• To overcome aviation radio frequency congestion across Europe, more channels are needed. By moving to 8.33 kHz channel spacing, three times the number of channels can be created within the VHF band.

    Change in the law

    On 1 January 2018 the law changes and all aircraft operating in airspace that requires the carriage of a radio must have 8.33 kHz-compatible equipment fitted and operational. After this date all 25kHz radios can no longer be used, unless specifically exempted for a particular channel such as the emergency frequency 121.5MHz. This means that all General Aviation (GA) aircraft must comply with this change to UK law to maintain safe communications with ground stations.

    The UK leaving the EU will not affect the implementation of this new legislation.

    Plan early

    Manufacturers, suppliers, maintenance organisations and licensed engineers may struggle to cope if there is a rush to buy and fit radios in late 2017. Consequently, the CAA is encouraging GA aircraft owners to purchase 8.33kHz radios early as we anticipate demand will be high as the deadline approaches.

    Work being done by the GA Unit

    The GA Unit, along with associations and key stakeholders, has identified a small number of common frequencies that may qualify for a temporary exemption from the 8.33 kHz implementation. We have submitted a proposal to EuroControl and we should hear the outcome in early 2017. If we are successful it will help reduce the equipage burden for a minority of users. Any exemptions granted will be for a short period of time and will not delay the change in UK legislation.

    Formal engagement has started with radio manufacturers, suppliers, maintenance organisations and licensed engineers to allow them to highlight any concerns that the 8.33 kHz implementation might have. Our main focus is to understand the capacity of industry to support the GA Community from now until 31 December 2017.

    Upgrading to 8.33 kHz-compatible equipment and installation options

    There are a number of options for purchasing and installing equipment in time for the 8.33 kHz changeover deadline, including a number of ways the installation design approval can be simplified. The Implementing Rule (IR) 1079/2012 says that radio equipment put into service after November 2013 should be 8.33 kHz voice communications system (VCS) capable and manufacturers must ensure radios placed on the market from this date meet this requirement.

    Dual radios and existing 25 kHz systems

    Aircraft will need to be equipped with the number of 8.33 kHz capable radios required by operational rules. So if where the carriage of two radios is required, both radios must be 8.33kHz VCS capable.

    Non-commercial operations fall under Part NCO which does not include a requirement for aircraft to carry dual radios. But owners are advised to check the relevant regulation to their own operations in order to establish what is required.

    Existing 25kHz radios can be left installed provided that they are only used for exempted frequencies, such as the emergency frequency.

    Equipment Approval

    Technical Standards Order (TSO)/European TSO (ETSO)

    Following an agreement between EASA and the FAA, each organisation now mutually recognises TSO/ETSO approvals for certain aircraft products, which includes VHF radio communications equipment. In Europe there is no longer a requirement for a manufacturer to separately approve a piece of equipment that holds a TSO; the equipment can be installed and used as if it has the corresponding EASA approval. Further details on the scheme are at EASA website.

    The CAA holds a list of common equipment on its website and the EASA and FAA lists can also be accessed online.

    LA3 Approved Equipment

    In certain circumstances the use of a LA3 approved 8.33 kHz radios may be appropriate. Generally, LA3 approved equipment can be utilised where an 8.33 kHz-capable radio is not mandatory, for example outside of all controlled airspace after 31 December 2017.

    Pilot owners should obtain confirmation from the manufacturer that their radio meets the conditions of the Approval. Once confirmed, the pilot may then use the Equipment Approval LA301075 as the reference when applying to the CAA for their Aircraft Radio Licence, which is required by the Wireless and Telegraphy Act. We are aware of the following 8.33 kHz handheld radios that meet the changeover requirement:

    • ICOM IC-A6E
    • ICOM IC-A24E
    • Yaesu FTA-550
    • Yaesu FTA-750

    There may be other models that meet the requirement, although these are the ones currently identified to the CAA.

    Installation and Design Certification

    Certification specification for standard changes and standard repairs (CS-STAN) is a new EASA specification that enables owners of non-complex aircraft to benefit from a quicker approval process for the installation of certified avionics that includes VHF radios. CS-SC001a ‘Installation of VHF voice communication equipment’ enables, under certain conditions, the replacement of a radio through this route that can be used:

    • To exchange radio equipment on VFR/IFR aircraft.
    • For initial-installation of radio equipment for VFR aircraft only.

    CS-SC001a does not include antennas. More detail is available from EASA.

    Broadly, CS-STAN approvals are applicable to aircraft operating under VFR that meet the following conditions:

    • Certified EASA aircraft below 5700kg.
    • Certified EASA helicopters below 3175kg.
    • Motor sailplanes, sailplanes and lighter than air types.

    Additionally EASA aircraft can achieve a minor change approval to enable the replacement of a VHF radio. Minor changes can be approved by EASA and a radio manufacturer will often seek approval for a modification through EASA. The approval can then be re-distributed by the manufacturer to enable the minor modification approval to be used by another individual. As the approval is aircraft specific, avionics manufacturers may hold minor modification libraries for distribution to aircraft owners, licensed engineers and maintenance organisations.

    Your aircraft maintenance organisation should be contacted for further guidance about installation and design certification.

    8.33 kHz funding eligibility criteria

    Details of hardware that can be claimed and the criteria that must be met are defined within this document: 8.33 kHz funding eligibility criteria.

    Please read the eligibility criteria to determine whether you are able to claim.

    All claims will be submitted using an online form that will be published on this website in early 2017. This will be the only way to claim.

    GA Unit secured EU funding

    The CAA has secured €4.3 million of funding from the European Union’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) to encourage the early transition of the UK GA fleet to 8.33 kHz-capable equipment. The contract with the EU has now been signed and the funding secured. Tony Rapson, Head of the GA Unit said: “We are delighted our application for radio funding was successful.”

    The funding will be distributed by way of reimbursal to aircraft owners or pilots to contribute toward the cost of new radio equipment. We are now working closely with the GA associations and key stakeholders to agree on how to distribute the funds to aircraft owners fairly and simply.

    Technical detail

    More detail is contained in CAA Information Notice IN–2013/018.

    Act Fast

    We are expecting a surge in demand for 8.33 kHz radios and aircraft owners must plan early to ensure that they can source, buy and install compatible equipment before 1 January 2018.

    Updates

    We will announce news and regular updates on the 8.33 kHz implementation project for GA on this webpage.

    To keep up to date with developments you can sign up for alerts through our Skywise system. This offers targeted alerts on news and information from the organisation directly through an app, email or website. For more information on Skywise, to download the app or sign up for alerts via email go to http://skywise.caa.co.uk/.

    ECfunding