The use of the Aeronautical radio spectrum in the main frequency bands is divided into two main functions –
ground-air communications and radio navigation. The CAA (acting as agent to the Office of Communications) issues
licences to cover these uses of radio.
Article 139 (2) of the Air Navigation Order (2016) exempts
balloon/glider pilots operating on the nominated balloon/glider frequencies and persons being trained as flight crew in
UK registered aircraft. However, balloon/glider pilots must contact air traffic control if they wish to enter
controlled airspace for which they must hold the Flight Radiotelephony Operators Licence (FRTOL).
These licences are issued to cover the installation and use of a radio installation which provides ground to air
communication. Note - all aeronautical ground station installations must have been assessed as fit for purpose under
the Air Navigation Order by the CAA’s Air Traffic Standards Division (ATSD) before a radio licence can be issued.
Licences normally cover a single site and the licence fee is charged by the number of frequencies allocated to each
There are several categories of Aeronautical Ground Station (AGS) Radio Licence to cover the main types of ground to
air service. These are as follows:
Common air to ground frequencies which have been assigned to general aviation operations and sporting use such as the common glider frequency
Aeronautical fire station assignments on the frequency 121.600 MHz.
A two way communication between an aircraft and a ground station in which the ground operator may only pass advisory information regarding the situation local to the aerodrome.
A two way communication between an aircraft and a ground station, in which the ground operator may only pass advisory information regarding the airborne situation local to the aerodrome but can pass instructions to aircraft on the ground at the aerodrome.
A two way communication between an aircraft and a ground station, in which the ground operator provides control instructions to the aircraft within a defined geographical region or sector.
a two way communication between an aircraft and a ground station, in which the ground operator controls the aircraft in the vicinity of an aerodrome traffic zone when the aircraft is not flying by visual reference to the aerodrome.
A broadcast transmission from a ground station to one or more aircraft in which information relating to the aerodrome from which the transmission is being made is conveyed. Within the UK this service is regarded as an air traffic control service and may only be provided by an aerodrome which also provides a tower and/or an approach service.
Either a two way communication between an aircraft and a ground station, in which the ground operator provides either control to or information for an aircraft on the ground. This category includes Ground movement Control (GMC) & Fire. Or: An automated broadcast service passing aerodrome information from a ground station to an aircraft on the ground at that aerodrome. This category covers departure ATIS (DATIS).
A two way communication between an aircraft and a ground station, in which the ground operator may only pass advisory information as requested by the pilot. This information may include situation awareness and weather information.
two way communication between an aircraft and a ground station, in which the ground operator using both vertical and horizontal information about the position of an aircraft will talk the aircraft down along the glide slope.
A broadcast transmission from a ground station to one or more aircraft in which meteorological information relating to a number of aerodromes as defined in the UK AIP. Within the UK this service is regarded as an air traffic control service.
A two way communication between an aircraft and a ground station, in which the ground operator controls the aircraft in the vicinity of an aerodrome traffic zone when the aircraft is flying with visual reference to the aerodrome.
Operational Control (OPC) - A two way communication between an aircraft and a ground station for the purposes stated in ICAO Annex 6, Parts 1 & 3, chapter 1 which is reproduced below:-
"Operational Control. The exercise of authority over the initiation, continuation, diversion or termination of a flight in the interest of safety of the aircraft and the regularity and efficiency of the flight."
Currently OPC services are either provided by voice communications or a slow speed data communications known as ACARS.
AGS Operations Control licences can only be issued to radio stations set up to communicate with company aircraft, or aircraft for which the licensee is the operating agency.
Offshore platforms operating in UK territorial waters that are assigned a Traffic Frequency (A/G) and/or a Logistics Frequency (OPC), or, a single frequency to be used for both traffic and logistic services. The licence also covers mobile platforms where the Radio Frequency allocation is carried out using an area system based on block on sub blocks. Details of this are published in the UK AIP (CAP 32)
Aeronautical ground stations where an HF assignment is required.
Ground radio equipment designed for 25 kHz channel spacing must be able to operate on any channel between 118.000
MHz and 136.975 MHz in 25 kHz steps. Equipment designed for 8.33 kHz channel spacing must be able to operate on any
channel between 118.000 MHz and 136.475 in 8.33 kHz steps.
Equipment and systems intended for analogue voice and ACARS data link communications must comply with the Minimum
Performance Specification in the Appendix of CAP 670 COM 02 as a precursor to ANO Article 104 Approval.
Frequencies can only be licensed for use within the United Kingdom Flight Information Region.
Aeronautical radio messages must be limited to those concerning flight safety or flight regularity. Public
correspondence and messages relating to air carrier/company business communications and passenger service/convenience
are not permitted. More details can be found in CAP 452 ‘Aeronautical Radio Station Operators
You will normally be asked to propose a callsign which you wish to use to identify your station. Callsigns must not
include words which could cause confusion with other services, e.g. radio, control, ground etc. The most commonly used
format is the company or organisation name followed by either a place name or a word like operations.
Operators of aeronautical ground aircraft radio stations should exercise strict radio discipline and base station
radio procedures as outlined in the CAA publication CAP 413 'Radio Telephony Procedure'.
This licence covers the installation and use of aeronautical navigation aids.
The licence fee is charged by the number of frequencies used by each individual navigation aid at a declared location.
The main types of navigation aid covered by the licence are as follows:
A licence is available to cover Aeronautical Primary radar and Secondary Surveillance Radar (SSR). SSR is an ICAO standard system employing secondary radar principles used either by itself or co-located and synchronized with primary radar. All SSR installations have a frequency for ground-air interrogation and a frequency for the air-ground reply.
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