Ultra High Frequency (UHF)

Ultra High Frequency (UHF) radio stations are presently used to support Air Traffic Control air-ground voice communications for military aircraft flying OAT (Operational Air Traffic) and for the handling of non-8.33 kHz State aircraft which may operate as GAT/IFR (General Air Traffic/Instrument Flight Rules) in the 8.33 kHz airspace.

Today, these UHF services are made available by civil and military ANSPs (Air Navigation Service Providers). Depending on the State’s local arrangements, military ANSPs normally provide UHF support for OAT whilst civil ANSPs can offer this service for State aircraft operating as either GAT/IFR or OAT.

With the extension of  VHF 8.33 kHz mandatory equipage above FL195, Commission Regulation (EC) No 1265/2007 of 26 October 2007 governs the regulatory provisions for State aircraft. This Regulation foresees that non-8.33 kHz equipped State aircraft that cannot be retrofitted for a justified compelling reason will be accommodated by the ANSPs on UHF (Ultra-High Frequency) or 25 kHz VHF (Very High Frequency) assignments. A similar provision is included in the new implementing rule on air-ground voice channel spacing for the airspace below FL195.

In parallel with a continuous effort to retrofit military aircraft with VHF 8.33 kHz-capable radios, the maintenance of a certain level of UHF ATC communications is a critical element in minimising the impact on State aircraft flying in 8.33 kHz airspace. It will constitute an important facilitator for the upcoming phases of expansion of 8.33 kHz below FL195 and for OATTS (OAT Transit Service) implementation.

The provision of UHF for ATC is still far from being fully harmonized in Europe. In many locations there are constraining factors like:

  • difficult frequency management coordination;
  • limited UHF coverage;
  • absence of commonly agreed operating procedures;
  • lack of recognised standard and technical difficulties (e.g. cross-coupling with VHF channels).

The EUROCONTROL Civil-Military Interface Standing Committee (CMIC) acknowledged that 8.33 kHz expansion entails the need to implement a number of support measures, including UHF provision, while paying due regard to the technical, operational and economic aspects.

Subsequently, the Agency undertook an activity to seek the harmonisation of UHF used for ATC in close cooperation with the NATO Spectrum Management Branch (SMB).


Guidance for the planning, implementation and operational usage of UHF for ATC
(See related links)

EUROCONTROL Guidelines on the use of UHF for ATC

These guidelines have been released after extensive consultation within the Civil-Military CNS Focus Group, 8.33 Programme Steering Group and ATC Procedures Development Sub Group.

The released version of this document is available for download.

EUR Frequency Management Manual: Extract from ICAO EUR-011 Part IV - Frequency Coordination and Registration Procedures

The procedures for the implementers to request UHF frequencies are available in the ICAO Frequency Management Manual

Source: Doc. EUR-011 Part IV - Frequency Co-ordination and Registration Procedures.

ETSI Standard: Ground-based UHF radio transmitters, receivers and transceivers for the UHF aeronautical mobile service

European standard on Ground-based UHF radio transmitters, receivers and transceivers for the UHF aeronautical mobile service developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

This information may be used to support the installation of ground stations.

The users of this guidance material are advised that it neither replaces any local regulations nor the safety assessments that have to be undertaken locally before implementing UHF installations or procedures.