In terms of current legislation you are absolutely correct in your identification of a scanner and a receiver as the same thing. Unfortunately the situation at present is that scanners (otherwise known as receivers with continuous tuning – and not necessarily automatically controlled!) are illegal equipment when they are capable of operating above 30 MHz, (the international broadcast and amateur bands are specifically excluded) unless approval has been granted for the possession and use of such by Icasa. Presently such approval is only granted on an individual basis to persons who can show that they have a need for such a device which cannot be satisfied by the use of any other device. Plane-spotters, pilots, ground staff and most other persons involved in the aeronautical field do not fall into this category, however, radio and electronic servicing and repair personnel and radio design engineers possibly would. In the present stage of radio and electronics development and availability, a very good argument may be made for relaxation of the regulation prohibiting scanners, which was most definitely relevant back in the 60’s when it was formulated but is arguably much less relevant today. To this end discussions are currently under way between the SA Radio League (the Ham organisation - SARL) and Icasa with the objective of reviewing the relevant regulation (previously regulation G14 in the old 1968 regs and now regulation 32 in the 2011 regs) and modifying or repealing it as deemed necessary.
It is regrettably still the case that there is no legal way for a person to be in possession of such a device, either on a licensed or unlicensed basis and albeit that the devices in question only have receive capability, apart from the scenario as indicated above for individual cases. Your suggestion of obtaining a "listener's licence" is off the mark as that would only entitle you to listen on the Amateur bands, however, I am interested in learning what licence you were granted after completing the course at Rand airport, as that may offer some hope to other potential users of such equipment, pending finalisation of the discussions with SARL.
In conclusion, the best advice I can presently offer anyone who is either in possession of such equipment, or who may be contemplating purchasing same, is not to freely advertise the fact as, in common with most other law-enforcement agencies, if we have a bad smell stuck under our noses, we have to do something about it!
Hopefully things will change in the near future but, in the meantime, stay legal!
Ciao for now
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Once again - thanks for taking the time to answer the questions.
Am I correct in saying that a receiver (no transmission) that can only receive on the 1090 Mhz frequency would require to be licensed under an aviation receiver license. ie the equipment would have to be ICASA approved. The actual unit will have to have a license but the operator would not require a license?
A ship is safe in a harbour, but that is not what it is built for.
1090 MHz lies in the band 960 - 1164 MHz which is allocated for aeronautical radionavigational systems. Effectively any device operating in this band for navigation purposes and installed in an aircraft would be considered to be part of the aircraft's radio installation and covered by the aircraft's radio station licence on which the equipment must be reflected, alternatively, if ground based equipment were to be used, it would need to be included on the radio licence for whichever ground station it is operated at or by. No operator's certificate would be required for aircraft-borne equipment as the relevant endorsement in the pilot's licence would cover it, however, for ground-based equipment whatever certificate is issued to ground-control staff would possibly be required. ICASA doesn't issue aeronautical operator certificates, which are all controlled by CAA, so it would be best to confirm certification requirements with them. However, as we are discussing navigational as opposed to communication equipment, it is possible that, provided the equipment is listed on the ground-station licence, no additional operator certification would be required.
As far as type-approval is concerned, this is somewhat of a "grey area". According to international law which is reflected in the provisions of the ITU Radio Regulations, all aeronautical radiocommunication equipment must comply with stipulated internationally accepted standards, therefore no additional type-approval should be required by individual administrations such as RSA (the same applies to a greater or lesser degree to marine and amateur radiocomms equipment). Our own type-approval regulations only speak to “ground-based aeronautical VHF radio communications equipment, operating in the frequency range 118 to 136.975 MHz”, as being required to be type-approved locally. Therefore the inference may fairly be made that radiocommunication equipment installed and used in an aircraft is not subject to type-approval as it is not “ground-based”. However, the section concerned identifies ground-based equipment as comprising base station, mobile and hand-held/portable applications, which of course may be performed by exactly the same radios as would be installed or used on an aircraft. So on the one hand the equipment is required to be type-approved locally and on the other hand it is not! Somewhat confusing to say the least! And so far I have been unable to further clarify the situation with my HQ, who just don’t respond to my questions.
I shall however keep trying to elicit a response and will post it on the forum when, and if, one is received.
Ciao for now - Peter