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Why 123.025?


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I think that because in the LA basin area (if that's the one you are referring to) there are quite a few ships up there in uncontroled airspace at any given moment, so it makes sense to have a common frequency where everybody is reporting every once in a while his/her position, for collision avoidance purposes.

 

And again, if it is L.A. basin you are talking about, please note that 123.02 is for up to a mile north of 91. Southern than that and the frequency changes to 122.85.

 

but anyway, I am sure that there are many more experienced pilots here, that can provide with even better/more accurate answers than mine...

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A few that come to mind for me is maybe the lower altitude that helicopters can operate at, and the different operations that we do compared to fixed wing. During Hurricane Katrina relief, 123.025 was well used in our aircraft during operations there. Airplane traffic added to that would've been nuts.

Edited by superstallion6113
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While Googling I found this PDF of the Forestry Services "Professional Helicopter Pilot Guide". It provided a little history. It would appear our system of using 123.025 began in fire fighting, and has continued to evolve.

 

From Chapter 5 titled "Fire Organization", page 32

HELITACK CREWS

History

The first helitack crew was activated in

1957 on the Angeles National Forest. Helitack

crews were developed out of the need to have

firefighters trained in the use of helicopters in

the initial attack phase of wildland fires. These

crews were also trained in aircraft use to support

an on-going fire, in areas such as personnel

transport, cargo hauling, medivac services,

etc. The original concepts which lead to the

development of helitack crews are still in place

and are still the driving forces.

 

 

From "Exhibit 2- Incident Aviation Communications, Functions, and Frequencies", page 124, under "Air-to-Air On Complex Incidents"

 

On complex incidents, Air-to-Air

radio traffic will be excessive if

only one Air-to-Air frequency is

used. It should be split into one for

fixed-wing and one for helicopters.

The first AM Air-to-Air frequency

that was assigned to the incident

by the dispatcher should be used

for Fixed-Wing Air-to-Air.

A second AM frequency should be

assigned as Helicopter Air-to-Air.

This frequency should also be used

for Helicopter Flight Following. Using

this frequency for both functions

reduces radio traffic since flight

following helicopters can be done

by monitoring this frequency from

the Helibase. It also maintains the

required number of frequencies

monitored by helicopter pilots at

two, one AM for Flight Following

and Air-to-Air, and one FM for Tactical.

The following frequencies have been

approved by the FAA nation wide

on a first come first use basis for

helicopter Air-to-Air communications:

122.975, 123.025, 123.075, and

122.850. These may or may not be

available and must be authorized

for use the Agency Dispatcher and/

or Communications Unit. If they

are not available for immediate

use, the Agency Dispatcher will

be able to provide an alternative

frequency.

The Primary Airtanker Frequency,

122.925, can be used in situations

where time is critical. This frequency

has been assigned by the FAA nation

wide for use by all natural resource

agencies. It is not used exclusively

by USDA/USDI aircraft. If this

frequency is used it should be replaced

as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

Professional Helicopter Pilot Guide.pdf

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I think its just a common freq and has stuck with the most used for helis. I presume there is no special reason.

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This is the freq that should be used when not in "airspace" or out in the middle of nowehere. In my area, this freq is used all of the time when transitioning. If you have a metro area that is not inside a designated airspace, helicopters will be using this freq when passing through. You will have people doing tours around landmarks, EMS operators enroute, news copters, flight instruction, military helicopters, etc and they will make position reports to let other helicopters know they are in the area and their intentions.

 

Also, be familiar with the EMS bases and hospitals that have helipads in your area. If these are not close to an airport then the pilots will most likely use 123.02 when approaching and landing. I'd also recommend having the fixed wing air-air freq handy on holidays.

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Within my company if we have mutiple helicopters out in an area, we'll designate using "fingers" which is 123.45. It's easy to remember for even new guys.

Aka "progressive".

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To take this a little farther. It should be noted as another poster said, 123.025 should be used by helicopters when outside of B,C,D airspace or not INVO an airport with a CTAF. This is a designated helicopter air to air freq.

 

Take for example Las Vegas. There are a lot of EMS operations between Vegas and the Colorado River down to Parker,AZ and also out to the Grand Canyon. Those helicopters will be reporting their location on 123.025 when no other prevalling freq. exists. I have come across many helicopters out there that are not on 123.025 or a local freq and would have no idea what their intentions were.

 

The exception to 123.025 is going to be in Los Angeles,CA. There you will find such a high number of helicopters in uncontrolled airspace that due to freq. congestion the spilt the area up and use 122.85 as well as 123.025.

 

It is also good to know he airplane air to air freq of 122.75. Airplanes use this for the same reasons we do. Again, the exception would be in Los Angeles due to congestion it will be different so consult a current chart. In fact, that should be part of your flight planning. In the San Francisco Bay area we use the Golden Gate freq. designated for that area.

 

Lastly, 123.025 while it is air to air is shouldn't be used to discuss upcoming weekend plans with a fellow pilot. That is not what it is for. I have had to ask others to stop talking about such topics so I could talk to another helicopter which was landing at the same location as I was.

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Any estimates on how many helicopters are flying over Los Angeles at any time? I'm mostly familiar with the areas around VNY and the Robinson practice areas. On average, I hear 4-5 actively reporting.

 

Also, I know of a CFI who taught his students how to remember the air-to-air frequency by the following memory mnemonic.

 

"one, two, three, or to die"

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The Sunset Flights returning to KLAS can number close to 50 helicopters. Maverick alone has something like 20+ helicopters. The scary thing is about 20 East of Las Vegas all these helicopters are merging into single file from three directions.

 

As for Los Angeles, there are to many to count. Maybe not as many as Las Vegas but, in Vegas the vast majority are tours and are always on established routes so it's very predictable as to where someone is and where they are going to be. In L.A. that is not the case.

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