Let's talk about GUARD

Let's talk about GUARD

Postby Keith Smith » Thu Feb 21, 2019 7:08 am

Let's talk about GUARD, the emergency frequency (121.5) that is intended to be used for pilots and controllers to reach each other in case of a frequency change mishap or an emergency, or for Delta pilots to accidentally make their ride reports and get mocked accordingly.

On PilotEdge, you've always been able to communicate with controllers on 121.5, but it wasn't isolated, meaning you'd hear non-emergency traffic, too. This prevented pilots from monitoring GUARD on COM2, a common and very sound real-world practice that's recommended in the Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM).

As of this morning, we've made behind-the-scenes changes to improve how GUARD is handled. You'll now only hear GUARD transmissions on 121.5. Feel free to start monitoring GUARD on COM2, and use it as you would in the real world if you need to reach ATC when other frequencies aren't working, or when you weren't in contact with ATC and you need emergency assistance. Enjoy!
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Re: Let's talk about GUARD

Postby BFG » Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:11 am

Great! Yer on gauuurd!
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Re: Let's talk about GUARD

Postby Kilstorm » Thu Feb 21, 2019 9:25 am

What would be some radio call examples to use this freq in the real world and the sim for a non-emergency to get intouch with ATC during a hand over or on initial contact? A couple examples from my student pilot lessons where an issues has surfaced was:

1) I was cleared for an approach into Class C Sanford Intl Florida airspace on my first solo xc flight and the radio kinda went silent. The freq I was on didnt match the one on the chart for that visual approach. After a few call attempts on my current APP freq who was covering me with FlightFlo returned unanswered, I switched to the publish APP freq and made a few attempts to reach them prior to entering Class C. I got no response so I returned to the previous controller, did a 180 to stay outside of the Class C and diverted to an uncontrolled field nearby thinking on this rental plane I might of lost radio comms?! A pilot in the pattern at the uncontrolled field said that he could hear my radio check call when I asked so I felt comfortable making the landing using normal uncontrolled radio work.

As for another time

2) I was with a CFI and we had filed an IFR FP in VFR wx to finish my hours needed for my PPL to fly by reference of nav aids on a xc flight from N.C. to S.C. on our flight down from Mass to Fla. After departure from an uncontrolled field, he tried to pick up his IFR clearance with the listed APP controller. For this flight since I was going to be using Foggles he wanted to do the radio work so I believe he used ForeFlight to obtain the APP freq. He did not ever reach an controller on that freq and since I was busy flying the plane I didnt see how he picked a different controller to establish his clearance.

Now both of these examples I would still not want to use 121.5 to overcome my situations but since the 121.5 is a freq that could be used to re-establish two radio comms with the correct controller, I'm wondering what would be some examples of a radio call transmission on the initial call in for a non emergency atc freq request and what would be a following radio call? Would one start with something like what they would when picking up FlightFlo with plane, location and request and use On Guard to establish that it is on the 121.5 freq? Following that would the call be Cessna 123AB is looking for a working channel for my area to contact ATC as Im not reaching what should be the controller listed on my charts?

The one area that PE does do a good job with compared to real world is ATC coverage beyond normal radio range to the ground both from the planes radio and the controllers radio. In my real world flights a few times I've been told by the controller they are having a hard time hearing me because I am on the fringe of their service area with my planes alt and xmiting radio equipment.
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Nantucket, MA
Cherokee N569FL
Rocky Mountain Airways DHC6 N24RM
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Re: Let's talk about GUARD

Postby skyegurl » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:31 pm

Random question on 121.50 do Pan-Pan calls exist in the US?

I know in the UK they do and assuming nobody is needing it you can request to do a practice pan call on 121.50 in the UK for practice with what to expect if you ever need a PAN/MADAY (even being asked to squawk 7700 and ident)
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Re: Let's talk about GUARD

Postby kevin meyers » Thu Feb 28, 2019 10:17 pm

I have never heard of a practice pan pan or mayday call in the US. Pan-Pan is a thing, but possibly only due to the foreigners bringing it over. Realistically, in the US, I think it’s mostly “mayday” or more commonly just explaining the problem. For example, USA1549 that landed on the Hudson River. Sully didn’t say “mayday mayday, we hit birds.” He just explained that he hit birds and he needed to land.

I’m not sure why it is, but Mayday and especially Pan-Pan seem to be far more popular overseas.
Kevin Meyers
Retired PilotEdge Air Traffic Controller / Instructor
Dallas, Texas
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Re: Let's talk about GUARD

Postby zerofay32 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 5:38 am

Check out AIM 6-3-1 Destress and Urgency Communications.

Basically, MAYDAY is for a Distress situation and PANPAN is for an Urgent situation. The only difference is subtle, urgent calls have priority over all other calls except distress, distress calls have priority over everything.


It has always been my understanding that using either is to get ATC attention when you are not in contact with them (ie not under flight following or IFR) Otherwise just declare an emergency with the controller who already knows who you are.
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Re: Let's talk about GUARD

Postby Les Parson » Sat Mar 02, 2019 4:58 pm

kevin meyers wrote:I have never heard of a practice pan pan or mayday call in the US. Pan-Pan is a thing, but possibly only due to the foreigners bringing it over. Realistically, in the US, I think it’s mostly “mayday” or more commonly just explaining the problem. For example, USA1549 that landed on the Hudson River. Sully didn’t say “mayday mayday, we hit birds.” He just explained that he hit birds and he needed to land.

I’m not sure why it is, but Mayday and especially Pan-Pan seem to be far more popular overseas.


I'm a former USAF/FAA controller and Kevin Meyers is 100% on target. I never heard anybody declare "PAN PAN" in 20 years.
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