Effective January 1st, 2018, the official line is that you need an 8.33 VHF Radio to operate anywhere in Europe. If you’re heading to Europe without one, expect problems.

Until now, it’s really only been a requirement above FL195 – 8.33 has been around at the higher levels since 2007. However, Europe is keen to get everyone on the same page and make sure new frequencies can be used by all aircraft at the lower levels also.

However, not everywhere is actually requiring 8.33 just yet.  Eurocontrol have built a handy tool that shows each the requirements for each airspace sector. Click on the image below to check it out.

Can I get an exemption? If you’re operating a ferry, delivery, or some other flight where you don’t have 8.33, then you should be able to get an exemption to operate without 8.33 – but it will vary state to state. Write to the Ministry of Transport for the particular state.

Eurocontrol have published all the details on this as follows:

Above FL195, in the IFPZ, not equipped aircraft may be exempted from the carriage of the 8.33 kHz radios (refer to the national AIP of the state concerned to see if the flight is eligible) in which case the letter Y shall not be inserted in Item 10a (Equipment), but the letter Z shall be inserted in Item 10a as well as COM/EXM833 in the Item 18 (Other Information) of the filed flight plan.

Below FL195, in the airspace of the EU member states (plus Switzerland and Norway) some airspaces may be exempted from the carriage of the 8.33 kHz radios (refer to the national AIP of the state concerned) in which case the airspace is not inserted in the area where the mandatory carriage check takes place. Such exemption will permit a non-equipped aircraft to fly but only if the flight trajectory remains exclusively in airspaces where 8.33 kHz is not mandatory.

Below FL195, in the airspaces of the EU member states (plus Switzerland and Norway), state aircraft non-UHF and non-833 are exempted. The letters Y and U shall not be inserted in Item 10 (Equipment), but STS/STATE shall be inserted in the Item 18 (Other Information) of the filed flight plan.

In the IFPZ, State aircraft that are not equipped with 8.33 kHz capable radios but are equipped with UHF shall be permitted to fly in 8.33 kHz airspace where UHF coverage is provided or special procedures are implemented (see the national AIP of the State concerned). To indicate such, the letters U and Z shall be inserted in Item 10a (Equipment) and ‘COM/EXM833’ shall be inserted in Item 18 (Other Information) of the filed flight plan.

 

Confused? Here’s a quick crib-sheet of what to do:

When you file a flight plan in Europe, it goes through the automated IFPS system, which is now quite clever at checking for 8.33 kHz radio compliance.

The IFPS system will crosscheck between the concerned airspaces crossed by the flight plan and the radio communication equipment indicated in Item 10: (Equipment) and Item 18 (Other information) provided in the submitted message.

Here’s what will happen, depending on what you put in your flight plan:

  • If Item 10 (Equipment) of the submitted message contains Y, then that flight is considered to be compliant.
  • If Item 10 (Equipment), of the submitted message does not contain Y, but contains Z and U and the exemption indicator COM/EXM833 is present in Item 18 (Other Information), and the flight is a STATE flight, then that flight shall be considered compliant.
  • If Item 10 (Equipment) of the submitted message does not contain Y but contains the exemption indicator COM/EXM833 and the flight is not penetrating the 833_UHF_VHF region and is entirely within the 833_EUR_IFPS, then that flight shall be considered compliant.
  • If Item 10 (Equipment) of the submitted message does not contain Y, neither U and Item 18 (Other Information) contains STS/STATE and the flight is exclusively in the airspace of the EU member states (plus Switzerland and Norway) below FL195 then that flight shall be considered compliant.

In all the other cases, the flight shall be considered not compliant and shall fail automatic processing!