8.33 kHz: the magic number as of 1 January 2018

9 May 2016

As of 1 January 2018 aircraft may not be able to operate in any EU Member States’ controlled airspace unless their aircraft radio communication equipment has the 8.33 kHz channel spacing capability, as per the European Commission’s Implementation Regulation (EU) No 1079/2012 laying down requirements for Voice Channels Spacing (VCS) for the single European sky.

EUROCONTROL has been tasked to take an active role in the implementation of the VCS regulation requirements at European level. With only 2 years ahead left for complete deployment, the Agency, in collaboration with the State’s appointed 8.33 National Coordinators, is working hard to monitor and steer the deployment.

We’re busy supporting the EU Member States to ensure a harmonized deployment of 8.33 VCS based communications below FL 195, as well as building awareness among all airspace users regarding the requirements derived from the VCS regulation, delivering recent briefings to the IAOPA Regional Meeting (15-16 April) as well to the Aero Conference in Friedrichshafen (20-23 April) to target pilots, aircraft owners and industry representatives.

In our capacity as the Network Manager, EUROCONTROL also provides a central coordination and information function to all stakeholders, elaborating concrete Network Impact Assessments for the analysis of eventual exemptions, and providing flight planning support to all Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) non-equipped flights.

Extending 833 kHz down to ground level is important as Europe has a known shortage of voice communication frequencies, and the situation is expected to worsen in the coming years. The consequences should this shortage not be addressed are significant: there will be more air traffic delays; it will be harder to implement safety improvements, and we will lose flexibility in introducing operational enhancements. This will constrain European economic development; extending the use of 8.33 kHz VCS below FL 195 is essential to meet Europe’s aeronautical mobile communication frequency needs in the medium to long term.

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