8.33 kHz radios and frequency conversions
From 1 January 2019 most UK aeronautical radio ground stations have converted to 8.33kHz voice channel spacing. This means that an 8.33kHz capable radio is required to communicate with all ground stations. Further details have been published in the UK AIP, please refer to the AIP supplement index and other relevant sections.
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: May 2019
As of 1 January 2019 all UK GA facilities had converted to 8.33kHz channel spacing
It is important that all pilots continue to refer to the current AIP supplement before flying. 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 833VCSfirstname.lastname@example.org
Please note that most AIP AD pages have been updated with the last few being changed in AIRAC 09/2019. Charts will be updated as part of the usual update cycle, therefore it is imperative that pilots refer to the latest information available.
All common recreational and offshore channels have converted to 8.33kHz. A limited number of exemptions are listed in UK AIP ENR 1.8.
Safetycom and common sporting assignments
As planned, all sporting assignments (including Safetycom) as outlined in CAP 1606, were converted in January 2019.
The funding scheme, combined with the uptake of conversions on the ground resulted in the UK progressively converting the majority of assignments.
The CAA has also released a number of additional common assignments, as listed in CAP 1606.
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 EU funding scheme closed to new claims on 30 September 2018
In 2016, the CAA’s GA Unit applied for and was granted EU Funding to assist the UK with the adoption of 8.33 kHz radio communications. EU Funding was made available to the CAA through the Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) from the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).
This project successfully delivered the objectives of the Action; it utilized the EU Funding to provide the catalyst to incentivise and encourage people to transition to new radios so that the UK has been able to comply with EU regulation (IR) 1079/2012, moving the GA community over to 8.33 kHz communications.
The EU Funding scheme has been most successful and the CAA was able to rebate over £2.65m to the GA community.
The Eligibility Criteria for applying for rebate, CAP1501, is available here for your reference.
More detail and technical information
- Common sporting and recreational assignments including Safetycom CAP 1606
- Further details have been published in the UK AIP, please refer to the AIP supplement index and other relevant sections
- Further technical details and information for ground stations is available in CAP 1573
- Specific information for offshore service providers is available in CAP 1580
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, all frequency assignments (limited exemptions listed in AIP ENR 1.8) 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 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.
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.
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.
LA3 approved equipment
In certain circumstances the use of a LA3 approved 8.33 kHz radios may be appropriate.
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.
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.
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. Use of non-8.33kHz capable radios are only permitted on exempted frequencies. CAP 1606 and AIP ENR 1.8 refer.
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.