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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:

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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.



ATC Profiles 6: Southampton Airport





Frequencies                             (MHz)                                       Hours of Operation


Southampton Approach                122.730                                     As directed by ATC

Solent Radar                              120.225                                     Variable

Southampton Tower                    118.205                                     Variable    



Southampton Information         130.880


Southampton Fire                     121.600 (non-ATC)                      Fire vehicles attending aircraft on the ground.


Navaids                                    ILS/DME Cat I Runway 20/SAM DME/VOR

                                110.750/NDB /NDB (Locator) EAS

                                391.500kHz/RNAV Runway 02


Holds                                       Southampton NDB(L) EAS

                                                Southampton VOR SAM





Runways                                  02 1723m x 37m

                                20 1723m x 37m


Notes (A-Z)


Cat II/III Operations

Southampton Airport is not equipped for CAT II/III operations. However, Low Visibility Procedures (LVPs) are used to protect Cat 1 operations. LVPs will commence when Runway Visual Range/Met visibility falls to 1000m or less.



Unless flying a circling approach procedure, circuits shall normally be flown during daylight hours by propeller-driven aircraft and helicopters at 1000ft ALT and by turbojet aircraft at 1500 ft ALT. All circuits flown at night shall be flown at 1500ft ALT.


Frequency Monitoring Code (FMC)

Pilots operating in the vicinity of – but intending to remain outside of – Southampton CTR/Solent CTA (and maintaining a listening watch only on Solent Radar frequency 120.225MHz) are encouraged to select SSR code 7011.

Selection of 7011 does not imply the receipt of an ATC service. Aircraft displaying the code are not expected to contact ATC under normal circumstances. Pilots remain responsible for their own navigation, separation and terrain clearance. They are expected to remain clear of the Southampton CTR/Solent CTA, at all times.


Helicopter Operations

All helicopters must land and take-off on the runway.


Runway Usage

No intersection departures are permitted, full-length backtrack required on Runway 02 and Runway 20.



The use of the aerodrome by training flights is subject to approval from Airside Operations. Training flights by helicopters may be permitted.


Visual Reference Points (VRP)

Defined VRPs for Southampton are:


Beaulieu Disused Aerodrome

Bishops Waltham

Bullington Cross

Butser Hill Mast



M27 Junction 2 (Ower)

Needles Lighthouse

New Alresford


Spinnaker Tower

St Catherine’s Point

West Meon Cross Roads



Note: VFR traffic requesting transit of the Southampton CTR routeing west-east or east-west can expect clearance subject to traffic as follows:


West Route: Bishops Waltham VRP -VOR SAM -Romsey VRP;

East Route: Romsey VRP -VOR SAM -Bishops Waltham VRP.

Transit will be subject to ATC clearance.



A Soft Ground Arrestor Bed is provided to stop aircraft in the event of an overrun on Runway 20. The bed, which is 73m, is disposed symmetrically about the extended runway centre-line and is twice the runway width. The bed starts 19.5m beyond the end of the paved surface.


Terrain-induced turbulence is possible on approach to Runway 02, within 2nm from touchdown, particularly when strong easterly winds occur.


Any aircraft, which has been given an approval to enter or leave the Control Zone when en route to, or departing from, any unlicensed aerodrome or landing site within the Zone, is to maintain a continuous listening watch on the appropriate ATC radio frequency. A change to Safetycom or other air/ground frequency is only permitted when specific approval has been given by ATC.


This article was featured in the October 2018 issue of Radio User

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