• 8.33 kHz radios and frequency conversions

    From 1 January 2018 if you need to communicate on an 8.33 kHz channel you will need to use an 8.33 kHz capable radio. To find out if a ground station has changed to an 8.33 kHz channel please refer to the AIP supplement index. This is updated monthly.

    More VHF channels are needed to increase aviation radio capacity. This will be achieved by moving to 8.33 kHz channels which will create significantly greater availability for the future across Europe.

  • Update: October 2018 

    The majority of UK GA facilities have already converted this year, with the remainder converting through the last 3 months of the year.  There are a significant number of conversions planned for October, November and December.  It is important that all pilots continue to refer to the current AIP supplement before flying.  Over the summer around 80 frequency assignments were converted, including Biggin Hill, Henstridge, Lydd, Wycombe and Andrewsfield.  The CAA continues to ensure the current AIP supplement (currently 050/2018) reflects all changes.  The content of the AIP is agreed and cleared with facilities.  If pilots have any questions or issues with the contents of the supplement they are encouraged to report them directly to the CAA on the content contact given in the supplement, or through 833VCS-radios@caa.co.uk.

    Safetycom and common sporting assignments

    The CAA intends to pursue conversion of common sporting assignments (including Safetycom) as outlined in CAP 1606, released in December 2017. 

    The funding scheme, combined with the uptake of conversions on the ground has resulted in the UK progressively converting the majority of assignments.  

    The significant majority of UK ground stations are now 8.33, including many LARS and listening squawk services.  Where possible the CAA wishes to avoid the operation of a 'mixed' environment, which could lead to potential safety issues being generated.  In addition, the CAA has also entered discussions with a number of sporting associations who would like to realise the benefits of 8.33 kHz voice channel spacing through the use of additional assignments, a benefit that can only be realised through the conversion of existing assignments.  The CAA has also reviewed current equipage numbers across the UK GA fleet in assessing this decision.  It is therefore the intention to convert all assignments, as listed in CAP 1606 from the 3 January 2018.

    To keep up to date with developments you can sign up for alerts through our Skywise system, which offers targeted alerts on news and information from across the CAA. You can access this system through a free 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/

    EU funding rebate scheme

    The co-financed funding scheme is now closed to applications.  Information on the scheme and eligibility criteria is available here: 8.33 kHz funding

  • More detail and technical information

    • Common sporting and recreational assignments including Safetycom CAP 1606
    • Further details for aircraft owners is contained in CAA Information Notice IN-2013/01
    • Further technical details and information for ground stations is available in CAP 1573
    • Specific information for offshore service providers is available in CAP 1580

  • Most ground services have already converted to an 8.33 kHz assignment, with the remainder expected to convert before the end of 2018.  From 3 January 2019, all ground services must use an 8.33 kHz assignment, unless they are specifically exempted.

    It is illegal to communicate on an 8.33 kHz assignment if you are not using an 8.33 kHz capable radio.

    From the 3 January 2019, the majority of frequency assignments in the UK will be operating on 8.33 kHz voice channel spacing. This includes assignments such as Safetycom and common sporting assignments.

    All aircraft must be equipped to meet the legal operational requirements of the flight they are performing, this includes a suitable radio equipment.

    25 kHz frequencies end with: 00, 25, 50 or 75.

    An 8.33 kHz channel will have a 6 digit channel ending: 05, 10, 15, 30, 35, 40, 55, 60, 65, 80, 85 or 90.

    If an aircraft radio can tune to 8.33 kHz channels then it is suitable. Radios are backwards compatible so an upgraded radio can communicate on both 8.33 kHz channels and 25 kHz frequencies.  Ground station requirements are contained within CAP 670 COM02.8.

    Throughout 2018 ground services will be converting to 8.33 kHz. The conversion date will be decided by each individual ground station. Frequency conversions will be contained within an AIP supplement for the duration of 2018.  Pilots should ensure they are familiar with the latest content of the AIP, including supplementary information each time they fly. 

    Data in the AIP supplement titled 'Transition of frequency assignments to 8.33kHz voice channel spacing' will be updated on a monthly basis in line with the AIS publishing schedule. The supplement can be directly accessed through the NATS AIS website: AIP supplement index 

    Once any ground station or service on your planned flight converts to an 8.33 kHz channel, you must only communicate using an 8.33 kHz capable radio.

    Note that we can also provide the data in spreadsheet format. Please contact us to request a copy.

    Any questions should be directed to the CAA: 833VCS-radios@caa.co.uk

    IR 1079/2012 states that from 1 January 2019, all ground services will be operating on 8.33 kHz channels.

    Ground services across the UK will be converting to 8.33 kHz channel spacing at different dates throughout 2018, mostly driven by their annual licence renewal date.

    If a ground service is still using a 25 kHz frequency then you can still communicate with it using a 25 kHz radio.  Once a ground service has converted, aircraft must utilize an 8.33 kHz capable radio to communicate with it.

    In practice, you can only continue to fly with just a 25 kHz radio if throughout your entire flight you only need to communicate on 25 kHz frequencies.  Note, you must check regularly to confirm that your ground services have not converted.  The CAA expects that most ground stations will have converted well before the end of 2018.

    After 1 January 2019, use of a 25 kHz radio will very restricted, principally to only the emergency frequency of 121.5 MHz.

    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. 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.

    Backwards compatibility

    Users are reminded that new 8.33 compatible radios will retain the capability to communicate with existing 25 kHz ground stations before conversion takes place.

    Dual radios and existing 25kHz systems

    Aircraft will need to be equipped with the number of 8.33 kHz capable radios required by operational rules. So 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.

    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, 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. The CAA has issued an approval for handheld devices that meet certain stipulations.

    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 specified requirements:

    • ICOM IC-A6E
    • ICOM IC-A24E
    • Yaesu FTA-550
    • Yaesu FTA-750
    • Yaesu FTA-450

    This is not an exhaustive list: there may be other models that meet the requirement. Above are those currently identified to the CAA by manufacturers.

    EASA aircraft

    Minor change: 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 change approval to be used by another individual. As the approval would be aircraft type specific, avionics manufacturers may hold minor change libraries for distribution to aircraft owners, licensed engineers and maintenance organisations.

    CS-STAN: Certification specification for standard changes and standard repairs (CS-STAN) is a new EASAspecification 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.

    Non-EASA/CAA-regulated aircraft

    Minor modification: Non-EASA aircraft can receive an equivalent to the above EASA Minor Change through a CAA minor modification approval.

    CS-STAN equivalent: CAA has provided a process to enable use of CS-STAN on non-EASA/CAA-regulated aircraft through publication CAP1419.

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

    Pilots are advised to consider safety implications and ensure they are appropriately equipped for each flight. If a radio is unable to display or tune to any required assignment it should not be used to try and communicate with that ground service. 

    Existing radio equipage rules remain the same, circumstances and airspace that do not mandate the carriage of a radio will continue.  However, to ensure situational awareness, equipage of a radio is highly recommended.

    Pilots have been advised that it is best to be equipped before ground stations convert in 2018.