ALL operators of radios in aircraft are required to posses a Flight Radio-Telephony Operator’s Licence. The licences are valid for the life of your pilot's licence.
The fundamental purpose of the licence is to ensure that aviation radio transmissions are made only by competent individuals. While the "specialist" language may seem strange at first, it is there to avoid confusion in the air. The course and exam is in two parts: theory and practical.
Radio theory is learned in a series of ground briefs that normally take three hours and is followed by a 30 minute written radio theory exam. We suggest students read the Radio Telephony Operators Handbook (CAP413) before the training as this speeds things up dramatically – download it free from the CAA website. CAA Safety Sense leaflet 22, Radiotelephony is excellent too.
The practical exam is fairly demanding. We prepare students by giving them a briefing and then a series of practical dry runs. For the practical a student sits in the briefing room at Strathaven Airfield with a headset and mock radio system. The controller sits in the office, also wearing a headset connected to the same radio system. This provides a very realistic environment.