Trip Report, November 24, 2009: Bahamas RCOs

January 12, 2009

frequency map Click image to expand

During our post-AOPA Summit Fly Out to the Bahamas, I took advantage of the opportunity to test navaids and RCO’s in the Bahamas. Our route took us over Bimini, Andros (north end), Nassau/New Providence, the central Exumas, Eleuthera (south end), Cat Island and Long Island. During the week, I made several flights and made attempts to contact Nassau Radio at a variety of altitudes from 1,500 up to 6,000 feet in this area. In addition, I contacted Nassau Flight Service this morning and spoke with Kwane Russell who reviewed each RCO with me to confirm what I had observed. Basically, the only frequency working for Nassau Radio is 128.0 and the antenna is located on the Nassau International Airport tower. There is a second frequency for Nassau radio, 124.2, which is in test mode and that antenna is located at the Marsh Harbour airport on Abaco.

The following is a summary of what I was able to observe.

  • EQUIPMENT:
    • VOR’s were checked with a Garmin 430 and King KX155
    • COMM’s were checked with a Garmin 430 and King KX155
    • NDB’s were checked with a King KR87 ADF
  • BIMINI: Bimini VOR ZBV IS operational on 116.7; 122.1 (guard) IS operational for contacting Miami radio
  • NASSAU: Nassau VOR ZQA IS operational on 112.7; 128.0 IS operational for Nassau Radio; 118.4 IS operational for Miami Radio
  • ELEUTHERA: I COULD NOT receive the Governor’s Harbour NDB on 224; 124.1 IS NOT operational for Nassau Radio off of North Eleuthera. THIS IS AN OLD FREQUENCY THAT IS NO LONGER PUBLISHED. 118.45 IS NOT operational for Nassau Radio off of Governor’s Harbour. THIS IS AN OLD FREQUENCY THAT IS NO LONGER PUBLISHED.
  • EXUMAS: 124.4 IS NOT operational for Nassau Radio off of Exuma International. THIS IS AN OLD FREQUENCY THAT IS NO LONGER PUBLISHED. 118.0 IS operational for the AFIS at Exuma International.
  • SAN SALVADOR: I COULD NOT receive the San Salvador NDB on 281; 124.6 IS NOT operational for Nassau Radio off of San Salvador. THIS IS A CURRENT FREQUENCY THAT IS PUBLISHED. 127.22 IS operational for Miami Center off of San Salvador.
  • LONG ISLAND: Stella Maris NDB IS operational on 526.

Essentially, the Bahamas have eliminated the RCO frequencies that had not been in service for many years (118.45, 124.1, 124.4) and focused on the 128.0 frequency in Nassau and the 124.2 frequency in Marsh Harbour (an area heavily travelled) as well as the AFIS frequency at Exuma International (118.0). The 128.0 frequency can be received throughout the northern Exumas, Eleuthera and north/central Andros if you get up high enough. The AFIS at Exuma International can be reached in the central and south Exuma, Cat Island and Long Island areas at reasonably low altitudes. Although the AFIS is not Nassau Flight Service directly, it is manned by someone who can provide weather and relay flight plan information to/from Nassau Flight Service. Although not having a functioning frequency for Nassau Radio (124.6) at San Salvador is a concern due to its remote geographic location, having the operational Miami Center frequency (127.22) partially offsets that problem although most FSS type requests will probably be rejected. The lack of operational NDB’s is not a major factor as the VOR at Nassau is working and most pilots are using GPS for navigation. Most instrument approaches in the Bahamas are also GPS.

Rick Gardner can be reached by phone: U.S. (786) 206-6147 or Mex. (998) 882-0943 or by visiting his Web site www.caribbeanskytours.com