Summer Getaways and 8.33kHz Concerns
David Smith evaluates 8.33kHz channel-spacing problems, assesses rules for drone flying and reviews ATC's busiest day so far
David Smith evaluates 8.33kHz channel-spacing problems, assesses rules for drone flying and reviews ATC's busiest day so far. He also outlines ATC operations at Southampton Airport, in his ongoing series.
The CAA has now asked UK pilots to convert their aircraft radios to 8.33kHz channel spacing as soon as possible if they have not already done so.
With over half of UK ground stations now operating 8.33kHz-capable receivers, the need for pilots to convert their sets to maintain compatibility is increasing day by day.
Several recent incidents involving radios not compatible with the new 8.33kHz channel-spacing technology have caused concern for controllers. Pilots have been tuned to incorrect channels and have thus not been able to communicate with ground stations.
Meanwhile, some en route controllers have also experienced interference from aircraft using the wrong frequencies. Therefore, all pilots have been strongly advised to check appropriate frequencies as part of their pre-flight planning routine.
Ground stations at over 100 popular general aviation aerodromes, including Old Sarum, Oxford and North Weald have now converted to 8.33kHz. Others, such as Biggin Hill, Wycombe Airpark and Old Buckenham will be using 8.33kHz from August. All aerodromes have to convert to 8.33kHz by the end of 2018.
Although 8.33kHz-spaced radios are compatible with ground stations still operating on 25kHz spacing, the same is not true in reverse: Aircraft with 25kHz radios cannot communicate with ground stations operating on 8.33kHz.
Pilots and aircraft owners can claim a grant for 20% of the cost of installing a new 8.33kHz radio, under a funding agreement with the EU. The CAA said it had so far processed over 5,500 grant applications, paying out over £1.25 million. Any new funding applications must be submitted by the end of September 2018. Handheld radios, headphones, charging cables and spare batteries can all be claimed for under the eligibility criteria for the grant.
The CAA reiterated that sport and recreational frequencies, including the common gliding channel, ballooning frequency and Safetycom, will also need to convert to 8.33kHz in early 2019. Users of these frequencies are therefore strongly encouraged to take advantage of the current availability of EU funding.
Drone Rules Change
With drone usage continuing to rise steadily, the UK Government has enacted legislation to help achieve safer flying across the country. The new laws, which will restrict drones from flying above 400f (or within one kilometre of airport boundaries) came into effect on July 30th.
These changes have been met with approval by UK citizens: New research published by the CAA found that 77% of respondents felt that more drone regulation was needed. This was even echoed by the drone community themselves, with 75% in agreement.
At the same time, 93% of the public and 96% of drone users are calling it 'vital' that drone operators adhere to the rules and guidelines of the CAA's Dronecode. This document is available at this URL:
There was good news for those keen to see the safer use of drones, with the study showing that the drone community's awareness of the CAA's Dronecode has jumped from just over half (54% in 2016) to nearly three-quarters (71% in 2018).
Further to the recent legislative changes, the Government has also confirmed that there will be more to come: Operators of drones weighing 250g or more will be required to register with the CAA and drone pilots will have to take an online safety test.
These requirements will be enforced from November 30th, 2019.
The busiest day of Summer
NATS expected to handle almost 9,000 flights on July 27th as hundreds of thousands flew out on their summer holidays. The surge in flights was supported by those from Heathrow to business and tourist hubs Dublin, New York, and Frankfurt, which take the three top spots for the busiest routes.
The projected top seven routes on summer’s busiest day were Heathrow to Dublin, Heathrow to New York, Heathrow to Frankfurt, Gatwick to Barcelona, Gatwick to Malaga, Gatwick to Majorca, and Gatwick to Faro.
This month’s ATC profile focuses on the up-to-date communications situation at Southampton Airport.
My picture of the month is of a Bristol Supersonic Research Aircraft, now on display at the RAF Museum Cosford.
This article was featured in the October 2018 issue of Radio User