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In the US, if a civil aircraft has a UHF radio are there any regulations against it performing ATC communication on the UHF bands?

Pointers to the appropriate CFR's would be appreciated.

This question does not concern operating under an emergency state of any kind. The aircraft is assumed to be in compliance with all regulations otherwise at the time.

The reason for excluding emergency status, is that in an emergency the FCC states you can use whatever methods available to obtain help.

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    $\begingroup$ Most ATC stations do not have UHF... $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Feb 24 '17 at 14:43
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    $\begingroup$ Can you give an example of one of these plates with a UHF frequency? $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Feb 24 '17 at 14:57
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    $\begingroup$ Rowan Hawkins I don't think that was an unreasonable question from @RonBeyer. There are quite a few people here (like Ron) who know to find their way in the regulations or have a network that can find the answer you are looking for. These people may not be using airport plates at all. If you would like others to help you finding an answer to your question, you may want to help them finding it. $\endgroup$ – DeltaLima Feb 24 '17 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ @DeltaLima point taken. Ron usually at larger airports or those near military service airstations of which there are both nearby. The vhf frequencies are in the 118-130 mhz range, uhf frequencies are in the low 220's up to about 357 mhz $\endgroup$ – Rowan Hawkins Feb 24 '17 at 15:36
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    $\begingroup$ @Federico its fine, interesting, and an example of why I excluded emcomm $\endgroup$ – Rowan Hawkins Feb 24 '17 at 15:38
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The UHF air band operates in AM in a general range of 225.0–399.95 MHz. Many ATC functions have both VHF and UHF frequencies. For example, Newark Liberty Tower uses 118.3 and 257.6. ATC will often broadcast on both the VHF and UHF frequencies.

You can look up these frequencies on the FCC frequency allocation table to see who is allowed to use these frequencies. This is also located in CFR Title 47, §2.106.

According to the table, the the non-emergency allocation of these frequencies is Federal use:

In the bands 225-328.6 MHz, 335.4-399.9 MHz, and 1350-1390 MHz, the fixed and mobile services are limited to the military services.

The bands 235-322 MHz and 335.4-399.9 MHz are also allocated on a primary basis to the mobile-satellite service, limited to military operations.

There are no non-Federal uses cited for those ranges. Also, per Title 47 §2.102(c):

Non-Federal stations may be authorized to use Federal frequencies in the bands above 25 MHz if the Commission finds, after consultations with the appropriate Federal agency or agencies, that such use is necessary for coordination of Federal and non-Federal activities

So it seems that if you don't have a military purpose, outside of special agreements you are not allowed to use these frequencies. For more information, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) has reports on the usage of the lower portion and upper portion of this band.


Technically there are also limited non-Federal uses but they don't apply to this question:

The frequency 243 MHz is the frequency in this band for use by survival craft stations and equipment used for survival purposes.

...may also be used, in accordance with the procedures in force for terrestrial radiocommunication services, for search and rescue operations concerning manned space vehicles.

For the gap in the ranges mentioned above:

The use of the band 328.6-335.4 MHz by the aeronautical radionavigation service is limited to Instrument Landing Systems (glide path).

And additionally for 322-328.6 MHz:

...all practicable steps shall be taken to protect the radio astronomy service from harmful interference.

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    $\begingroup$ I would guess that an airplane is a radio station with a specific FCC license to operate in certain bands; so transmitting in unauthorized bands would violate the terms of the station's (airplane's) FCC license. Not adding this as an answer because I don't actually know anything. $\endgroup$ – Wayne Conrad Mar 2 '18 at 20:11
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    $\begingroup$ I asked the question because for general aviation pilots there is no requirement for nor is there provision for an FCC license. Use of those frequencies is all devolved from the FAA. I was primarily hoping for anything listed in the FAA rules, but the FCC listing for the military aviation bands I had not thought to check beforehand. $\endgroup$ – Rowan Hawkins Mar 4 '18 at 14:01
  • $\begingroup$ @RowanHawkins Technically, the FCC has licensed US aircraft radio stations and pilots "by rule". And you can get a normal license for both; they're required to fly outside the US. $\endgroup$ – StephenS Jul 21 at 19:04

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