VHF 8.33 kHz (State Aircraft)
History of the Implementing rule
Air-ground communications using VHF 8.33 kHz channel spacing were introduced in European airspace to alleviate VHF congestion. In 1999, some 30 States within the ICAO EUR region enforced mandatory carriage of 8.33 kHz radios above FL 245.
Following this decision, the European Commission (EC) undertook to regulate the implementation of VHF 8.33 kHz in European airspace below FL 245 down to FL 195. Article 5 of the Air Ground Voice Channel Spacing (AGVCS) Implementing Rule (IR) (EC Regulation No 1265/2007) was agreed by the Single Sky Committee (SSC) for State Aircraft and published in the EU’s official journal on 27 October 2007.
A specific provision mandates Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) to handle the remaining non-8.33 kHz equipped State aircraft, within the limits of the ATC system, with either the remaining VHF 25 kHz channels or on UHF.
After completion of the expansion of mandatory 8.33 kHz channel spacing the drafting of another IR, repealing the previous regulation, for implementation below FL 195 was started at EUROCONTROL and was completed in 2010. The formal consultation relating to the draft IR also involved the military authorities and was completed in the second quarter of 2011. The final report was provided to the EC in 2011.
On 14 June 2012 the Single Sky Committee approved the new regulation extending the requirements for air-ground voice channel spacing (8.33 kHz) below FL 195. The final regulation was published in the Official Journal (EU No 1079/2012 or L320/14 of 16 November 2012). Article 9 of this AGVCS II regulation contains arrangements for State aircraft.
These arrangements include regulatory provisions related to State aircraft equipage with VHF 8.33 kHz radios and measures to ensure the accommodation by the ATS providers of non-equipped State aircraft. The regulatory requirements can be summarised as follows:
- Above FL 195, State aircraft are to equip by 31 December 2012 (transport-type) or 31 December 2015 (non-transport-type) where justified by procurement constraints
- Forward Fit all State aircraft entering into service (or upgrades) after 1 January 2014
- Retrofit all State aircraft by 31 December 2018
- Transitional Arrangements are possible on account of technical, budgetary and procurement constraints, with communication to the Commission by 30 June 2018 and equipage by 31 December 2020 at the latest
- Exempted: All State aircraft no longer in service by 31 December 2025
- ATS providers are to accommodate non-equipped State aircraft on UHF or VHF 25 kHz, provided safety is ensured. Publication in AIPs of the applicable procedures is also required.
The latest State aircraft equipage plans received at EUROCONTROL show that only 74.86% of transport-type State aircraft, 63.79% of combat aircraft and 64.41% of light aircraft will be equipped by 31 December 2014.
How we help
We at EUROCONTROL continue to produce guidance to support military authorities and to facilitate the implementation of the AGVCS provisions in the upcoming AGVCS II Regulation supporting the Network Manager Radio Frequency Function (RFF).
Information on the summary of the workshop relating to the implementation of Regulation (EU) No 1079/2012 on Voice Channel Spacing (VCS) held on 27 January 2015 at EUROCONTROL at the request of the EC:
- Currently the implementation of the VCS Regulation seems under control, with good progress on ground implementation by the ANSPs, State aircraft equipage by the military community and civil aircraft equipage by commercial airlines. General aviation stakeholders, including recreational aviation users, still however have concerns about the cost burden and are looking for ways to ease that burden, in particular through possible incentives;
- However, in the longer term, and looking at the end dates of the mandate (2018), there are worries that major issues, i.e. delays, will occur in 2018 if the progress on implementation is not monitored and managed properly;
- Improved awareness raising, coordinated monitoring and steering of the implementation, including the handling and coordination of exemptions (for civil and State aircraft) should be considered by the Commission and possibly allocated to the Network Manager RFF function. Handling exemptions should ideally also be coordinated.