8.33kHz funding moves to second round

The UK CAA has announced that it has received over 2000 applications for EU funds towards the costs of re-equipping with 8.33kHz aircraft communications radios. By 1 January 2018 all aircraft operating in airspace that requires the carriage of a communications radio must have 8.33kHz-compatible equipment fitted and operational. The UK CAA say that after this date 25kHz radios can no longer be used, unless specifically exempted for a particular channel such as the emergency frequency 121.5MHz.

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The Innovation and Networks Executive Agency (INEA) awarded €4.3 million of EU funding to the UK CAA to assist in the costs of buying and installing 8.33kHz aircraft communications radios. Under the rules established by the UK CAA to distribute these funds (payable for 20% of the costs incurred by an aircraft owner), claims for reimbursement have to be received in a number of ‘call periods’. When each call period closes, the claims received are assessed and if sufficient funds remain, a new ‘call period’ is opened.

Sources within the CAC have told FTN that the approximately 2000 applications for reimbursement received during the first call period, which ended on 31st March, are estimated to have left a considerable amount of the EU funding still unclaimed. Hence a second ‘call period’ has been opened, which will remain open until 30th September 2017.

Research by FTN has revealed that, as expected, there is a very high demand for 8.33kHz radios suitable for fitting to GA aircraft, with manufacturers such as TRIG and ICOM quoting delivery lead times running up to two months. However, this research has also revealed that possibly the greatest demand is for handheld 8.33kHz radios rather than those for installation. The UK CAA allows handheld radios to be used to meet the ‘8.33’ requirements within UK airspace (other than in Class A, B and C airspace) for all operations other than Commercial Air Transport (CAT). There is a suspicion amongst industry observers that some pilots and operators plan to carry a hand-held radio in the aircraft to meet the letter of the 8.33kHz requirement, but are likely to continue using the 25kHz radios actually fitted to the aircraft.

The CAA requirements and guidance in relation to funding for 8.33 radios can be found in the CAA publication CAP1501.

Author: Adrian Mahovics

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