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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

118.0000 - 121.4000  Air Traffic Control
121.4250 - 121.4500  Govt AWOS/ASOS
121.4750 - 121.5250  Band Protection for 121.5
121.5500 - 121.5750  Govt AWOS/ASOS
121.6000 - 121.9250  Air Traffic Control (Old gnd ctrl freq band)
121.7750             SAR ELT Location training
121.9750             FSS Private Aircraft Advisory
122.0000 - 122.0500  En Route Flight Advisory Service (EFAS)
                     (EFAS/Flight Watch services were discontinued on 10/01/2015 and merged with AFSS)
122.0750 - 122.6750  FSS Private Aircraft Advisory
122.7000 - 122.7250  Unicom - Uncontrolled Airports
122.8000             Unicom - Uncontrolled Airports
122.8250             Domestic VHF
122.8750             Unicom, Domestic VHF
122.9500             Unicom - Airports with full time ATCT or FSS
122.9750 - 123.0000  Unicom - Uncontrolled Airports
123.0500 - 123.0750  Unicom - Uncontrolled Airports
123.1250 - 123.1750  Flight Test itinerant
123.2000 - 123.2750  Flight Test
123.3250 - 123.3750  Flight Test
123.4250 - 123.4750  Flight Test
123.5250 - 123.5750  Flight Test
123.6000 - 126.8000  Air Traffic Control
128.8250 - 132.0000  Operational Control
132.0250 - 136.4750  Air Traffic Control
136.5000 - 136.8750  Domestic VHF
136.9000 - 136.9750  International and Domestic VHF

FAA Order 6050.32B Appendix 2.

Common Civilian Frequencies

Frequency  Type  Tone  Alpha Tag  Description  Mode  Tag 
121.50000    VHF Guard Aircraft Emergency and Distress (VHF Guard)  AM  Aircraft 
121.95000    AvSup 121.95 Aviation Support  AM  Business 
122.75000    Air-Air 122.750 Aircraft air-to-air  AM  Aircraft 
122.77500    AvSup 122.775 Aviation Support  AM  Business 
122.85000    Multi 122.85 Multicom, Aviation Support  AM  Aircraft 
122.90000    Multi 122.9 Multicom, Search and Rescue Training  AM  Aircraft 
122.92500    Multi 122.925 Multicom - Special Use, Natural resource management  AM  Aircraft 
123.02500    Helo Air-Air Helicopter Air-to-Air  AM  Aircraft 
123.10000    SAR Primary Search and Rescue primary, ATC for special events secondary  AM  Aircraft 
123.12500    FlightTest123.12 Flight Test itinerant  AM  Business 
123.15000    FlightTest123.15 Flight Test itinerant  AM  Business 
123.17500    FlightTest123.17 Flight Test itinerant  AM  Business 
123.20000    FlightTest123.2 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.22500    FlightTest123.22 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.25000    FlightTest123.25 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.27500    FlightTest123.27 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.30000    AvSup 123.3 Aviation Support  AM  Business 
123.32500    FlightTest123.32 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.35000    FlightTest123.35 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.37500    FlightTest123.37 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.40000    FlightTest123.4 Flight Test itinerant  AM  Business 
123.42500    FlightTest123.42 Flight Test itinerant  AM  Business 
123.45000    FlightTest123.45 Flight Test/Unofficial Air-to-Air  AM  Business 
123.47500    FlightTest123.47 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.50000    AvSup 123.5 Aviation Support  AM  Business 
123.52500    FlightTest123.52 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.55000    FlightTest123.55 Flight Test  AM  Business 
123.57500    FlightTest123.57 Flight Test  AM  Business 
126.20000    MilCom 126.2 Military Common (advisory)  AM  Aircraft 
134.10000    MilCom 134.1 Military Common (advisory)  AM  Aircraft 
135.85000    FltIns135.85 FAA Flight Inspection  AM  Federal 
135.95000    FltIns135.95 FAA Flight Inspection  AM  Federal 
122.20000    Flt Watch Wx Flight Watch Weather  AM  Aircraft 
129.52500    Deicing Comm Deicing Common  AM  Business 
121.77500    ELT Training Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) Training Beacons  AM  Aircraft 
122.70000    FAA 122.700 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
122.72500    FAA 122.725 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
122.80000    FAA 122.8 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
122.97500    FAA 122.975 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
123.00000    FAA 123.000 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
123.05000    FAA 123.05 Unicom  AM  Aircraft 
123.07500    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 a aircraft. This way airline dispatchers can maintain 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 / Carribean
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  Tone  Alpha Tag  Description  Mode  Tag 
129.12500  BM  CSQ  ACARS 129.125 ACARS  AM  Data 
130.02500  BM  CSQ  ACARS 130.025 ACARS  AM  Data 
131.12500  BM  CSQ  ACARS 131.125 ACARS (High Traffic Areas)  AM  Data 
131.55000  BM  CSQ  ACARS ARINC Base ARINC-Americas Base Frequency  AM  Data 
130.45000  BM  CSQ  ACARS 130.450 ACARS (High Traffic Areas)  AM  Data 
136.80000  BM  CSQ  ACARS 136.8 ACARS  AM  Data 
136.75000  BM  CSQ  ACARS 136.75 ACARS  AM  Data 
136.97500  BM  CSQ  VDL Mode 2 VHF Data Link (VDL) Mode 2  AM  Data 
129.52500  BM  CSQ  ACARS 129.525 ACARS  AM  Data 
131.72500  BM  CSQ  ACARS SITA Base SITA Base Frequency  AM  Data 
129.35000  BM  CSQ  ACARS 129.35 ACARS  AM  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 primarily owned by 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 USA



  • - 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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