The use of the Aeronautical radio spectrum in the main frequency bands is divided into two main functions – ground-air communications and radio navigation. The CAA (acting as agent to the Office of Communications) issues licences to cover these uses of radio.
Aircraft radio licences
An Aircraft Radio Licence is available in three forms:
- The first is an "air station" licence which covers the aircraft for all aeronautical radio equipment it carries. The licence fee is linked to the take off weight of the aircraft.
- Short term Aircraft licences are also available to cover temporary use of aircraft radio equipment for delivery of aircraft etc. The fee will vary depending on the take off weight of the aircraft and the length of time the aircraft will be in use.
- Finally the "transportable licence" covers the use of one hand held portable VHF radio for use on multiple aircraft and has a flat fee.
Owners of aircraft radio equipment must ensure:
- The radio equipment should be approved by the Civil Aviation Authority or EASA;
- The radio installation is approved by the Civil Aviation Authority Approved Maintenance Organisation;
- The installation and use of the radio equipment is covered by a Wireless Telegraphy Act Radio Licence issued by the CAA on behalf of the Office of Communications;
- The user of the equipment holds a Flight Radiotelephony Operators Licence issued by the Civil Aviation Authority.
Article 139 (2) of the Air Navigation Order (2016) exempts balloon/glider pilots operating on the nominated balloon/glider frequencies and persons being trained as flight crew in UK registered aircraft. However, balloon/glider pilots must contact air traffic control if they wish to enter controlled airspace for which they must hold the Flight Radiotelephony Operators Licence (FRTOL).