Smaller channel spacing for VHF radio equipment in the future

Published 29.10.2014

The channel spacing for radio equipment used in aviation will narrow to one-third as of 2018. The purpose of the revision is to divide overloaded frequencies more efficiently, e.g. for the needs of communication between aircraft and air traffic control. The change requires that equipment are gradually renewed all over in Europe.

As of the beginning of 2018, VHF radio equipment used in aviation will begin to use a smaller 8,33 kHz channel spacing (channel width) in addition to the previous 25 kHz channel spacing in order to improve frequency resources for aviation. The current VHF radio equipment used in aviation are planned to use 25 kHz channel spacing. The transition period reserved for the equipment renewal will last until the end of 2017. According to the European Commission Regulation (EU) No 1079/2012, radio equipment intended to function in the VHF frequency band (30–300 MHz) must have the 8,33 kHz channel spacing capability by 31 December 2017.

In terms of equipment trade, the smaller channel spacing means that all the radio equipment that are placed on the market and brought into use after 17 November 2013 must have the capability for both channel spacings.

Meanwhile, users of radio equipment must take into consideration that FICORA grants licences for such equipment that have the 8,33 kHz channel spacing capability. However, it must also be possible to tune the equipment so that they function on the frequencies of 25 kHz channel spacing. Licences can also be granted for such equipment that do not have the 8,33 kHz channel spacing capability if the use of the equipment has begun before 17 November 2013. In these cases, the licence expires on 31 December 2017.

Radio with the 8,33 kHz channel spacing capability must be installed in aircraft for which the Finnish Transport Safety Agency (Trafi) has granted a certificate of airworthiness or a pilot's licence for the first time after 17 November 2013.

However, the change in the channel spacing does not concern e.g. the distress frequency (121,500 MHz), the search and rescue frequency (123,100 MHz), or other such frequencies whose usage rights require that the use of 25 kHz channel spacing continues due to separately imposed exceptions.

Commission Regulation (EU) No 1079/2012.

More information on radio equipment used in aviation is available on FICORA's website

Further information:

Mikko Saari, Radio Network Specialist, tel. +358 295 390 460
Petteri Jokela, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 390 472

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Key words: Radio , Spectrum , News

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