back to article Ofcom sets out airport fees

Airports are going to have to pay more more for their radio frequencies, with some rates jumping by almost 10 times as the cost of a safe landing goes up. The increase in the cost of frequencies was proposed a year ago, and has now been finalised in a proposal that removes the regional differences in price – which were …


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  1. Refugee from Windows


    Crumbs, going to 8.33MHz channels from 25MHz, surely some mistake, maybe by a factor of 1000 perhaps?

    £20k for something you can't allocate (ie sell) to someone else by international agreement. Yes, looks like a nice case of filling the purse.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    "The UK is committed to moving to 8.33MHz-wide channels, as opposed to the 25MHz channels currently in use."

    That's clever, seeing as the air frequencies are 118-136MHz - ie the whole band is only 18MHz wide.

    Perhaps you are referring to KHz channel spacing??

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Units → #

      .....or even kHz channel spacing?

  3. Archerpilot

    OFCOM on its own

    Actually the CAA are amongst those opposing this proposal. They already have very effective methods for allocating frequencies and minimising interference in co-operation with similar authorities in the rest of Europe.

    OFCOM messed up by forgetting that these frequencies can't be reallocated as they are reserved under international treaty, the current situation represents their stubborn refusal to back down and lose face.

  4. Frederic Bloggs
    Thumb Down

    Err... Biiill!

    Slip of the pen, we know you meant Khz really. However, for some years now (probably more than 10 IIRC) the CAA have been assigning 12.5Khz channels - which seems to have slipped under your radar.

    I'm a bit curious about all of this, I know that all sorts of people have been pushing 8.33Khz for a few years now "because there were too many users needing space", which was the original driver for 12.5khz channels. If this is true, how is OfCom(ic)'s price mechanism going to help us here?

    It is certainly true that there are still many GA aircraft out there with 25Khz radios and there have been the odd sticky moment with those 25Khz radios unintentionally causing problems near stations using the "odd" half channel. Even though these "odd" half channels are chosen to minimise issues of this kind (bearing in mind that VHF LoS @ 4000' is quite a long way). As a result the number of available channels is many fewer that one might have at first thought.

    Lord knows how they are going to slot in 8.33Khz channels. I suspect diminishing returns here.How on earth they intend to weave 8.33Khz radios into the existing mix of legacy kit, and how may real extra channels they get as a result should be interesting. Especially as this is all DSB AM.

    Anyway, bearing in mind (as I suspect OfComic isn't) the LoS issues for aircraft, and a long standing dearth of *safe* free channels as a result, it seems to me the that is really is a money making (and/or power grab from the CAA) scheme by OfComic. I suspect the CAA are not happy (even if they think they will get a rake off - as they issue the licenses).

    1. SImon Hobson Silver badge

      @ Frederic Bloggs

      >> Lord knows how they are going to slot in 8.33Khz channels.

      They already do it. At the moment it's only in the upper airspace where 8.33k radios are mandatory, at lower levels 25k kit is still legal. By careful management, and I believe in a few cases frequency changes, they can stick three 8.33k channels where there was once a 25k channel - the trick is not trying to mix them at close frequencies.

      I guess in time they'll increase the amount of airspace where 8.33k kit is mandatory, but for now, a lot of owners are happy not to be paying out large amounts of cash for replacement radios. Note that when an aircraft is updated with the latest mandatory bit of kit, the CAA charge a fee for approving the mod - and it might not be the small fee for a minor mod in many cases.

      Over time quite a lot of kit will get replaced anyway, but "over time" can be decades in the budget end of general aviation !

  5. Anonymous Coward


    "The only concession Ofcom has made to the smaller aerodromes is a discounted fee for those wishing to communicate less than 10 miles with aircraft lower then 3,000 feet"

    This needs looking into somewhat - but by me rather than you. Since I fly I'd like to know how they plan to enforce RF comms to these physical limits. Within 10 miles is possible - they might not provide a service outside a certain radius, but do they expect pilots to not make radio calls when inbound to a field at, say, 3200 feet? And presumably that's 3000 feet QFE not QNH. And if so, I'll just *be* at 3200 feet - that's safer than everyone being at 2900 feet - and *tell* them I'm at 3000 feet. It'll make no odds and I'll still descend just the same, thanks. I might just need to keep my eyes open a bit.

    The thought that some aerodromes may become unavailable over the radio IS a safety hazard; presumably this is anticipated by Ofcom and they will expect aerodromes to foot the bill - which means me, as a private pilot will, in increased landing fees. Great. I'd hoped stealth taxation had gone out with the last government, but of course not.

    BTW flying is a great pastime, not the cheapest, but great fun. But I bet you could spend more on fags in a month than an hour at the controls. Intellectually, passing 7 exams was quite interesting too. More should try it.

  6. JaitcH

    How can they charge for, or change, the aeronautical AM, VHF band?

    The AM-VHF aeronautical band, with 25kHz spacing, is established as a world-wide standard so just what they think they can do with it?

    They can't re-assign it's use as it would contravene the ITU convention the UK, and every other country, is signatory to?

    I thought the Tories were putting these idiots out of business?

  7. Chad H.


    Of course the decrease for Gliders and Microlights won't mean jack if the EU follows its current course which will accidentally make basic flying illegal

  8. Pav Lucistnik


    The step is 25 kHz not 25 MHz ..

  9. HeyMickey

    Out by a factor of 10^3

    I think that should be 8.33/25 Kilo Hertz not Mega Hertz, since the whole VHF Airband is only ~29MHz wide...

  10. IR


    So once people are making more efficient use of the spectrum, I assume that Ofcom are going to try to use the empty parts for something else. Which is something they can make money from. Otherwise is is like only using half a towel for the sake of keeping the other half dry for no reason.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Self serving Ofcom logic

    A market price for something which, by international agreement, can't be traded does start to sound quite a bit like revenue raising. They seem to be quite unable to grasp the specifics of LoS at differing altitudes and quite uninterested in the potential impact on safety - or in fact anyone else's opinion. You'd never guess from the 'one size fits all' approach they were a very ideologically NuLab creation, would you?

  12. Kubla Cant Silver badge


    When I read "airplane", I thought I might suggest that the word on this side of the Atlantic is "aeroplane". But I concluded that would be a bit old-school.

    Later in the article I came upon "aerodrome", a word I thought hadn't been in general use since Neville Chamberlain flapped his piece of paper at Croydon. To qualify as an aerodrome, there have to be art deco buildings and passenger planes with propellors and tail-wheels.

    Surely "airplanes" fly from airfields or airports. The things at aerodromes are aeroplanes.

  13. Denarius Silver badge

    Costing everything ?

    How about you Poms suggest these quangos be forced to bid for each thing they wish to quango on. I am sure some Indian quangos could do the job at one third the price.

    After all, these bureaocrats cost money and have not been market tested for correct pricing, have they ? Must apply market costings to everything you know.

    Morons in Oz also banging on with the idea of all aircraft everywhere in Oz carrying radar transponders. Great idea 400 NM from black stump. Lots of power and room in a powered parasail, hang glider and so on. Morons the lot of them. Should be mandatory for all them to be qualified ultra lite or glider pilots before they are even allowed to do the snail mail, let alone decree policy.

    Seems to be a world wide conspiracy of the insane to stop everyone flying for fun.

  14. Badbob

    People, People, People......

    SI Units..... remember them???

    MHz = Megahertz

    kHz = Kilohertz (not KHz)

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