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Aircraft use Airband as their primary means of voice communication. In North America, the spectrum from 118.000 to 136.975 MHz is used with 25 kHz spacing and AM. As of 2010 aeronautical enroute and flight test stations may use 8.33 kHz spaced channels in the 121.4-123.6, 128.825-132.0 and 136.5-136.875 MHz ranges.

VHF Allocation - 118-137 MHz

Lower Frequency Upper Frequency Allocation
118.000 121.400 ATC
121.425 121.450 Gov AWOS/ASOS
121.475 Band Protection for 121.500
121.500 Emergency Frequency (Guard)
121.525 Band Protection for 121.500
121.550 121.575 Gov AWOS/ASOS
121.600 121.925 ATC (Old Ground Control Frequency Band)
121.775 SAR ELT Location Training
121.950 Aviation Support
121.975 FSS Private Aircraft Advisory
122.000 122.050 EFAS (Callsign "Flightwatch" terminated 10/1/2015 and merged with FSS)
122.075 122.675 FSS Private Aircraft Advisory
122.700 122.725 UNICOM - Uncontrolled Airports
122.750 Fixed Wing Aircraft - Air to Air
122.775 Aviation Support
122.800 UNICOM - Uncontrolled Airports
122.825 Domestic VHF
122.850 MULTICOM
122.875 UNICOM - Domestic VHF
122.900 MULTICOM - SAR Training
122.925 MULTICOM - Special Use/ National Response Management
122.950 UNICOM - Full Time ATCT, FSS
122.975 123.000 UNICOM - Uncontrolled Airports
123.025 Helicopter Air-to-Air
123.025 123.075 UNICOM - Uncontrolled Airports
123.100 SAR; Temp. ATCTs and Fly-ins with SAR Coordination
123.125 123.275 Flight Test
123.300 Aviation Support
123.325 123.475 Flight Test (123.450 Used for Air-to-Air Communications Over Remote and Oceanic Areas Out of Range of VHF Ground Stations)
123.500 Aviation Support
123.525 123.575 Flight Test
123.600 123.650 ATC (Formerly Air Carrier Advisory. FSS Uses Phased Out)
123.675 126.175 ATC
126.200 Military Common (Advisory)
126.225 128.800 ATC
128.825 132.000 Operational Control. Coordinated by ARINC (See Airline Operations Below)
132.025 134.075 ATC
134.100 Military Common (Advisory)
134.125 135.825 ATC
135.850 FAA Flight Inspection
135.875 135.925 ATC
135.950 FAA Flight Inspection
135.975 136.400 ATC
136.425 136.475 Old FIS. (Now Unallocated)
136.500 136.875 Domestic VHF
136.900 136.975 International and Domestic VHF

FAA Order 6050.32B Change 1 Appendix 2 Figure 1.

Common Civilian Frequencies

Frequency  Type  Tone  Alpha Tag  Description  Mode  Tag 
121.50000  CSQ  VHF Guard Aircraft Emergency and Distress (VHF Guard)  AM  Aircraft 
121.95000  CSQ  AvSup 121.95 Aviation Support  AM  Business 
122.75000  CSQ  Air-Air 122.750 Aircraft air-to-air  AM  Aircraft 
122.77500  CSQ  AvSup 122.775 Aviation Support  AM  Business 
122.85000  CSQ  Multi 122.85 Multicom, Aviation Support  AM  Aircraft 
122.90000  CSQ  Multi 122.9 Multicom, Search and Rescue Training  AM  Aircraft 
122.92500  CSQ  Multi 122.925 Multicom - Special Use, Natural resource management  AM  Aircraft 
123.02500  CSQ  Helo Air-Air Helicopter Air-to-Air  AM  Aircraft 
123.10000  CSQ  SAR Primary Search and Rescue primary, ATC for special events secondary  AM  Aircraft 
123.12500  CSQ  FlightTest123.12 Flight Test itinerant  AM  Business 
123.15000  CSQ  FlightTest123.15 Flight Test itinerant  AM  Business 
123.17500  CSQ  FlightTest123.17 Flight Test itinerant  AM  Business 
123.20000  CSQ  FlightTest123.2 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.22500  CSQ  FlightTest123.22 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.25000  CSQ  FlightTest123.25 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.27500  CSQ  FlightTest123.27 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.30000  CSQ  AvSup 123.3 Aviation Support  AM  Business 
123.32500  CSQ  FlightTest123.32 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.35000  CSQ  FlightTest123.35 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.37500  CSQ  FlightTest123.37 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.40000  CSQ  FlightTest123.4 Flight Test itinerant  AM  Business 
123.42500  CSQ  FlightTest123.42 Flight Test itinerant  AM  Business 
123.45000  CSQ  FlightTest123.45 Flight Test/Unofficial Air-to-Air  AM  Business 
123.47500  CSQ  FlightTest123.47 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.50000  CSQ  AvSup 123.5 Aviation Support  AM  Business 
123.52500  CSQ  FlightTest123.52 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.55000  CSQ  FlightTest123.55 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.57500  CSQ  FlightTest123.57 Flight Test  AM  Business 
126.20000  CSQ  MilCom 126.2 Military Common (advisory)  AM  Aircraft 
134.10000  CSQ  MilCom 134.1 Military Common (advisory)  AM  Aircraft 
135.85000  CSQ  FltIns135.85 FAA Flight Inspection  AM  Federal 
135.95000  CSQ  FltIns135.95 FAA Flight Inspection  AM  Federal 
122.20000  CSQ  Flt Watch Wx Flight Watch Weather  AM  Aircraft 
129.52500  CSQ  Deicing Comm Deicing Common  AM  Business 
121.77500  CSQ  ELT Training Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) Training Beacons  AM  Aircraft 
122.70000  CSQ  FAA 122.700 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
122.72500  CSQ  FAA 122.725 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
122.80000  CSQ  FAA 122.8 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
122.97500  CSQ  FAA 122.975 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
123.00000  CSQ  FAA 123.000 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
123.05000  CSQ  FAA 123.05 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
123.07500  CSQ  FAA 123.075 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
122.95000  BM  CSQ  Unicom 122.95 Unicom - Controlled Airports  AM  Aircraft 

Common Military Frequencies

In recent years many PMSV stations have moved off of the four older nationwide common frequencies.

243.0000  Aircraft Emergency and Distress (Military Guard)
257.8000  Air Traffic Control (Military Common)
282.8000  Search and Rescue
255.4000  FAA Flight Service Stations
296.7000  FAA Flight Service Stations
239.8000  PMSV (Pilot to Metro Service - weather advisory)
342.5000  PMSV
344.6000  PMSV
375.2000  PMSV
303.0000  Air-to-air "Winchester"
311.0000  USAF ACC Command Posts Pimary
321.0000  USAF ACC Command Posts Secondary
381.3000  USAF ACC Command Posts
319.4000  USAF AMC Command Posts  
349.4000  USAF AMC Command Posts
252.1000  USAF Reserve Command Posts
351.2000  USAF Reserve Command Posts
364.2000  USAF NORAD AICC Primary
380.0000  FAA Flight Inspection/ SMO Ground Personnel
380.1000  FAA Flight Inspection/ SMO Ground Personnel

ARINC En Route Service

ARINC operates a wide area radio network, primarily to enable airline customers to create voice patches. It is available above 20,000 feet and on the ground at select airports. Use examples include pilot to dispatch, maintenance control, or medical advisors. This is usually used to supplement ACARS or in lieu of ACARS if it is inoperative on an aircraft. This way airline dispatchers can maintain operational control of their aircraft in flight. Delta Air Lines maintains a similar but separate network called "Atlanta Radio".

In the contiguous US, the base station callsign is "San Francisco Radio" except on Gulf Net, Maritime Net and Mex Net which are "New York Radio."

VHF en route frequencies changed effective 04 Apr 2012:

128.9000  Southwest USA
129.4000  Northeast USA / Great Lakes Area / Canada West Coast and Anchorage
129.4500  East Central USA
131.8000  Northwest USA
129.9000  Maritime Net (Northeast Coast USA)
130.7000  Mexico / Caribbean
131.1750  Southeast USA
130.4000  West Central USA
131.9500  Pacific Net (West Coast USA and Hawaii)

Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS)

ACARS data is used to send messages to and from commercial airlines' aircraft.

Frequency  Type  Alpha Tag  Description  Mode  Tag 
131.72500  BM  ACARS SITA Base Base Frequency  Telm  Data 
129.35000  BM  SITA 129.35 En Route  Telm  Data 
130.87500  BM  SITA 130.875 Terminal  Telm  Data 
131.65000  BM  SITA 131.650 Terminal  Telm  Data 
128.97500  BM  SITA 128.975 Terminal - Spare  Telm  Data 
131.00000  BM  SITA 131.000 Terminal - Spare  Telm  Data 
131.47500  BM  SITA 131.475 DataPlus (Air Canada) En Route  Telm  Data 

Balloon Operations

123.3000 Common air-to-ground (pilot-to-chase crew), shared with glider ops.
123.5000 Common air-to-ground (pilot-to-chase crew), shared with glider ops.
122.7500 Common air-to-air
122.0000 AFSS Weather requests

Airline Operations

The frequencies between 128.825-132.000 and 136.500-136.975 MHz are managed and coordinated by Aviation Spectrum Resources, Inc (ASRI). ASRI was spun off from Aeronautical Radio, INC (ARINC) in 2010. ARINC is now owned by Collins Aerospace and ASRI is owned by a consortium of U.S. airlines. Operations such as pilot to FBO, pilot to airline ground operation station, pilot to dispatch via a radio network such as San Francisco Radio, and deice trucks are found almost exclusively between 128.825-132.000. Coordinating and FCC licensing is handled by ASRI. The licensee in FCC licenses is almost always ASRI, thus obfuscating the license's user. Source

At large airports (DFW, DEN, DTW, ORD, LAX, among many others), the ramps are controlled by the airlines, not the FAA air traffic control. The ramp controllers provide permission for aircraft to enter and park at their gates, push back from the gate and start, and maintain the flow of traffic in their alleyways. Most ramp frequencies are found in the 128.825-132.000 range. These ramp frequencies are seldom published by the FAA.

Airline deice trucks at small and midsized stations often use the corresponding operations frequency. At hub airports, deice trucks often (not always) have dedicated frequencies; these dedicated frequencies often do not have a corresponding FCC license because its mobile to mobile and coordinated by ASRI.

Conventions for Abbreviating Frequencies

In the VHF band, frequency designations read over the radio are often abbreviated. Sometimes for brevity, sometimes as another way to read back a frequency assignment to make sure it was received correctly, and occasionally out of laziness. The following conventions have varying degrees of acceptance in the US.

  • Ground frequencies: previously ground frequencies were assigned frequencies beginning in 121. So in reading back ground frequencies, the "121" may be assumed. So if the ground frequency is 121.600, it may be shorted to ".6" ("point six").
  • Omitting the last digit in a frequency ending in 5: because ATC frequencies are spaced at 0.025 MHz (example, 132.000, 132.025, 132.050, 132.075) when the third decimal place is a 5 it may be omitted. So if the assigned frequency is 132.225, it may be read back as "132.22" ("one-three-two point two-two). This is perfectly acceptable by all controllers and users, many aircraft radios even omit the third decimal point.
  • Omitting the leading one: since VHF ATC frequencies begin with a 1, the 1 may be assumed. Not proper but still common. 123.050 can be shorted to "23.05" ("two-three point zero-five").
  • Middle four digits: combining the last two conventions and sometimes omitting the "point". 118.675 may be shorted to "1867" ("one-eight-six-seven" or "eighteen-sixty seven").

See Also

External Links

Federal Aviation Administration

Aeronautical Data and Aircraft Tracking


Other Links


  • - Contains a Google Earth .kml map of ASRI VHF (128.825-136.975) ground stations.
  • - Contains a Google Earth .kml map of ARTCCs, ARTCC boundaries, ARTCC RCAG sites, Partial list of ARTCC radar sites, AFSS Hubs, AFSS RCO sites, and Navaids.


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