Live ATC on your BlackBerry

bb-8320thumbnail-liveatcI have a confession to make — I love to listen to Air Traffic Control (ATC), even if I’m not in the cockpit. Sometimes driving to work, I will visualize/audibilize communications to ATC as if I were in the air. (It’s also a big hit with my 3 year old). Enough of my personal issues — with the release of BlackBerry OS 4.3/4.5 and higher, it is now possible to listen to live ATC on your BlackBerry as long as you have some type of data service/coverage (EDGE/WiFi/3G, Even GPRS/1XRTT will work).

I have a BlackBerry Bold 9700 running BlackBerry OS v5.0 with T-Mobile so my instructions will be specific for T-Mobile users, however, I’m sure it will work with other carriers and newer BlackBerry OS releases as well, however, the procedure might need to be tweaked slightly. Let me know if you find something that differs on your model.

LiveATC.net has now added mobile support for some browsers. For details check here. You can use this as an alternative to creating several standalone bookmarks as outline below.

  1. Check out available airport feeds over at LiveATC.net and make note of the feeds’ airport identifier (example: KOJC. Sometimes an airport has multiple feeds, ie: KBOS_TWR)
  2. Open the BlackBerry Browser Application on your phone
  3. Open the Bookmarks Window and Select Add Bookmark
  4. Use this firewall formatted URL of the feed: http://d.liveatc.net/<airport-identifier> (example: http://d.liveatc.net/kojc)
    (BlackBerry Storm: Use http://d.liveatc.net/<airport-identifier>.m3u — Thanks Maria!)
  5. Give your bookmark a name. Something like KOJC Live ATC Stream
  6. (T-Mobile Specific for BB OS 4.5) You need to specify the ‘t-zones‘ or ‘Hotspot Browser‘ in the bookmark configuration. In BB OS5.0 on T-Mobile, you no longer need to specify the t-zones browser. I’ve tested with both the Internet Browser and the Web2Go browser and both work fine.
  7. Browse to the bookmark and when prompted, select Open, and after some buffering, you’ll begin hearing the audio from the feed.

You can duplicate this procedure and create several ATC bookmarks in a sub-folder on your BlackBerry to have them pre-programmed and ready to go.

I have noticed that when you open your bookmark the Media Player will “buffer” for about 2 minutes. I found an overview of why this is happening here. Basically since LiveATC uses so little bandwidth, it takes almost 2 minutes before it fills to the buffer. Hopefully they work around this when they release their official BlackBerry application which is in the works.

Let me know how this works for you! I welcome your comments/suggestions/questions below.

Note: I’m not affiliated in anyway with LiveATC.net other then donating my own hardware/bandwidth/time for an airport feed; however, if you enjoy LiveATC.net, I encurrage you to leave a donation (the link is right on the front page). The guys that maintain the site do so as a hobby; however, it does cost real money to host/maintain the site.

Updated 05-31-2009: Added minor tweak for BlackBerry Storm based on user feedback.
Updated 06-18-2010: Added information for “Buffering Delay” and my current hardware information.

Author: Michael Whaley

I am a Private, Instrument Rated, pilot living in the Kansas City Metro area with my family and Siberian Husky. I work as a Network Engineer supporting data and voice infrastructure components here in Kansas City. In my spare time I fly.

11 thoughts on “Live ATC on your BlackBerry”

  1. Sadly, this won’t work on my Storm. Don’t know why.

    However, this formula for step 4 works on my storm:
    http://d.liveatc.net/airport-identifier.m3u

    So http://d.liveatc.net/kphx.m3u will tune you into PHX on a Storm.

    Thanks so much for this great tip.

    I also like listening to ATC chatter. In the old days, United used to let passengers listen in on a flight’s communication with ATC at all phases of flight on Channel 9 of the sound system. I wasn’t a pilot back then, but really enjoyed it. We used to get hot, free meals, too. Those were the days.

  2. Ive been trying to get this to work on my Blackberry 8330.. cant get it for some reason. It plays for 27 seconds, and then dies everytime.

    I fly out of OJC so im trying to use the same stream too.. hopefully i can get this figured out

    *****

    Josh emailed back later and said a battery pull took care of this issue.

  3. I’m on AT&T using a Blackberry Bold and I can’t get it to work using either link.

  4. I’m glad I found this article. Also… just sent an email to liveatc.net and got a quick response from them… They are currently in development of a blackberry app similar to the iPhone app they have right now. He did not give me a time frame though so keep your eyes open.

  5. Anyone heard anything about a blackberry app? I’m using a Tour 9630 and can’t get KRDU tower or approach to play through my browser.

  6. I no longer have a BlackBerry, however, I’m guessing using the browser workaround should work ok. Let me know if it works.

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