Radio Requirements

1.1 3rd January 2018

This document aims to inform readers about the relevant requirements. If used correctly, radio can be an effective tool in support of situational awareness. Radio can provide access to airspace that may otherwise be prohibited.


  1. Wireless Telegraphy Act
  2. What Ofcom and the CAA do
  3. Aircraft and Ground Stations Radio Licences
  4. Airborne VHF Radio Equipment Approval
  5. Ground VHF Radio Equipment Approval
  6. Flight Telephony Operator without a Licence
  7. Radiotelephony Call-signs and Communication Procedures
  8. 5 VHF Emergency Frequency

1. Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006

Under the Wireless Telegraphy (WT) Act 2006 it is an offence to install or use radio transmission equipment without a licence.

The Office of Communications (Ofcom) is responsible for managing that part of the radio spectrum used for civil purposes in the UK as set out in the Communications Act 2003

All radio transmitting equipment fitted or carried in a glider, or used on the ground to transmit messages to equipment fitted to or carried in a glider, is required to be issued with a WT Act radio licence.

Ofcom is responsible for issuing all radio licences for Aircraft and Ground Stations. The CAA assigns and coordinates frequencies for ground stations and work closely with Ofcom.

2. What Ofcom and the CAA do


The Ofcom role in aeronautical licensing is to administer and issue licences. They also collect licence fees, issue fee notices and send out reminders if payment date is missed. They will also contact licensees if there are any future policy decisions that affect them.

Online licensing applications:

Telephone: 020 7981 3131 / 0300 123 1000


Address: Ofcom, Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 9HA


The CAA assign and coordinate frequencies. The CAA assess stations are fit for purpose under the ANO procedures and approve equipment.


3. Aircraft and Ground Station Radio Licences

An Aircraft fixed radio licence authorises the use of Aeronautical VHF hand portable radio equipment operating in the frequency band 118 to 137 MHz on the specified aircraft as a back-up to the fixed radio without the need for a separate Aircraft transportable licence. An Aeronautical Ground Station licence is required for any radio equipment used on the ground. A handheld or portable radio used on the ground to communicate with equipment in a glider, even when it has been issued with an aircraft transportable licence for when the radio is carried in a glider, is required to be issued with an Aeronautical (Ground) Station Licence.

To apply for an aircraft or portable licence, you should contact Ofcom, who issue licences to cover aircraft, ground-air communications and radio navigation aids and radar. It is not necessary to licence the GPS equipment used in gliders for navigation or as an aid to collision avoidance.

4. Airborne VHF Radio Equipment Approval

The CAA website contains detailed information about aircraft equipment approvals.  The database of aircraft equipment approved under the British Civil Airworthiness Requirements (BCARs) can be searched directly from the same page.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) website contains details of JTSO (Joint Technical Standard Order) Authorisations issued by the Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) prior to the 28th September 2003, which have been transferred to EASA, and ETSO (European Technical Standard Order) Authorisations issued since 28th September 2003 by EASA, both of which include aircraft equipment which may not be included in the BCARs Aircraft Equipment Approvals database.

The CAA Directorate of Airspace Policy, Radio Licensing Section staff will check whether the radio equipment declared on application forms for an aircraft (WT Act) radio licence is approved.

5. Ground VHF Radio Equipment Approval

The radio equipment used in Aeronautical Ground Radio Stations is required to comply with the Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive (R&TTED) 1999/5/EC from the 20th October 2005.

The CAA, Air Traffic Services Standards Department, CNS/ATM Standards Section,  Communications Systems Specialists will check whether the radio equipment declared on application forms for an aeronautical (ground) station (WT Act) radio licence is acceptable

6. Flight Telephony Operator without a Licence

The ANO notes how a person may act as a flight radiotelephony operator within the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man without being the holder of an appropriate licence granted or rendered valid under this Order, if the following conditions apply;

(a) the pilot of a glider on a private flight and does not communicate by radiotelephony with any air traffic control unit, flight information unit or air/ground communications service unit; or

(b) being trained in an aircraft registered in the United Kingdom to perform duties as a member of the flight crew of an aircraft and is authorised to operate the radiotelephony station by the holder of the licence granted for that station.

Note:   An ‘appropriate licence’ in this context means a Flight Radiotelephony Operator’s Licence which may be issued as a stand-alone licence, or in conjunction with a flight crew licence.

7. Radiotelephony Call-signs and Communication Procedures

The ICAO Annex 10 and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) Radio Regulations form the basis for the regulation and usage of radiotelephony call-signs.

Aeronautical Ground Stations are only permitted to use the call-sign specified on the Article 205 Approval for the radio equipment.

The guidance in CAP 413 Radiotelephony Manual should also be followed whenever practicable as it provides a compendium of clear, concise, standardised phraseology, and associated guidance, for radiotelephony communication in United Kingdom airspace.

The CAA has assigned 8.33 kHz channels exclusively for the purpose of communications between gliders and stations that are used principally to communicate with gliders within the UK. These channels are assigned on a shared basis and are not guaranteed any protection against mutual interference.  A summary is given below:

118.685, 129.905, 129.890, 129.980, 130.105, 130.130, 130.405, 130.535 kHz

The use of these assigned channels is determined by the BGA in agreement with the CAA. Note: the aeronautical ground station operator does not require a Radio Station Operator’s Certificate of Competence, unless an Air Ground Communication Service or other Air Traffic Service is being provided.

8. VHF Emergency Frequency

In an emergency, a glider pilot may use the VHF Emergency Service frequency of 121.500 MHz in accordance with the United Kingdom Radiotelephony Manual (CAP 413) Chapter 8 Emergency Phraseology without having to hold Flight Radiotelephony Operators Licence.