View Full Version : Why link losses are more as the antenna height decreases in ground to air comm

5th Oct 2015, 17:49
Theoretically free space loss is independent of the height of the transmitting and receiving antenna. However when link loss is calculated in ground to air v/UHF communication, the link loss varies with the airborne receiving height of the antenna. With transmitting antenna on ground at constant height, as the receiving antenna height increases, the losses are reduced.

I want to know what is the reason for decrease in losses as the receiving antenna height increases. This phenomena is observed as per various propagation models.

Can one please explain the actual physics behind this ?

7th Oct 2015, 10:32
Multiple path interference?

This would decrease as aircraft height increases thus reducing the likelyhood losses.

7th Oct 2015, 10:59
It all depends on what the loss model takes into account.

The propagation pattern of the ground antenna is usually not omnidirectional. Usually the maximum gain of the antenna is found a couple degrees above the horizon. If the model takes that into account, this would explain the observed behaviour.

Another thing to take into account is that the earth is not flat; at low altitudes you are behind the horizon which results in the signal strength diminishing rather quickly, depending on the radio frequency used.

12th Oct 2015, 13:40
Free space is just that, free space, so there is nothing to affect the signal except attenuation of the air.

With an actual link, the ground has to be taken in to account, for two reasons:

1) The ground produces reflections of the transmitted signal. These reflections reach the receiver at different times to the direct signal and therefore cause phase cancellation which reduces or could completely cancel out the received signal. To avoid this, we have to consider the so called Fresnel clearance, which is an ellipsoid area of space between the aerials, the dimensions of which are related to path length and frequency. If there is an obstacle such as a hill which does not obstruct the line of sight between the aerials, but does infringe the Fresnel zone, then attenuation will occur. Thus, increasing the height of one or both aerials will reduce these losses.

2) The curvature of the earth effectively reduces the overall height of the path, so the longer the link, the higher the aerials need to be. (NB, talking about VHF here, not HF).

For both reasons, the higher above the earth one or both stations are, the less attenuation and interference will be experienced. There is a limit though, because at some point the free path attenuation will be too much, and this will limit the maximum range.

A formulae for working out an appproximate max range for VHF is:

1.25*sq. route (2*(transmitter height+receiver height))

Heights in feet, range in nm.

For a jet at FL350 this gives a practical max range of ~331nm, assuming the transmit/receive mast is 200' agl. - and I find I can often receive London Main Volmet at about 300-325nm out.