Aviation is definitely one of the most challenging fields in the world. There is need for everything to be in order so as to ensure the safety of everyone on board. Handheld Aviation radios are part of the most important things a pilot needs while flying. It is a communication tool that plays a significant role in the cockpit of any plane and needs to be in top shape for optimum safety. A safety-conscious pilot understands how important these devices are and the need to buy the very best ones.
If you are considering buying an aviation radio, the following list includes the 10 best aviation handheld radios put together after our extensive research.
Top 10 Best Aviation Handheld Radios
Yaesu has a great reputation and this device is one of the very best products they have made. It boasts of several wonderful features like full-spectrum aviation Communication/Navigation radio with NOAA weather channels & weather alerts; VOR navigation; ILS/glideslope navigation; and a 66-channel GPS WASS receiver. All these are packed into a compact handheld radio.
In terms of performance, this is definitely one of the very best aviation radios you will get. There is an 800 mW amplifier attached to the antenna that provides sufficient power to pick up signals. Asides from the fact that it enables crystal-clear two-way communication, the rather robust navigation systems we have mentioned earlier are good reasons to buy this particular aviation radio. The GPS navigation system is optimized for accuracy.
- It has more than 20 channels
- The radio has X5 IP Rating
- It has spurious emission of 70 Db
- Has navigation Aids VOR/ILS
- 800 Mw amplifier
- It is relatively expensive
This is another great product from Yaesu. It is an amazingly built device and boasts of an IPX5 water protection setting which means it can be used in different environments. Versatility is probably the most essential feature of the device. The Yaesu FTA550L has an amazing dot matrix 1.7” X 1.7” LCD display and an impressive user-friendly menu system. The backlight brightness is also adjustable to let the pilot use it comfortably in different situations.
In terms of navigation, the FTA550L is also a great device. When it picks up a VOR signal, it is automatically transmitted to the NAV screen. It also supports ILS localizer navigation. It can also store up to 200 memory channels.
- It is lightweight
- Quite versatile
- User-friendly interface
- Holds charge for quite a long time
- Works better with accessories
This is another amazing handheld aviation radio from Yeasu. It is very much like the two reviewed above, except for the fact that it is the “COMM ONLY” version. The FTA450L has the same relatively large 1.7”X 1.7” Full dot matrix Display with the same user-friendly icon driven menu.
As a COMM ONLY device, it was obviously designed with clarity in mind. There is an 800 mW internal audio speaker that is so loud that it is almost a guaranteed that call can never be missed. It also has a programmable 200 channel memory bank to save all preferred channels and retrieve them easily whenever there is need for that.
- Lightweight device
- Loud 800 mW audio output
- 8.33 kHz Narrow band compatible
- It is a highly valuable pack
- It has no Navigation system
- Not versatile
This is one of the very best all-round handheld aviation radios. It is the favorite of many pilots due to its numerous amazing features. For a start, it has an amazing solid build – it sacrifices fancy for enhanced functionality. The radio provides unrivaled reception, thanks to the antenna that is powered by a 6W amplifier. The one-handed operation feature is critical for most pilots. It supports 300 channel memory providing storage up to 10 flight plans and 300 waypoints.
For Navigation, the IC-A25N boasts of VOR navigation functions that will let the user stay true to course at all times. While the OBS mode enables you to change course from your original flight plan, the CDI mode shows the course deviation to/from a VOR station.
- 2350 mAh LI-ion battery pack
- VFO scan, memory-channel scan, priority scan
- Auto-noise limiting
- IP57 waterproof rating
- Provides audio alert
- Not quite easy to use
It is clear to see that this device was made with the student pilot in mind. It is a great invention in that regard and offers cost-effective means of pre-flight communication with aviation towers. The device is well-built in a compact body that is quite rugged and lightweight. It is also waterproof device and is rated IP67.
The transceiver receives NAV and WX channels and features both full keypad type and simple keypad type. For clear communication, the IC-A16B 1500mW internal speaker that can provide quite loud audio. It also has 200 channels that can be grouped into 10 memory banks for convenience. It also boasts of a strong battery (2400mAh capacity) and a built-in Bluetooth connectivity.
- 200 Channels
- LCD and key backlight
- Auto Noise limiting
- Internal VOX capability
- Includes high capacity battery
- Not too easy to use
This is more on the side of a valuable handheld “COMM ONLY” Airband transceiver. Besides the fact that it is an affordable option, this radio is superbly built. It is housed in a rugged polycarbonate case with an IPX5 waterproof rating, making it ideal for use in different situations. It is also very easy to use thanks to Yaesu’s E20 easy to operate menu system and the Dot Matrix display.
In terms of clarity, it is also properly equipped with a 700 mW audio output. It is also 8.33kHz Narrow Band capable with a massive programmable 250 channel capacity memory bank.
- An inexpensive aviation radio
- High capacity (1950mAh) LI-ion battery
- 3 years waterproof warranty
- Very easy to use
- Not so versatile
In a typical Icom style, the company made quite an impressive and easy to use device here. One of the most impressive things has to be the one-handed operation which ensures convenience. The A25C boasts of a large display that enables fast frequency recognition based on the way the letters and numbers are displayed. There is also a large keypad that is backlit, just like the display, to make the device usable in different lighting situations.
Some other impressive features of the Icom A25C include the 300 memory channels (20CH X 15 banks). There is equally an external aviation headset that can let you hear your own voice when using the Side tone function. The device will also store the last 10 channels so that you can easily recall them by using the flip-flop recall buttons.
- Auto Noise Limiter
- Easy to use transceiver
- Side tone function
- A little expensive
This is a two way radio from Icom that has all the cool features you can expect from a brand like Icom. The portable handheld radio comes with a 1150mAh Li-ion battery and .
The Icom ID-51A Plus2 has 1304 channels which includes repeater, program scan edges and call channels.
- Built-in GPS functionality
- 1304 channel capacity
- Terminal & Access Point Mode
- IPX7 Waterproof rating
- Send and receive pictures/text
- A little expensive
This is a mini UV Dual Band Mobile Radio that certainly rank among the very best of the handheld radios despite the fact that it is not a very expensive device. In spite of the inexpensive price of the UV-25X2 Mini it is quite versatile and will meet whatever your need is when it comes to VHF/UHF band communication. For clarity, the device is well-equipped for reliable and clear transmission. The ergonomic design and intuitive user controls enable the pilot/driver to use the radio conveniently in every situation.
The channel capacity of this device is also impressive at 200. It also has a frequency range of VHF: 136-174MHz; UHF: 400-520 MHz. The package comes with the Radio, DTMF microphone, DC Cable with Cigarette Plug Connector, Radio & Mic Brackets, Screws & Mounting Hardware, and User manual.
- Edit channels on the fly
- A highly versatile radio
- Remote stun
- Remote kill
- A valuable package
- Can get hot and malfunction
This is a VFH 136-174MHZ mobile transceiver. It is more of an Amateur compliant transceiver that has commercial grade features. It is a versatile device that can be used in a number of situation. Generally it is efficient for communication thanks to the impressive features. It has a frequency range of VHF: 137 -174MHz 245 -245.9875MHz (220-260MHz). UHF: 400-480MHz. The output power is VHF: 10W/25W/60W UHF: 45W/25W/10W.
The device has channel capacity of 200 and frequency stability of 2.5ppm.
Asides from the main functions, additional ones include voice commander, repeat offset shift, keypad lock function, contact book, bttery voltage display, Remote kill/stun/activate/revive, emergency alarm, channel name editing, voice prompt, talk around, and auto power off.
- 3 selectable power levels (DTMF, Keypad lock, Scan modes &more)
- Includes mounting bracket and fused power cable
- 200 channels
- A little bulky
While shopping for handheld aviation radios, it is not going to be easy to find out which ones are the best. Judging by what manufacturers claim, it will be impossible to make the right choice. Normally, each manufacturer will hype its own product as the very best. The amount of available options that claim to be the best will even confuse you.
To help you minimize the headache of trying to figure out which one to buy from the number of available options, we have researched the market well to present what we are certain represent the best products in the market.
Features to consider while buying a handheld aviation radio
As has been hinted earlier, there are certain things that must be considered before selecting a particular handheld aviation radio. For this guide, we considered each of the most important features in making our decision on what represent the best in this range of products.
The features you should pay attention to while shopping for handheld aviation radios are as follows:
The major purpose of the device is to facilitate communication. The quality of the communication should therefore be among the most important factors you must consider in making your decision about the one to buy. The quality of reception you will get with the device should be among the most influential factor when you are looking for the best handheld aviation device.
Asides from enabling two-way communication, most handheld aviation radios also plays a central role in navigation. They are equipped with navigation systems and this should be another factor you should look out for. There are radios that have robust navigation systems with GPS technology to make sure that headings are as accurate as it can be. Some even have some type of audio alerts that will help the pilot to stay on course even when he is not directly looking at the handheld aviation radio.
Though the prime purpose of aviation radios is communication, there are some other uses it can be put to. If you are interested in the sort of radios that will perform the purposes of communication and navigation as well as serve as the right tool for in any situation where remote handheld communication devices are indicated, there are some that are quite versatile.
Though you need the very best equipment, it doesn’t make sense paying more for less. The value offered by the device should also count. The price should be a true reflection of the utility the device should offer, and if you can get it at a bargain, that will be great. Here you will also see some of the inexpensive options that offer a lot in value.