Aftermarket Receivers, Your Responsibilities.
The subject of aftermarket receivers, particularly on the 2.4GHz band has become something of a hot topic recently and I have received a considerable number of queries from members so I thought that it would be useful to outline the current position.
Whilst there are well defined compliance requirements for transmitters on 2.4GHz which are essentially outlined by the ETSI standard EN300-328, this standard makes little reference to the receiver end of things, with fairly good reason.
The main purpose of the standard is to define protocols that ensure transmitting equipment does not interfere with other users sharing the same frequency band (in this case 2.4GHz) so by default concentrates on the transmitting equipment.
Given that there are little in the way of compliancy requirements for receiving equipment where does this leave the end user wanting to purchase and operate a receiver from another manufacturer?
The presence of a CE marking is a good starting point but as ever is not the full story, the presence of a CE mark doesn’t guarantee compliancy and the absence of one doesn’t automatically render a piece of equipment unlawful to use.
From an end user point of view the safest option is still to purchase recognised equipment that been supplied through the recognised importer for the brand of equipment (sound familiar?).
However there are a number of low cost receivers becoming available that can be bound to transmitters supplied by many of the established brands.
Given the absence of compliancy requirements for such units it really comes down to consumer choice and fitness for purpose and ultimately the Air Navigation Order.
In law the pilot of a model aircraft is required to satisfy himself that he can safely carry out the intended flight, this is defined by Article 138 of the ANO which states that the pilot of a model aircraft must not endanger any person or property.
What does this mean in practical terms? Essentially the position is exactly the same as with 35MHz a few years ago, when you purchase and install a receiver the onus is on you to ensure that it is performing at a level that will not compromise the safety of the flight, essentially choose a receiver with a specification that matches the installation requirements (as an extreme example don’t fit a unit advertised as suitable for park flyers in a 1/3rd scale Extra).
Once you have installed the unit then carry out range checks in line with the (transmitter) manufacturer’s guidance.
Remember, whilst there may be a lack of well defined legal requirements relating to the receiving equipment that we use, the responsibilities that we incur as pilots of model aircraft are very clear, you are legally responsible for the safety of any flight that you undertake.