate pilots who decide to use text - and that includes reading what’s sent on unicom.
(One could even argue that you should broadcast your intentions via text once you see somebody else using text, as we don’t require people to be able to receive voice. Such pilots can only learn about your intentions if you type them out.)


Thanks for coming back. I was wondering if my words would just sit idly in cyber-space!

Get what you’re saying but its 2023.

Isn’t it time to bring things to the reality of unattended airfields and require actual talk?

Text was the way on 122.80 in the 90’s. Was all the rage.

The Clients to connect to VATSIM back then had a very good text system with shortcuts if I recall that made it very easy to transmit what you were doing.

I use SWIFT. It has text but its clunky.

Plus I cant see how a pilot can fly and text!!

Not everybody using VATSIM is physically able to speak. Using text is acceptable.

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Hmmm DB.

I fail to see how a PTT and a few words is easier than typing and texting.

Though latest modern airliners do have that as part of their operation!

People with a speech impairment have a place here as well. I’m sure they can easily debate against you how much easier it is to “typing an texting” instead of “a PTT and a few words”

and for saying it’s 2023, the future is actually texting, not talking:

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Hahaha yup texting does seem to be the way we’re going!

My fear as a 28 year Radio Broadcaster who talks to everyone around him - even total strangers! - is that we will lose the ability to talk to one another.

From watching it seems you can do everything via a message. Anything!

I’m a vox guy but I monitor text on 122.80 using vPilot. And, about 15 minutes before landing, I post a txt message like: “EGLL traffic, rwy 27R ETA 1430Z, vox 122.80”. That way, the texters will know I’m coming and keep an eye out (hopefully) and text their intentions (again, hopefully).

While it’s a given for many of us, we have to acknowledge that some pilots may be challenged financially, or technologically, and in other ways.

I’ve encountered blind pilots in Cross The Pond events; I understand there’s special assistive software that makes simming possible although I think the developer abandoned it.

If Swift doesn’t do text well, perhaps there’s an alternative client. For MSFS, P3D, FSX et al, I recommend vPilot. Not sure what’s out there for X-Plane.


Correct. It never happens in my experience. There are many times I can’t use voice (mostly technical, but situational also) and have always given text on 122.80 as follows;
TOD - friendly Dist, Radial, FL, Est for final and intended rwy.
50-30M - Dist, Radial, Altitude, planned rwy
BASE - Turning base rwy xx
Clear - Clear rwy

I have had almost on every occasion not one response or other text come in when there are numerous acft landing, on ground and departing.

It has become worse since the change to the rules, and now we can actually see what frequencies an client is on, it easy to see that not many tune to 122.800 at all.

Umm… we’ve been text since the inception of the network as well as SATCO. That’s going back at least 25 years.

But let’s turn this around the other way, and talk about the other side of the impediment: Those who are hearing impaired. No matter how hard one tries to speak, or even how loud they speak, those words on a voice UNICOM will fall on deaf ears (pun both intended and not intended) if someone is hearing impaired. If someone physically does have the ability to hear you, how is any required voice on UNICOM going to help them?

Hence, they transmit over text, and why all pilots at a given uncontrolled field should be monitoring the CTAF for the field (on VATSIM, we have defined the CTAF to be UNICOM). Ideally, if the tower was closed, normally the tower frequency would be the CTAF, while pilots would have comms over that while monitoring UNICOM.

But to mandate a voice UNICOM would be wrong for the speaking and hearing impairments already mentioned, which is why it goes against the CoC.



SATCO, thats a word I’ve not heard in many years!

I started online flying in 1996 and do remember the client we used to connect had a very good text system.

Understand what you say, I’m only trying to get something so that 122.8 will be used by pilots who are able to say where they are and what they’re doing as opposed to just a text.

I dont have my client setup for text.

Why NZ has 119.10 unattended, and everywhere else in the world the same.

I’ve been a pilot since 1986 and always used the radio. Except for the off time I’ve been NORDO in a Tiger Moth and relied on lights from TWR or signals from ground station at an unattended airfield!

Why not add a quick voice call to a text message?

Though how a pilot can fly and text is beyond me!


When I am flying on the simulator, I am not always able to talk. Some other household member may be on an actual work call, for exemple. This situational circumstance adds to other technical circumstances one or another may encounter and that would prevent them from using the voice communications.

Your quote of regulation B5 and especially the line you are referring to (“a pilot shall transmit their intentions on the designated unicom frequency.”) does not mention voice or text. It just says to transmit on the frequency. Both ways of communication fulfill the requirement.

At the end of the day, regulation has the final word.

  • A14 Voice is the preferred method of communication on VATSIM. Account holders should use voice if able to do so but must accommodate the use of text. Only unaltered speech is permitted to be transmitted.

If you think that the rules should be reviewed and changed, you can submit a request to



The other issue is the use of VR and attempting to text. Currently, I’m using vPilot with VSR and the all-in-one tablet to provide VATSIM info while in headset. I’ve asked the question in another posting, but I’m not sure how to 122.8 text using VSR/vPilot while in VR. The other option is to lower the headset and text on 122.8 on the dedicated vPilot window on the second monitor. I’ve been a VATSIM user since 2006 (squawkbox days) and would always text intent on 122.8 in the absence of any ATC, certainly in critical phases such as takeoff/departure and approaches.

Let’s step back just a little bit.

The point of Unicom is to allow aircraft to broadcast their position and intentions when in airspace occupied by other aircraft, especially at, and around, airports, when there is no ATC online.
The purpose is to allow the safe and expeditious flow of air traffic.

Use of Unicom is enabled in both text and in ‘voice’ in order to cope with the varied needs of those using the VATSIM network (we are a variously ‘abled’ bunch). Whether one style of use is easier than another is irrelevant. Its use is mandated in the VATSIM regulations and Code of Conduct.

What users will find odd is that many will fly on VATSIM without ever using Unicom at all. This seems pointless and helps no-one. Why fly on VATSIM if you don’t communicate with others?


Another thing to add is if I’m hand-flying the airplane, I’m not an octopus. I don’t have the hands to type anything into the text box if I’m going to maintain control of the airplane. I tried doing that for a frequency change the other day, and in the process, I busted the altitude I was supposed to be descending to whilst simultaneously went faster than I was supposed to.

Kevin, you can use voice on Unicom, so no need to type anything.

Yes, I’m aware of that, been doing it the last few years now. The point I was getting at was that whilst I understand that using voice isn’t practical for some people, there are certain situation where text isn’t practical, either. Richard’s situation with VR is one instance, me trying to hand-fly the airplane is another.

Well, eventually you might encounter a txt only controller, at which point you’ll have no choicen but to type everything out. Just like pilots aren’t required to receive or transmit voice, controllers aren’t either.

Aside: I finally figured out recently that, in the VPilot app, if you hear a brief “scratchy” sound, it’s not simulated radio garbling, but it means that a text message just came through on your current frequency.