Pushing the boundaries of weight and cost, Radiant Instruments debuted its AirLite aviation band receiver at Sun ‘n Fun this week. Fitting in the palm of your hand, the AirLite receiver is about the size and weight of the old I-Pad touch devices. Its “switchology” is also similar with a single rosette of buttons, controllable with your thumb.
The versatile radio receiver includes Aircraft frequencies (with standard U.S. 25 KHz spacing), as well as AM and FM bands. A user can program frequencies into the unit and it will even scan an entire band and preset all stations received on that band. To save the weight and cost of a speaker, the radio has an output for earbuds only. Interestingly, Radiant’s principal engineer James Wiebe designed the radio to employ the earbud wires to also act as the antenna. Standard ear buds are included in the price, but users can upgrade to any other brand. The radio is charged through a standard USB-C cable and includes a button lockout switch so that users can select a frequency and then slip the receiver into a shirt pocket without worrying about buttons being pushed to change things.
The controls on the radio are just this side of intuitive, requiring about five minutes of exploration to conquer the learning curve. Once that is accomplished, control of the radio is fast and sure, requiring only one thumb. This unit will be useful for checking ATIS frequencies, monitoring tower and ground, and even acting as an emergency receiver in the air (receiving a crisp and clear signal from ATC and then communicating through transponder settings). When off duty, one can enjoy the AM and FM bands.
Perhaps the most outstanding qualities of the AirLite are the excellent reception, clear sound quality and and its price, $69.95. Units are scheduled to be shipped later this month and are available from Aircraft Spruce.