The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has asked UK pilots to convert their aircraft radios to 8.33 kHz spacing as soon as possible – if they have not already done so.
With over half of UK ground stations now operating with 8.33 kHz receivers, the need for pilots to convert their sets to maintain compatibility is increasing day by day.
Several recent incidents involving non – 8.33 compatible radios have caused concern for air traffic controllers. Pilots have been tuned to incorrect channels and not been able to communicate with ground stations.
En-route controllers meanwhile have also experienced interference from aircraft using the wrong frequencies. Pilots are strongly advised to check appropriate frequencies as part of their pre-flight planning routine.
Ground stations at over 100 popular general aviation aerodromes, including Old Sarum, Oxford and North Weald have now converted to 8.33 kHz.
Others, such as Biggin Hill, Wycombe Airpark and Old Buckenham will be using 8.33 kHz from August. All aerodromes have to convert to 8.33 kHz by the end of 2018.
Although 8.33 kHz spaced radios are compatible with ground stations still operating on 25 kHz spacing, the same is not true in reverse – aircraft with 25 kHz radios cannot communicate with ground stations operating on 8.33 kHz.
Pilots and aircraft owners can claim a grant for 20 per cent of the cost of installing a new 8.33 kHz radio under a funding agreement with the European Union. The CAA said it had so far processed over 5,500 grant applications, paying out over £1.25 million.
The CAA agreed an extension with the EU to extend the funding claim period into 2018. Any new funding applications must be submitted by the end of September 2018. Handheld radios, headphones, charging cables and spare batteries can all be claimed for under the eligibility criteria.
The CAA reiterated that sport and recreational frequencies, including the common gliding channel, ballooning frequency and Safetycom, will also need to convert to 8.33 kHz in early 2019. Users of these frequencies are therefore strongly encouraged to take advantage of the current availability of funding.
A list of UK ground stations now operating on 8.33 kHz is updated monthly in the AIP Supplement.
A significant number of conversions are expected to take place over the final four months of 2018 – pilots are advised to check in advance the status of any aerodromes they plan to visit.
Further details regarding the transition are available on the CAA website here.