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Radio communications service and Aeronautical radio stations

Radio Communication Service (RCS)

A Radio Communication service is according to Article 1.19 of the International Telecommunication Union´s (ITU)RR, defined as “a service involving the transmission, emission and/or reception of radio waves for specific telecommunication purposes”.

Aeronautical Radio Stations

An Aeronautical Radio Station is a Radio Communication Service having primary responsibility for handling communications pertaining to the operation and control of aircraft in a given area.

Aeronautical radio stations provide analogue voice and data link communications with aircraft operating in the Very High Frequency (VHF) Aeronautical Mobile (R) Service allocation 117.975 MHz to 137.000 MHz, using Double Sideband (DSB), Amplitude modulated (AM), full carrier, with 8.33Khz channel spacing.

Aeronautical Radio Station equipment may comprise fixed, stationary, vehicle, portable and hand held equipment consisting of transmitters, receivers and transceivers and are subject to Air Navigation Order 2016 (ANO) Article 205 Approval, the Wireless Telegraphy (WT) Act and the Radio Equipment Regulations 2017.

Operators of Aeronautical Radio Stations are also subject to the requirements of the ANO 2016 Article 205 in relation to the competence to operate. Aeronautical Radio Stations associated with Air Traffic Services (Air Traffic Control and Flight Information Services) are also subject to the requirements for Air Navigation Service Providers. For further information refer to the Certification and Designation web page.


Types of Aeronautical radio stations

1. Air Ground Communication Services (AGCS):

AGCS is an Aeronautical Radio Station usually provided at small aerodromes that do not have a sufficient volume or type of traffic that would require them to provide an Air Traffic Service.

AGCS operators provide traffic and weather information to pilots operating on and in the vicinity of the aerodrome. Such traffic information is based primarily on reports made by other pilots. Information provided by an AGCS radio station operator may be used to assist a pilot in making a decision; however, the safe conduct of the flight remains the pilot's responsibility.

CAP452 Aeronautical Radio Station Operator's Guide Chapter 4 describes the AGCS.

2. Offshore Communication Service (OCS):

OCS is an Aeronautical Radio Station which provides a communication service located on offshore fixed and mobile installations. I.e. Offshore fixed and mobile platforms, Emergency Rescue and Recovery Vessels, Supply and Support vessels.

OCS involves the transmission of messages to helicopters operating in the vicinity of offshore oil rigs, platforms and vessels through the use of aeronautical radio stations.

OCS also includes Offshore Non-Directional Radio Beacons (NDBs) located on these installations.

CAP452 Aeronautical Radio Station Operator's Guide Chapter 5 describes the OCS.

3. Operational Control (OPC):

OPC is an Aeronautical Radio Station which provides a communication service which is intended to be used for the exercise of authority over the initiation, continuation, diversion or termination of a flight in the interests of safety of the aircraft and the regularity and efficiency of the flight. Such communications are usually required for the exchange of messages between aircraft and aircraft operating agencies.

These are typically established by airlines operating scheduled and charter flights for passenger and cargo transportation, airport and aerodrome operators, airport ground handling agencies, flight training organisations and organisations and individuals who either operate their own aircraft or provide maintenance facilities.

An aeronautical radio station which is licensed and established for company operational control communications (OPC) may be used only for communication with company aircraft or aircraft for which the company is the operating agency.

CAP452 Aeronautical Radio Station Operator's Guide Chapter 7 describes the OPC.

The category of OPC also includes all areas of Recreational Aviation described below

3.1 Recreational Aviation

Recreational Aviation comprises associations, clubs, societies and individuals operating gliders, hang gliders, para gliders, paramotors, microlights, parachutes, balloons, gyroplanes and simple single engine aeroplanes (SSEA).

Aeronautical radio stations, comprising fixed, mobile, portable and hand-held radio equipment, are typically established and operated by these clubs, societies and individuals to provide radio communications with aircraft for the exchange of messages related to the particular recreational aviation activity.

4. Fire Vehicle 121.6 MHz

Aeronautical radio stations, comprising mobile and portable radio equipment, are typically established and operated by an aerodrome fire service providing direct radio communications with aircraft on the ground for use during a declared emergency.

The requirements for the provision of radio equipment operating on 121.6 MHz at both EASA and National Aerodromes are contained in CAP 168 Licensing of Aerodromes Chapter 8 Rescue and Fire Fighting Service (RFFS), paragraph 23 Communications and Alerting Systems.

The frequency assignment 121.6 MHz is assigned on a non-protected basis and is shared between users so as to provide an efficient use of the aeronautical radio spectrum.

5. Data Link

Aeronautical Radio Stations for data link communications are generally established and operated as a network of stations providing a variety of data link services to aircraft over a wide geographical area. In the UK networks are operated by either ARINC Incorporated or SITA.

Data link frequency assignments are granted in accordance with an ICAO plan and are not shared with any other aeronautical radio stations providing analogue voice communications.

More information can be found in CAP 670 ATS Safety Requirements Part C, Section 1, COM 04 ATC Datalinks.


Ground Station - Designated Operational Coverage (DOC)

All ATS and Air Ground Communication Service providers are advised that the DOC promulgated in the UK Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP) Section 2.18 should not be any greater in vertical or lateral limits than that stated on the OFCOM Wireless Telegraphy Act (WTA) Licence and Article 205 Air Navigation Order approval issued by the CAA ATM Regional Offices, and should correlate with the operating requirement of the unit.

Where the licensed or approved range is not currently sufficient to meet operational requirements, ANSPs should apply to OFCOM and notify their relevant ATM Regional Office; in the case of Air Navigation Service Providers, following the Change Notification Procedure.


Requirements for operators of Aeronautical radio stations

Operator Requirements

Certificates of Competence are required to be held by operators providing the following services:

AGCS - Radio Operators Certificate of Competence (ROCC).

OCS - Offshore Radio Operators Certificate of Competence (Offshore ROCC).

(An Offshore ROCC is required to be held by Helideck Landing Officers (HLO), Helideck assistants, crews of Emergency Response and Rescue Vessels (ERRV) and persons on other support or supply vessels who are required to operate VHF aeronautical radio equipment in UK Internal Waters, UK Territorial Waters or within the limits of the UK Continental Shelf).

Information for parachutists - Parachute Radio Operators Certificate of Competence (PARA)

Pre-flight ATC departure clearances - Clearance Delivery Officer Radio Operators Certificate of Competence (CDO).

With the exception of providing Information for parachutists a Radio Operator's Certificate of Competence issued by the UK CAA is not required in order to use an aeronautical radio station when providing an OPC communications service; however Article 205 of the ANO is still relevant and places requirements upon operators to be competent. In addition some Recreation Aviation Organisations require members to meet their own competence requirements and reference should be made to the relevant organisation.

More information about recreational aviation can be found on the websites of the representative organisations listed below:

It should also be noted that it is the responsibility of all WT Licence holders to ensure that operators of Aeronautical Radio Stations are competent, in the case of ROCC holders this should be indicated by the WT Licence holder signing the reverse of the certificate. Refer to CAP452 Aeronautical Radio Station Operator's Guide

Further information can be obtained at the following link: Radio-Operators Certificate of Competence, Advice to Applicants


Frequency assignments


The CAA Surveillance and Spectrum Management are responsible for the management of the aeronautical radio spectrum in the UK and provide appropriate frequency assignments for the operation of aeronautical radio stations as part of the application process for ANO Approvals and WT Act licences.

Whilst some frequencies are 'pre-assigned' and available for use by aeronautical radio stations for specific purposes, most are subject to International co-ordination according to the process defined by the ICAO Frequency Management Group (FMG) and adopted for use within Europe, which may result in a delay of several weeks before a WT Act Licence and ANO Approval can be issued.

Aircraft Operators

Reports of radio interference have been attributed to aircraft station transmissions outside the Designated Operational Coverage (DOC) of the aeronautical radio station with whom they are in contact. Radio operator's and WT Act Licensees should endeavour to reduce the potential for co-channel interference from aircraft station transmissions outside the DOC by ensuring that the aircraft operators, airlines and pilots have access to, or are made aware of, information on frequency assignments and their DOCs for the aeronautical radio stations under their control and by refraining from calling aircraft stations where they are known to be outside the DOC unless an emergency situation exists.

Recreational aviation aeronautical radio stations

The following Channel Identifications for recreational aviation aeronautical radio stations have been 'pre-assigned' on a non-protected basis and are shared between users. The aeronautical radio station radio operators, WT Act Licensees and aircraft stations flight crew are responsible for ensuring that they use correct radiotelephony procedures and discipline so that these assignments are shared in a reasonable manner between all users.

8.33 kHz Channel Primary Use Secondary Use Notes
118.680 Hang Glider Para Glider

-Shared Channel
-Mobile within UK FIR


(Secondary CGFF)


-Site specific for busy airfields
-Refer to BGA Guidance

122.480 Ballooning   -Mobile within UK FIR
122.955 Depcom   -Refer to UK AIP GEN 3.4
129.830 Microlight   -Site specific for busy airfields


  - Mobile within UK FIR

(Ground Retrieval)

DZ - Aircraft Hang Glider

-Shared Channel
-Refer to BGA Guidance
-Refer to BPA Guidance

129.980 Gliding (CGFF)  

-Site specific for busy airfields
-Refer to BGA Guidance





-Mobile within UK FIR
-Refer to BGA Guidance





-Mobile within UK FIR
-Refer to BGA Guidance



(Cloud Flying)


-Mobile within UK FIR
-Refer to BGA Guidance

129.890 Gliding (Competition) Gliding (Coaching)

-Shared channel
-Mobile within UK FIR
-Refer to BGA Guidance

130.405 Gliding (Competition) Gliding (Coaching)

-Shared Channel
-Mobile within UK FIR Refer to BGA Guidance




Mobile within UK FIR
Refer to BPA Guidance

135.480 Safetycom  

Refer to UK AIP GEN 3.4, CAP

413 or AIC Yellow 099/2018New Link

BGA Guidance - Managing Flying Risk Version 10
BPA Guidance - CAA Parachutists Aeronautical Radio Station Operators Guide
IFSA - Inflight Situational Awareness
CGFF - Common Gliding Field Frequency


Equipment technical and legal requirements

1. International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Standards and Recommended practices (SARPS)

Aeronautical Radio Stations and Offshore Non-Directional beacons (NDBs) are required to comply with the relevant parts of the following ICAO SARPS:

ICAO Annex 10 Aeronautical Telecommunications Volume I - Radio Navigational Aids.

ICAO Annex 10 Aeronautical Telecommunications Volume II - Communications procedures including those with PANS status.

ICAO Annex 10 Aeronautical Telecommunications Volume III - Communications Systems Part 1 - Digital Data Communications Systems; Part II - Voice Communications Systems.

ICAO Annex 10 Aeronautical Telecommunications Volume V - Aeronautical Radio Frequency Spectrum Utilisation.

Where the UK has filed differences to the SARPs, these will be published in supplements to the Annexes and in the UK AIP.

2. Directive 2014/53/EU Of The European Parliament and Of The Council.

Aeronautical ground radio equipment falls within the scope of the Directive 2014/53/EU.

The Radio Equipment Regulations 2017 transposes DIRECTIVE 2014/53/EU (The Radio Equipment Directive (RED)) in to UK legislation.

The Radio Equipment Regulations 2017 came into force on the 26th December 2017 and applies to all radio equipment placed on the market after this date

When purchasing and installing new radio equipment intended operators must ensure that the equipment bears a 'CE' mark and must be in possession of a declaration of conformity drawn up by the manufacture.

The declaration of conformity may take the form of a full declaration in accordance with Schedule 6 of the Radio Equipment Regulation or a simple declaration as allowed by Schedule 7

3. Legacy Equipment

Equipment that has been placed on the market prior to the commencement of the Radio Equipment Regulation 2017 must be in conformance with Directive 2014/EU or previous directive 1999/5/EC of the European Parliament and the Council.

The above regulation and directives apply to products which are intended to be placed or put into service on the European Union (EU) market for the first time and includes new as well as used or second-hand products imported from countries outside the EU and placed on the market for the first time.

However, it is recognised that some second-hand radio equipment will previously have been placed into service in the EU at some point in time. This includes radio equipment that is no longer manufactured or ceased manufacture at the time when the R&TTE Directive 1999/5/EC came into force.

4. Maintenance

All RCS equipment should be maintained in accordance with the manufacture's requirements. Equipment used in the provision of AGCS and Fire Vehicle (121.6 MHz) are required to meet the maintenance requirements described in CAP 670 ATS Safety Requirements in Part C, Section 1, COM 02 VHF Aeronautical Radio Stations.

Engineering requirements for Datalinks are described in CAP 670 ATS Safety Requirements in Part C, Section 1, COM 04 ATC Datalinks.


Licensing and approvals

WTA Licensing and ANO Approvals

WTA licences are issued by Ofcom and the establishment of new Aeronautical Radio Stations or changes to Aeronautical Radio Stations are notified to the CAA by Ofcom after they receive the relevant application form OfW586a available from the Ofcom web site.


Further information

Type of Aeronautical Radio Station SES Regulation applies? WT Licence/Frequency assignment and ANO 205 approval required? ROCC Required
ATC/FIS Yes Refer to certification and designation web pages
ATC/FIS Special Events except certified providers No Yes. Apply to Ofcom No
AGCS including AGCS Special Events No Yes. Apply to Ofcom

Yes (ROCC)

Form SRG 1413

OCS No Yes. Apply to Ofcom

Yes (Offshore ROCC)

Form SRG 1413

OPC and Recreational Aviation except Parachuting No Yes. Apply to Ofcom No
Information for parachutists No Yes. Apply to Ofcom


Form SRG 1413

Pre-flight ATC departure clearances No Yes. Apply to Ofcom


Form SRG 1413

Fire Service Communication with aircraft on the ground No Yes. Apply to Ofcom No
Offshore NDB No Yes. Apply to Ofcom NA

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