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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.