It’s no secret I am a sucker for a good a aviation radio for my pilot bag. I’ve written about the aviation transceiver that I own and love dearly already. So if you would like a comprehensive review of that feel free to take a gander. Here is a handheld aviation radio comparison of some of the top radios.
In all honesty there are plenty of high quality handheld aviation radios that a pilot can entertain during their time choosing which one to add to their bag. This is a good time to mention that owning a handheld radio I believe is one of the simplest and safest things you can do as a pilot. Radios fail all the time, so having a backup handheld just incase just makes sense.
Let’s dig into some of the popular models and break them down by price points and features so that no matter your budget we can get you a handheld radio.
|Model||Important Features||Price Range|
|Yaesu FTA550 Handheld VHF Transceiver||• AA & Li-ion battery options|
• Strong build quality
• Small in size
|Icom IC-A14 VHF Air Band transceiver||• Includes LI-ion battery and charger|
• 700mW with built-in BTL amplifier
• 5 watts of transmit power
• LI-ion battery pack 2000mAh
• Low battery indication and beep alert
|Icom IC -A6 Com Radio||• Simple one hand operation|
• Flip flop channel recall
• External dc power jack
• Includes headset adapter
|Yaesu FTA750L Handheld VHF Transceiver / GPS||• Built-In GPS|
• VOR and ILS Navigation
• Large LCD Display
• 200 Memory Channels
• Memory Recall
As if that radio comparison side by side wasn’t enough read below for more in-depth thoughts into each handheld aviation radio model.
Handheld Aviation Radio Comparisons
Yaesu FTA550 Handheld VHF Transceiver
Like I mentioned earlier I have written about this transceiver before and I truly do love the build quality of it. For being the lowest priced radio in this bunch, I have a hard time finding build quality that could get much better between the others. It’s small and rugged and has held up like new for the last two years of owning this.
Now the FTA-550 comes in an AA battery and a Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery option. While the Li-on option is about $90 more than the standard AA version, I would have to say that it will definitely save you money in the long run. Me being cheap, I got the AA version which I am totally happy with, but can see the value in the other.
This aviation radio has a rating of 4.1 out of 5 on Amazon.
Icom IC-A14 VHF Air Band transceiver
This air band transceiver has been around for a while. It’s loud, compact and comes standard with a 2000mAh Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery which is the largest battery power in this lineup. Icom is a longstanding trusted brand in aviation, and as opposed to Yaesu (who are a bit newer in the space), Icom have a long history of crafting high quality aviation radios.
If you purchase from Amazon it comes standard with an antenna and a recharging station to keep this sucker working for a long time.
Bonus: this A14 boasts the highest rating in this comparison of 4.6 out of 5 stars from reviewers which is very positive.
Icom IC -A6 Com Radio
Next up is the Icom IC-A6 which in price is just a bit higher than it’s brother above. To be honest the value propositions from the A14 to this one here are very similar. With a 1480mAh battery, battery life on this can be assumed to not be quite as long as it’s brother. However, aesthetically things change greatly.
I will say that where this radio shines most is in it’s user experience. The touchpad is one of my favorites in the line up. It is simple and straightforward so you get to the channel you want without any added hassle or confusion.
Yaesu FTA750L Handheld VHF Transceiver / GPS
Last bust certainly not least is the FTA750L which if you can assume is the brother to the Yaesu FTA550 that I currently own and love. While the price tag is surely the highest in this lineup of handheld aviation radios, there are plenty of reasons for that. Not only does it do the basic functions of transcieving which you are likely mainly concerned with while looking to purchase a radio, it also has built in GPS, VOR, and ILS capabilities. Crazy!
Now, I don’t really understand what the attraction to having these features in a handheld radio would be, but it has them none the less. Pack it full with AA’s or utilize it’s 1800mAh Lithium-Ion battery for trips around the pattern or days spent plane spotting at the local airport.
This radio surely has the gamut of features and it looks to be built with the same quality as the one I currently own. Not that I recommend nor do I use navigating functions on a radio, but if you want a compact all in one fail safe option for your backup handheld this could be the one for you.
All in all folks, I truly believe that this handheld aviation radio comparison will surely do you well for the years to come as a pilot or plane spotter.
Let us know in the comments below which one you purchased, how you like it, or if you have any questions!