Simple, basic and beautifully designed
Icom IC-A16E 8.33/25 khz Ground to Air Support Radio. Typical price £276 inc VAT
Icom tells Pilot its new IC-A16E air band transceiver has been specifically designed for airside ground crew who provide aviation support.
Compact, lightweight and having a high capacity (2,400mah) lithiumion battery pack, it is claimed to be capable of providing up to seventeen hours of typical operation, so it can be used all day without recharging.
Transmitting power is six Watts – enough to cover the largest of airports and get signals through and around thick walls and metal hangars, says Icom. It has ‘classleading’ 1500mw loud and powerful audio output to cut through environmental noise. And it’s rugged and rain-resistant too – enough for ‘the rigours of the aviation market’ (and perhaps to survive an in-flight emergency or ditching and remain operable as a stand-by pilot radio).
Aimed at large operations where shift workers may use it, the ICA16E really is easy and intuitive to operate. It boasts 200 memory channels, each allocated and eight alphanumeric LCD characters. A low battery indicator and beep alert are also standard features. Other welcome features include up to five minutes voice recording/ playback (never again say “say again”) and built-in Bluetooth for hands-free operation/connection to suitable headsets. The LCD and keypad are backlight for night time operation.
We didn’t try our sample at night, but took it to a private fly-in, where everyone was impressed with how easy it was to use, how well it worked and how compact it is. The low price also provoked a bit of thought, the consensus being that the IC-A16E would be a nice unit to use in vintage Permit aircraft, homebuilts and ultralights, where compact dimensions, simple operation and low cost are valued (we’ve fed this back to Icom).
As supplied at the moment, the IC-A16E comes with BP-280 battery pack, BC-213 rapid charger, AC adapter, FA-B02AR antenna, MB-133 belt clip and hand strap. It’s not as cheap as the opposition’s similar, basic handheld, but it feels and looks especially well made (even the charger has a metal baseplate and sits solidly on the desk top). For cockpit use, the thing that is missing is a headset adapter. Icom does supply one separately, but it appears to be neither easy to find or inexpensive.
The IC-A16E is a super groundto-air support transceiver. The only improvement we can think of is supplying it with that headset adaptor as a pilot radio.