Regulation of Aeronautical Radio System Spectrum Access

Without access to radio spectrum it would be impossible to undertake national and international flights safely. Aeronautical radiocommunications systems are used to support communications, navigation and surveillance applications which range from two-way communications between air traffic control and pilots to on board weather and location radars. These applications make use of various frequency bands allocated to a number of aeronautical radio services in the International Telecommunications Union Radio Regulations (ITU RR).

Although aeronautical radio spectrum falls within the ITU regulatory framework for allocation and use, it is also regulated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to ensure the necessary global interoperability which supports the required safety assurance for air operations. It requires the cooperative interworking of a complex set of multi layered organisations – global, regional and national, across the two different domains – telecommunications and aviation.

Due to the characteristics of the spectrum allocated for use in aeronautical radio systems there is high demand for the frequencies requiring rigorous sharing approaches. This paper provides an overview of key national and international organisations and regulatory instruments involved in the management of aeronautical radio spectrum access and explains how regulatory responsibilities are undertaken by the telecommunications and civil aviation authorities.