Communications & Navigation Index

With the development of commercial air services (and radio) in the 1930s came the need for a supporting ground organisation. This need was reinforced by the tragic losses of the first ANA's Avro X Southern Cloud in 1931, Airlines of Australia's Stinson VH-UHH in 1937 and the second ANA's DC3 Kyeema in 1938.

At first marine radio stations were used for communication with aircraft, but soon a dedicated air traffic services organisation was established, one that continues to play a vital role in safe air transport today. A network of radio navigation beacons was also established, the beginning of the Department's involvement in the development and provision of a range of aids to navigation.

A list of Unit and equipment acronyms used on this site



Read about Coastal Radio Stations in the Early Days of Communications With Aircraft

NOTAM 6/1940 giving callsigns for Aeradio Stations

Read about the HF Communication Stations of Sydney
Inside Sydney's Llandilo HF transmitter station

Read about the HF Communication Stations of Melbourne

Photos of HF field strength measuring using a DCA DC-3 - c.1962

The AWA Air Mite lightweight VHF radio - 1948

The Phonetic Alphabet - Old & New

Read about the 'Q' code

Download a Movie Clip: A Position Report, 1950s-style

Photo of the interior of a Douglas DC-4 c.1950 showing the size of aircraft radio equipment

DCA's first computerised message switching system - 1973

Photos of and information about a Linesman at work splicing a cable - 2007

Andrews Spiracone HF antennas at Broken Hill - 2009



Read about Radio Navigation Aids


Navaids and Radar < download the article Navaids and Radar Reach Out from the July 1969 issue of DCA News

Direction Finding (DF)

Aural Radio Range

Information about Australia's first pilot-interpreted radio navaid - the Aural Radio Range

33 Mc 'Lorenz' Radio Range

Homer/Non Directional Beacon (NDB)

Distance Measuring Equipment (DME)

Visual Aural Range (VAR)

Multiple Track Radar Range (MTRR)

  • The story of this revolutionary and pioneering Australian navaid of the 1940s - MTRR

Instrument Landing System (ILS)

VHF Omni-directional Range (VOR)

Microwave Landing System (MLS)



Download a history of airport lighting Lights in the Night

Read a description of the lighting at Forrest in 1928 - Australia's first airway equipped for reguar night flying

Precision Visual Glidepath


Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI)

Photo of a typical Rotating Aerodrome Beacon

Read about the Calvert Cross Bar Approach Lighting System

See a photo of typical approach lighting systems for a precision approach (ILS) runway.



Photos of the experimental Light Weight Air Warning radar at Essendon - 1940s

Photos of the Type 276 experimental Aerodrome Control Radar at Essendon - early 1950s


Navaids and radar < download the article Navaids and Radar Reach Out from the July 1969 issue of DCA News

Photo of the Sydney CSF Route Surveillance Radar - c. early 1960s

Photos of the Melbourne CSF Route Surveillance Radar:

Examine a chart showing the extent of radar coverage - 1967

Early satellite ranging experiments - c.1970

Read a Departmental 'Information Paper' on The Use of Radar in Air Traffic Control - c.1980s

Read an essay on Air Traffic Control surveillance systems, including the difference between Primary and Secondary radar



Early days - Airways Survey in the DC-3 and F.27 era

Modernising - F28 and Optical Tracker

Today - Super King Air and Laser Tracker



The Phonetic Alphabet - Old & New

Australian Company Radio Callsigns

Read about the DCA publication Airway Navigational Facilities - ANFAC

Airport power supplies & downloadable A Brief History of Power Supply Systems for Civil Aviation Facilities in Australia1928-2018

Photo inside the DCA Radio Workshops at Rosehill, NSW - c.1950s

Chart showing the VAR instrument approach procedure for Melbourne/Essendon - 1960

Aktiv-Fischer ST4 Snow Trac used to service remote airways equipment - 1980s

Photo of an Isuzu 500 light truck with portable generating equipment at Essendon Tower - 2007

Download the CAHS Technical Library Catalogue (updated 6/2015 - requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Download a partial catalogue of the CAHS collection of Aeronautical Charts (requires Acrobat reader)


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