• 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.

  • 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.

    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.

    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.

    The GA Unit, along with associations and key stakeholders, has identified a small number of common frequencies that may qualify for a limited duration exemption from the 8.33kHz implementation. The CAA submitted an exemption request to the European Commission in December 2016 that identifies these exemptions. The European Commission is entitled to review this request and can refuse exemptions on the basis of significant 'network impact'. Exemption cannot therefore be confirmed until the review has been concluded.

    The CAA will confirm these exemptions when they have been reviewed, it is anticipated that these exemptions will not be significant and that they will be of a limited duration. Any exemptions granted will not delay the change in UK legislation. In line with existing advice, users are encouraged to upgrade early and to take full advantage of the funding scheme.

    The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) awarded €4.3 million of EU funding for the CAA to use to assist the transition of aircraft to use 8.33 kHz voice communications. The funding will be distributed to aircraft owners or pilots to contribute toward the cost of new radio equipment.

    The first call period for claims closed on 31 March 2017. Over 2,000 applications were received and all claims to that date will now be formally assessed.

    The second call period is now open and will run to 30 September 2017.

    The same eligibility criteria apply. Claims must be supported by receipts to show that payment for equipment has been made, and again, no pre-purchase funding claims are permitted.

    For more information on funding see our 8.33 kHz funding application page.

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    • Further detail for aircraft owners is contained in CAA Information Notice IN-2013/018.
    • Further technical details and information for ground stations is available in CAP 1573.
    • Specific information for offshore service providers is available in CAP 1580.

    Any ground stations requiring further assistance or advice, particularly if they have any safety concerns are encouraged to contact the 8.33 VCS National Coordinator by email: 833VCS-radios@caa.co.uk.

    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, 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/.

    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.

     

     

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