A consortium led by IAOPA Europe and aviation consultants Helios has applied for EU funds to offset the costs of upgrading equipment to meet new rules on 8.33kHz channel spacing - and they are calling on General Aviation (GA) users and aerodromes to pre-register now to obtain refunds where applicable.
Expansion of the voice channels available helps relieve congestion in the VHF band as mandated by SESAR – Single European Sky. Upper airspace has already been addressed and regulatory attention is now switching to lower airspace below FL195, commonly used by the GA community. The new regulations will affect all radios operating in the 117.975-137MHz band (the VHF band) - both airborne and ground based - and come into force from 31st December 2017 also for VFR.
If the consortium's application is successful, a refund of at least 20% will ease the financial burden for all general aviation aircraft and aerodromes in no less than 19 countries with the expected upgrades needed costing up to 147 million Euro. The countries covered are: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden and Switzerland.
Commenting on the initiative, Dr Michael Erb, Senior Vice President IAOPA (Europe) said: "New 8.33 radios in certified aircraft cost an average of around €5,000. So, it's definitely worth making a claim. We've applied for almost €37 million in grant funding, which would support the upgrade costs for over 26,000 airframes."
Philip Church, Helios' project director noted: "The timescales for the mandate are tight and the period to admit claims will be short. To increase the chance of getting a partial reimbursement of your costs we recommend that owners sign up right away and actively plan on equipping within the project timescales. It is a very simple registration procedure and you do not need to submit any documentation at this stage."
IAOPA Europe invites all GA aerodromes, aircraft owners, pilots and AeroClubs of all aircraft registered or owners based within the participating countries to find out more and pre-register at their dedicated website http://833.iaopa.eu. The refunds will be available for upgrades of radio equipment after February 7, 2017 on a "first come, first served" basis.