OFCOM Issue Their Decision On Charging For VHF Frequencies


OFCOM have just issued their decision on charging for VHF Com.


It is disappointing that OFCOM did not accept the overwhelming logic of our submissions and leave well alone.  However we know that the government has decided that charges will be applied and that is not surprising.  We now need to analyse the decision to see what it really means.


OFCOM intended to charge aerodromes some £2600 PA for each tower or A/G frequency and £9900 for an approach frequency.  This cost would have been passed on to users or the frequencies would have been given up and probably handed back to Europe for reallocation.  But following the persuasive arguments put forward by our sector, OFCOM have created a special category of Tower, A/G and FIS frequency allocation for small GA aerodromes with coverage of 10nm radius and 3000ft.  For this they will charge £650 instead of the current licence fee of £150; so an increase of £500 PA.


 In addition OFCOM have decided to extend the validity of aircraft radio licences from 1 year to 3 so instead of £20 PA for a fixed radio, owners would pay £20 every 3 years saving £13.33 PA.  Looked at overall this is an excellent result as we can see by example.  If you fly from an aerodrome with one frequency and 38 based aircraft, the base cost goes up by £500 = £13.15 PA each but each aircraft radio licence fee would go down by £13.33 PA.  Nationally there are about 10,000 radio licences issued to GA aircraft so the overall annual licence saving will be about £133,000.  We do not yet know the national cost to aerodromes but there are currently 150 A/G licences and the cost of those would go up by £75,000.  Of course the cost to larger aerodromes which offer a wider tower or approach frequency will go up significantly and they will need to look carefully at their business model to decide how to respond.


We will need to review the situation when we have more data and I have asked radio licensing at the CAA to help with that but this is undoubtedly a much better outcome than would have resulted if GA organisations had not put up a robust defence and in all probability this will be close to cost neutral overall for the lighter end of the sector.  There may even be a small saving at the expense of the heavier end.


I think this a good result that has been worthwhile.  It goes into my success box and I commend it to you.  More information when we have it.


Meanwhile our thanks go to those members who joined our Airspace Committee and helped put together our response to OFCOM.  Email me if you can help with future issues.


John Brady


15th December 2010