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CAA’s 8.33 website includes a reminder that static data sources such as charts and aerodrome reference guides may be out of date during the transition.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.”