The Yaesu FTA-550L is one of the best aviation handheld radios on the market, striking just the right balance between features and price.
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The Yaesu FTA-550L has a battery life of 12-14 hours, which is the same as the more expensive FTA-750L, but not quite as good as a couple of the Icom models, including the IC-A14 (18 hours), and IC-A16 (17 hours).
The battery-saver mode is something that you will definitely want to use, which can also be set to wake up at user-selected intervals to maximize battery life – a feature that is unique to Yaesu transceivers.
GPS, Navigation & Weather
As is typical with handheld radios, the FTA-550L does not come with GPS. If you would like this feature, then check out the FTA-750L and Icom IC-A25N.
It does, however, come with VOR navigation and ILS navigation (localizer), which makes it one of the very few radios that come with both.
Furthermore, the FTA-550L also includes a Course Deviation Indicator (CDI) that is based on the received signal. This is another feature that isn’t commonly found in many models, especially at this price.
With its Automatic Active Weather Channel Locator, the FTA-550L can automatically scan and receive all the active NOAA weather stations in your area too.
Channels & Ease of Use
You are able to program up to 200 memory channels, which is standard for most radios on the market. The channel recall feature is a nice touch, though, and will definitely come in handy. You are able to access frequently used channels very quickly either through an operating frequency display, an alpha-numeric channel name display, or a channel number assignment.
The device is also easy to use thanks to its intuitive design, making it easy to navigate through all the features. Setting everything up for the first time is also a breeze thanks to the included Programming software. The same applies if you want to reprogram anything too.
Dot Matrix Display
With its generously sized 1.7″ x 1.7″ dot matrix display that features a full backlight and dimmer, everything is easy to read in the cockpit at a glance, even in low-light conditions.
One of the best things about buying a Yaesu aviation radio over other brands is that accessories are always included.
In the case of the FTA-550L, an alkaline battery case, cigarette lighter adapter, headset adapter cable, belt clip, and AC wall charger are included in the box, so you don’t have to spend more money to purchase these items separately.
If you’ve been through a few radios in the past, you know that nothing can be more frustrating than the audio being hard to hear. When this happens, It’s easy to completely ditch the radio, even if it does everything else right.
Thankfully, the FTA-550L uses an 800 mW audio amplifier, making it louder than almost any other handheld transceiver.
There are several good reasons why the Yaesu FTA-550L is one of the most popular transceivers on the market. While compared to the more expensive FTA-750L it’s lacking GPS, if you can forego this feature it comes highly recommended by practically all pilots.
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