Wouxun Goes Airband!

Episode 177 of The Two Way Radio Show Podcast is out! Wouxun has made serious inroads into the world of FRS, GMRS, CB and business communications in just a few short years. So it should come as no surprise that they are entering another arena as well, with the introduction of their first portable handheld VHF radio for aviation, the KG-S74A!

Comments and feedback are welcome and could get you some swag if they are read on the show!

TWRS-177 - The Wouxun KG-S74A VHF Aviation Radio

Show Notes:
TWRS-177 - The Wouxun KG-S74A VHF Aviation Radio (buytwowayradios.com)

I’m not an aviator, plus I have an amateur HT that can receive and scan the air band but this sounds like a great little radio. I do have a friend who is a private pilot. and I have sent him the link to the podcast. I have the KG-S88G and it is a great little radio that is built tough. It is a great single purpose radio when all the bells and whistles on the KG-935G are superfluous. The USB-C is more of a plus than I thought it would be. I enjoyed the podcast.


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To the best of my knowledge, the aviation HT market is currently being dominated by Japanese brands such as ICom and Yaesu. Their radios are of exceptional quality, highly advanced and are comparable to the new Wouxun radio. In my opinion, Wouxun is a Chinese brand that aspires to be high-end, but I do not believe that they can sustain their position in this market. The aviation industry is not like other industries, and any failure can have severe consequences. Furthermore, I have concerns about the manufacturing quality of Chinese products, which may not be as high as those from other countries.

I wonder how many people will buy them and use them illegally.

Good point, but I think the cost factor plus how severe Industry Canada or the FCC will investigate and prosecute may deter the kids or the hunters who are currently using marine radios. That price point is not that unusual. I think I paid less than that (in 1978 dollars of course) for a King handheld NavCom radio.

What I would like to know is how many people might be attracted to the radio for use as an airband scanner. There are some great scanners on the market but there are many people like myself who are dedicated to airband. If the Wouxun transceiver can receive airband frequencies better or clearer than some of the good scanners on the market, that might be an untapped market.

Maybe buytwowayradios can send one to a tester for comparison purposes. I would do that. (Plus, I also have my aviation radiotelephony licence too, even if I never use it to transmit.)

I have never seen a good double-blind A/B comparison test of an aviation transceiver versus a good scanner. I have the Icom R6 which is probably one of the best scanners on the market, but it suffers from massive ergonomic issues.

I am sure there will be illegal use, as that happens in all services. However, I think the price point will be deter most people. GMRS probably has more unlicensed user than licensed, but I would imagine the vast majority of those unlicensed are using cheap bubble pack radios rather than a $100+ radio. Same with the Amateur bands. I think most people spending several hundred dollars on a HT will be licensed and trying to follow the rules. Those that don’t care would probably be using a baofeng for the low price point. And then there is the fact that a license and a quality radio don’t keep some people from being idiots and operating illegally. Anybody listened to 2m repeaters lately? A million years ago in another life I worked in public safety and every now and then we would have a moron intentionally interfering with law enforcement communications. Those people are out there.

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While testing the radio I spent a lot of time monitoring aviation traffic in my area, as my home is right under the flight path to a major international airport. It was actually quite fascinating to hear the comms between the pilots and the tower.

So, yes, I am sure there will be those who will buy the S74A strictly as an airband scanner, as depending on your area there is a lot to hear on that band. As for illegal use, it’s no different than an Icom or other brand of aviation radio.If someone is going to use it illegally, the brand doesn’t matter. It could happen with any aviation radio.

For the record, the KG-S74A is FCC type accepted and FAA approved for aviation use.


I for one am pleased to see emerging new products. Choice for customers is important. I sell aviation hand helds. Yaesu mainly. These new radios are not cheap enough for people to buy for trivial use, which is good. Airband is not done well on the usual handheld radios that have AM reception. The stupid channel band planning means that radios have to be able to cope with the weird narrow spacing, but also the correct display of these frequencies in the display. None of the receive only radios seem to do this. My usual suppliers cannot supply me yet, initial deliveries going to the US, not Europe.

Remember too, that aviation is very safety based, so many purchasers want a spare radio for emergencies. A very expensive one that may never get used might be an extravagance. On the other hand, light weight aircraft and parachute based flying need cheaper radios to actually use, on a budget. Panel mounted radios need fitting by certified engineers and cost an awful lot of money. Oddly most aircraft don’t legally have to even have a radio, but pilots would nowadays be considered stupid to fly without. I will stock these as soon as I can buy them for the price that is economic.

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I am an aviator and I’m also glad to see wouxun manufacturing aviation radios. As Rick and others stated above the FCC make sure that the product meets strict standards and quite frankly those aren’t easily met. I will probably purchase an Wouxun S74A as a backup radio just in case my avionics comms go berserk or die.

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I’m a private pilot and was looking for an HT as a backup. ICOM, Yaesu, and Sporty’s dominate this market as previously stated. I’m also HAM and GMRS licensed and have several Chinese HTs (Baofeng, Wouxun, and TIDRadio) so I thought this would be something to check out. I bought the KG-S74A and at first thought it would work out great. Unfortunately, it had one serious drawback in that the squelch is buried in the menus. Primary functions such as squelch need to be easily accessed while flying. If not for that, I would have kept it. Instead, I returned it and bought an ICOM IC-A16B which has two side-buttons for squelch up/down.

Yaesu do a couple of quite price effective radios the 250 and 550 and they offer a dry battery version which is great for emergency use. Just keep a pack of long dated Duracells handy and you never become radioless.

The new radio seems to me to be fine though. I’m a little confused about the squelch. Air band squelch setting is rarely a problem and I’m wondering why you need to keep adjusting it. The icoms I have are a pain because he knobs often mean my stubby fingers turn the squelch off when turning up the volume as it works backwards to other radios. Squelch in a menu sounds good to me?

I find that I often need to adjust the squelch to filter out noise from distant traffic and airports that are on the same frequency. Several of the airports in my area share the same UNICOM frequencies. Perhaps just the nature of AM and/or the electrically-noisy Cessnas I fly? I like easy access to squelch.

Another issue with the KG-S74A is that the squelch doesn’t change until you exit the menu item so you don’t get immediate feedback on the change adding to the trickiness and something that would be distracting in an emergency situation.

I agree, a squelch knob next to the volume can be problematic. I like the way ICOM solved it with the side-buttons.

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Here is a question for all of you. It has been many years since I have flown an airplane, and I perhaps may never get back into the cockpit but I still like to monitor the airwaves. I have a very good scanner (Icom IC-R6) and it receives very well, but of course trying to receive from the ground with a handheld scanner is not easy. Here is my question. Have any of you folks ever compared the reception of a handheld aviation transceiver against a good scanning receiver?

yep - the aviation radio is worse. The design of aviation radios is to provide good comms and prevent bad comms. Not only is the squelch different, it’s differing from a scanner because on your scanner, they’re designed to open on weak signals as well as strong ones. Airband dedicated radios tend to be much more binary - open or closed, but not on the edge.

The upshot is that with an Icom A16, which lives in the office, my local traffic from the airfield 8 miles away rarely opens the squelch. It’s also in the scanner which often gives me snippets of the conversations. If you back off the squelch, the noise is a warmer sort of hiss, less annoying and the same weak conversations can be heard. Rotate the squelch till the noise stops and those weak signals do not get through - they do on the scanner.