ACARS are messages transmitted via VHF from aircraft to ground stations, and back again. These messages contain many kinds of communication, from automated computer system and system monitoring parameters, to ATC clearances.

The following episode explains the different types of messages, and shows some of the content received at my location in Canada. However ACARS is used worldwide, wherever there are suitable VHF ground stations. Since VHF airband transmissions travel hundreds of miles, there is a good chance you’ll be able to receive them.

In the video, I also look at 3 software options for receiving ACARS transmissions when using a Software Defined Radio (SDR) or scanner.

ACARS data is also transmitted via HF and Satellite as well. Receiving it on these bands will be covered in later episodes of the Monitoring Aviation Communications series.

Hardware Links

I used the RTL-SDR v3 and NooElec SMArt SDRs during the making of this video. The links here will take you to my pages on these specific units, along with purchase links.