No general exemption from 8.33 warns CAA

There is no general exemption from the requirement to carry and operate an 8.33kHz radio from 1 January 2018, insists the CAA, despite misleading headlines appearing elsewhere.

Bob Liddiard of the CAA’s General Aviation Unit said, “To clarify the situation with the requirement for pilots to transition to 8.33kHz radios by the end of the year, there are two separate exemptions being offered by the CAA in 2018:

“1. Certain frequencies, primarily those used by pilots of gliders, hot air balloons and microlights, can continue being used on 25kHz radios during 2018.

“2. Where a ground station has not transitioned to 8.33kHz capability, pilots will still be able to communicate with that ground station on a 25kHz radio in 2018. However, where a ground station has transitioned to 8.33kHz, pilots must use an 8.33kHz radio to communicate.”

The Safetycom frequency of 135.475MHz, for use at aerodromes and airstrips in the UK where no specific VHF frequency is notified, is also an exemption.

The CAA’s 8.33 website includes a reminder that static data sources such as charts and aerodrome reference guides may be out of date during the transition. Radio presets and equipment databases will need to be kept up to date.

Ground units changing over
In a separate communication, FLYER has learned that the CAA’s Spectrum Engineering Specialist has surveyed approximately 70 small-medium ground units that are mostly A/G or FIS services, and found that 10% have converted (to 8.33) already, 48% are equipped, and 34% intend to equip, probably before their licence comes up for renewal. It’s expected that ground stations will change over at licence renewal because an 8.33 licence is one-third the cost of a 25kHz licence.

“There is no compulsion to convert to 8.33kHz at radio licence renewal date,” said Jay Mottershead, Radio Licensing Lead at the CAA.  “It makes sense to do so financially and that would be our recommendation but there is no obligation. Some licencees will renew early on in the year but may not be ready to convert until toward the end of 2018. This is in line with our expectations and predictions for safety exemptions.”

CAA 8.33 website


  1. It would be helpful to know which ground stations plan to change to 8.33 kHz, when and what their new 8.33 frequency will be. Are any planning to change from 1 Jan 2018?

  2. No compulsion for ground stations to change but at one third the cost, one hell of an incentive. Here’s a thought. Make ALL licence renewals one third the cost (not just 8.33) and then the airfields can retain the frequencies that we all know and love and new stations get the new frequencies as and when required………………….or is that too simple??

  3. its not “one third of the cost” its that you don’t have to pay triple the price! well actually way more than triple the price over 10 years the price for the same local airfield frequency in the UK will have gone from £150 to £9900. Thanks OFCOM!!
    it all started with ” applying administered incentive pricing to the aeronautical and maritime sectors” an OFCOM 2008 “consultation” that I and some others objected to, and again for the next “consultation” in 2009 on basically the same thing- “competitive pricing” for a monopoly safety device. This is also of course why the UK is so keen on 8.33khz frequencies being mandatory, so OFCOM can make more money on more frequencies.
    Their 2012 proposal had the price go up from £150 in 2012 to £350 in 2013 then £550 then £650 by 2014.
    but then the fees shown on the current CAA website show OFCOM are now charging £600 for an 8.33khz licence and £1900 for a 25khz licence but then for new renewals its £3300 for an 8.33khz licence and a whopping £9900 for a 25khz frequency.
    Unbelieveable! surely this is massive abuse of their monopoly.
    Im sure the result will be that those that really need a discrete freq will change to 8.33khz as soon as they have to renew, for the massive saving, but many other places will just use safetycom or the microlight freq instead. This will of course mean that many less frequencies will be required! Now why couldn’t they have just done that in the first place and be like they are in France with the 123.5 club freq used by many airfields. Or like the few Unicom frequencies used in the US.

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