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Rule Part

47 C.F.R, Part 87

Radio Service Code(s)

  • AC - Aircraft Radio Service

The Telecommunications Act of 1996, which became law on February 8, 1996, brought about fundamental changes in the licensing of aircraft radio stations. Aircraft radio stations include all types of radio transmitting equipment used aboard an aircraft, e.g., two-way radiotelephones, radar, radionavigation equipment, and emergency locator transmitters (ELTs). The primary purpose of aircraft radio equipment is to ensure safety of aircraft in flight.


On October 25, 1996, the FCC released a Report and Order in WT Docket No. 96-82 (text) eliminating the individual licensing requirement for all aircraft, including scheduled air carriers, air taxis and general aviation aircraft operating domestically. This means that you do not need a license to operate a two-way VHF radio, radar, or emergency locator transmitter (ELT) aboard aircraft operating domestically. All other aircraft radio stations must be licensed by the FCC either individually or by fleet.
Aircraft operating domestically do not land in a foreign country or communicate via radio with foreign ground stations. Flying in international or foreign airspace is permitted, so long as the previous conditions are met. If you travel to a foreign destination, however, (e.g., Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, British Virgin Islands) a license is required.


The license term for a new or renewed grant is 10 years and a copy must be kept with the aircraft's station records. You may file for renewal beginning 90 days prior to the expiration date of your license. There is no grace period after your expiration date for renewals. Once the license expires you must apply for a new license.

Application Filing

FCC Form 605 is used by aircraft station applicants and licensees for new station applications, license modifications, application amendments, license renewals, license cancellations, application withdrawals, requests for duplicate licenses, and administrative updates to licenses. The FCC now requires you file your application electronically by using the Universal Licensing System (ULS).

Making Changes During a License Term

If the "N" number of the aircraft changes due to an administrative change by the FAA or if you change licensee information (legal name, address, etc.) you must submit an Administrative Update application online using the Universal Licensing System (ULS). There is no fee required for Administrative Update. No action is required when you add or replace a transmitter that operates in the same frequency band.

Assigning or Transferring an Aircraft Station License

Subject to the FCC's advance approval, you may assign an Aircraft Station License (as when you are selling the aircraft) or transfer control of an Aircraft Station License (as when there is a change in the ownership of the licensee or its parent company). To obtain the FCC's approval for the assignment or transfer of control, you must file electronically using the Universal Licensing System (ULS). There is no fee required. After the transaction is consummated, the assignee/transferee must file a notification of consummation using Schedule D of FCC Form 603. The notification of consummation must be filed within thirty (30) days of the actual consummation. (It must also be filed within six months after the FCC gives public notice of its consent to the application.)
As an alternative, the purchaser/new owner of the aircraft may file an application electronically for a new Aircraft Station License using the Universal Licensing System (ULS). An application for a new Aircraft Station License requires the payment of a filing fee. The existing Aircraft Station License will cancel automatically when the application for a new Aircraft Station License requesting the same tail number is submitted.

Licensing a Fleet of Aircraft

Under certain conditions, two or more aircraft having a common owner or operator may be issued a fleet license for operation of all aircraft radio stations aboard the aircraft in the fleet. This allows an applicant to submit a single application electronically for multiple aircraft. The total fee due for the fleet license, however, is the fee due for a single license multiplied by the total number of aircraft in the fleet. You must retain a copy of the fleet license with the station records of each aircraft.

An applicant for an Aircraft, Ship, Restricted Radiotelephone, Restricted Radiotelephone-Limited Use, and GMRS Radio Service may operate for 90 days under temporary authority evidenced by a properly executed certification made on FCC Form 605. This temporary authority is covered under FCC 605, Schedule F.

Special Temporary Authority (STA)

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grants Special Temporary Authority (STA) in emergencies or other urgent conditions requiring immediate or temporary use of facilities. Request may be made for STA to install and/or operate new or modified equipment, subject to the appropriate requirements governed by FCC C.F.R. 1.931(b). Note: Special Temporary Authorizations are applicable ONLY to Ship and Aircraft applicants/licensees.

The STA is issued for a temporary, non-recurring service where a regular authorization is not appropriate. The Commission may grant STA for a period not to exceed 180 days under the provisions of section 309(f) of the Communications Act of 1934.

Forms & Fees

Applicants are required to file electronically via the Universal Licensing System (ULS).  Applicants for Special Temporary Authority should apply electroniaclly via Universal Licensing System (ULS). All applications for STA must also include an attachment that would justify the need for an STA.
There are no filing fees associated with Special Temporary Authority (STA) in the Aircraft or Ship services.


The FCC requires electronic filing via the Universal Licensing System (ULS). Using ULS to file an application for a STA, access the ULS homepage, select Online Filing. Log in to License Manager using FCC Registration Number (FRN) and associated Password.
  1. On the left hand column choose Apply for a New License.
  2. Click down arrow and select Radio Service code. Click Continue.
  3. APPLICATION INFO: Complete Application Information. Be sure to select Special Temporary Authority from the drop down. Click continue to move through the pages of the application.
  4. ATTACHMENT: An attachment is required explaining in detail why you need to be issued a temporary license and how long you will need the temporary license. Click the "Attachment" button at the top of the page. This will open a separate screen on your computer. Complete the attachment information and click "Add Attachment." Close this screen to get back to the application.
  5. Review the summary page before continuing to certify the filing and submit. This will be the final chance to review your information before submission. Once you have completed the review on the summary page click "Continue to Certify."
  6. Certification information will now appear and you will need to sign. Click the "Submit" button at the bottom right hand side of the page. Print confirmation page or jot down File number.
  7. If a fee is required ULS will automatically calculate this fee. Click the "Continue to CORES for Payment" button to make payment online.
If additional assistance is needed in completing the filing information, please submit a help request at https://www.fcc.gov/wtbhelp or call the ULS Customer Support Hotline at 1-877-480-3201, select option 2.


You may only use your hand-held aircraft VHF radio in your aircraft under the terms of your aircraft license. You are required to have a separate Ground Station license to operate your radio on the ground.


Radio transmitters to be used in aircraft must be type accepted in accordance with Part 87 of the Commission's Rules except that radio transmitters to be used in conjunction with aeronautical public service frequencies must be type accepted in accordance with Part 80.
Licensees are authorized to make routine tests of their station equipment when required for proper maintenance, but precautions must be taken to avoid interference with any other station. The frequency 121.5 MHz may not be used for such a test.

Station Operation

The licensee of a radio station is responsible at all times for the proper operation of the station. Radio operators should use the following guidelines to make radio a useful tool for safe and efficient flight:
  • Tune both transmitter and receiver to the correct channels.
  • Be sure the channel is clear before transmitting.
  • Be brief. Transmit essential messages only.
  • Shorten or eliminate test calls on the ramp or in flight.
  • Identify transmission with FCC call sign or FAA "N" number.

Emergency and Distress

The frequency 121.5 MHz is the international simplex channel for use by aircraft in distress or emergency. It is assigned only in combination with other operational frequencies. The frequency 243 MHz is available to survival craft stations and emergency locator transmitters which are also equipped to transmit on 121.5 MHz.

International Operations

Stations aboard aircraft flying outside U.S. territory may communicate with foreign ground stations using frequencies that are not specified on their FCC station license. Aircraft radio operators on international flights should be aware of the requirements of foreign administrations.

Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit

At least one person on each aircraft flying or communicating internationally must have a Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit. This requirement is in addition to the requirement to have an aircraft radio station license for the aircraft. No Restricted Radiotelephone Operator Permit is required to operate VHF radio equipment on board an aircraft when that aircraft is flown domestically. You may obtain a Restricted Permit using FCC Form 605. No test is required to obtain this permit. The permit when issued will be valid for your lifetime. The fee for a Restricted Permit is in addition to any fee paid for an aircraft license.

Conditional Authority

You may operate your aircraft radio after you have submitted your application(s) to the FCC so long as you fill out, detach, and retain FCC Form 605, Schedule F. The temporary operating authority is valid for 90 days after you submit your application to the FCC and should be kept with your station records until your your license/permit has been granted.

Acceptable Radios

As of January 1, 1997, each VHF aircraft radio used on board a U.S. aircraft must be type accepted by the FCC as meeting a 30 parts-per-million (ppm) frequency tolerance (47 C.F.R. § 87.133). The vast majority of aircraft radios that have been type accepted under the 30 ppm frequency tolerance utilize 25 kHz spacing and have 720 or 760 channels. Each aircraft radio has a label with an FCC ID number on the unit.
This rule applies to all U.S. aircraft radio stations, including those no longer required to be licensed individually. The effect of this rule is to require a 30 ppm type accepted radio to be placed on board if the pilot intends to use a VHF aircraft radio for communications. There is no requirement, however, for an older radio to be removed from an aircraft in cases where the pilot does not intend to use it to transmit radio signals (e.g., receive-only operation, an integral part of a navigation/communications unit, or decoration in a vintage aircraft).
A radio which has not been type accepted as 30 ppm may not be returned to service by simply changing the crystals, or adjusting the unit to meet the 30 ppm frequency tolerance. The only way to bring a unit into compliance is through the installation of an FCC type accepted "upgrade kit," which may be available from the unit's manufacturer. Like the radio itself the upgrade kit will have an FCC ID number that may be verified against the FCC Aircraft Radio List. Presently, however, few manufacturers offer FCC type accepted upgrade kits. If a kit is not available for a particular model of radio, the radio may not be adjusted and used for communications purposes on board an aircraft. If no kit is available, the radio may be reinstalled in the aircraft so long it is not intended to be used to transmit radio signals.
The Commission adopted the 30 ppm frequency tolerance in 1984 in order to conform its rules with those adopted internationally in the Final Acts of the World Administrative Radio Conference, Geneva, 1979. At that time, this action was endorsed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and was strongly supported by Aeronautical Radio, Inc., the Air Line Pilots Association, the Air Transport Association, and the National Business Aircraft Association, Inc. This action was found to be consistent with the FAA's three-phase plan to implement 25 kHz channel spacing in the 118-137 MHz band, which creates more radio channels for use by pilots. These organizations also noted that users of older radios would have limited access to FAA air traffic control channels, would experience flight delays in FAA controlled air space, and would be unable to utilize newly available aviation frequencies in the 136-137 MHz band. Based on comments by the FAA and the other groups listed above, the Commission determined that permitting the continued operation of older radios type accepted prior to 1974 would pose a threat to safety in air navigation.
The Commission has taken steps to minimize the impact of this rule change on small entities and private pilots, including: (1) providing over a decade for the transition to more efficient radio equipment, (2) not requiring radios to be removed from aircraft in cases where pilots do not intend to use them to transmit radio signals (e.g., receive-only operation, an integral part of a navigation/communications unit, or decoration in a vintage aircraft), and (3) giving manufacturers the flexibility to type accept and market "upgrade kits."

Unacceptable Aircraft Radios

The radios listed below are not acceptable for use in aircraft after January 1, 1997. You may continue to use your aircraft radio so long as it does not appear on the list below.

Aeronautical Electronics, Inc. or Aerotron Inc.

  • 500-A
  • 500-B
  • 500-C
  • 500-CD
  • 5W10

AIL Div of Cutler Hammer

  • 352120
  • FA-8613

Air Comm Electronics

  • TVT-1
  • TVT-1A

Aircraft Radio Corp.

  • 7005UAMNW-D
  • 7005UAXNW-D
  • RT-11A
  • RT-11B
  • RT-11B-1
  • RT-11D
  • RT-131A
  • RT-302A
  • RT-302G
  • RT-308C
  • RT-317A
  • RT-317G
  • RT-317G-1
  • RT-321A
  • RT-328A
  • RT-328C
  • RT-331A
  • RT-422A
  • RT-432A
  • RT-503A
  • RT-508A
  • RT-513A
  • RT-513A-20
  • RT-515A
  • RT-515R
  • RT-515R-1
  • RT-516A
  • RT-517R
  • RT-522A
  • RT-524A
  • RT-524M
  • RT-528A
  • RT-528E
  • RT-528E-1
  • RT-532A
  • RT-540A
  • RT-831A
  • T-22
  • T-25A
  • T-25B
  • T-25C
  • T-25D
  • T-27A

American Electronic Labs

  • RAM-1

Avitron Inc.

  • RT-17B
  • RT-17H

Avtek Co.

  • RT-10D/RTI-1
  • RT-10E/RTI-1A

Bayside Elctronics Company

  • BEI 1060A
  • BEI-901
  • BEI-901D
  • BEI-901M
  • BEI-901P
  • BEI-990
  • BEI-990-P

Bendix Corp. Or Bendix Aviation Corp.

  • 350A1
  • 350B1
  • 351A
  • 351AE
  • 351B
  • 351BE
  • RT221
  • RT-221A-14
  • RT-221A-28
  • RT-221AE-14
  • RT-221AE-28
  • RT-241A
  • RTA-41A
  • RTA-41B
  • RTA-42A
  • TA-18BB-1
  • TA-18C-1
  • TA-20A-1A
  • TA-20B-1A
  • TA-21A-1
  • TA-22 A
  • TA-22 B

Cessna Aircraft Co.

  • CC-301A
  • CC-303A
  • CC-304A
  • CC-312A
  • CC-313A
  • CC-313E
  • CC-315A
  • CC-401A
  • CC-402A

Collins Radio Company Or Collins Radio Group,Rockwell International

  • 17M-1
  • 242F-5
  • 242F-5CL
  • 242F-5CL-F
  • 242F-5CL-H
  • 242F-5CL-R
  • 618F-1C
  • 618F-1D

Cossor Electronics Ltd

  • CRM 555
  • CRM 555
  • CRM 555A
  • CRM 555A

Cubic Industrial Corp.

  • WV-104

Dayton Aviation Radio Equip.

  • DTR-360-1
  • DTR-360A
  • DTR-360A-1
  • DTR-360B
  • DTR-360B-1
  • DTR-360C
  • DTR-360CE
  • DTX-10
  • DTX-10E
  • DTX-25
  • DTX-25E
  • SST-1

Dynair Electronics, Inc.

  • RADAIR 10
  • RADAIR 360
  • RT-4010A
  • SKY-515
  • SKY-515A
  • SKY-515AMW

E F Johnson

  • 242-406

E-Systems, Inc. Montek Division

  • MM-1000

EDO Aire

  • ATX-770
  • RT-551
  • RT-553
  • RT-661( )
  • RT-771
  • RT-771A
  • RT-773
  • RTD-771

ERCO Radio Laboratories Inc.

  • 412-TB1
  • 412-TB2
  • 412-TB3
  • 412-TB4
  • 412-TB5
  • 412-TB6

Fran Air Co

  • GS-2A

General Aviation Electronics

  • ALPHA/300
  • ALPHA/360

General Avionics

  • GA-200

Gonset Div of Layco Inc.

  • 3111-GA
  • 3112-AIR
  • 3112-GA
  • 3139-GA
  • 3227
  • GA-118

Gonset Inc.

  • GA-118

Granger Associates

  • 547

Hallicrafters Co.

  • W15AM-MNMD
  • W15AM-SNMD

ITT Kellogg

  • SCL-325A-1


  • ARC-1/JX-50
  • LVTR-36/CAL-1

King Radio

  • KTR-900
  • KX-100
  • KX-100A
  • KX-110
  • KX-120
  • KX-130
  • KX-150
  • KX-150A
  • KX-150B
  • KX-160
  • KX-160-1
  • KX-170
  • KX-170A
  • KX170A
  • KX-175
  • KX175
  • KY 195
  • KY-90
  • KY-90A
  • KY-95

Lightcraft Avionics

  • 66

Mentor Radio Company

  • M360
  • TR-10X
  • TR-10XA
  • TR-10XA-1
  • TR-10XV
  • TR-12

Mitchell Industries Inc.

  • AT-91-47A
  • AT-91-50A

Motorola Inc.

  • 350A
  • 350A1
  • 350B
  • 350B1
  • 5642-A

Multitech Pwr Sys/Avionics

  • ML-200
  • ML-360


  • 60
  • 60-1
  • 60-2
  • 60-3
  • 60-3A
  • 60-3B
  • 60-3C

National Aeronautical Corp.

  • 1016
  • 1016A
  • COM-100/MP-100/14
  • COM-100/MP-100/28
  • COM11 TSO
  • ESCORT 110
  • MARK 10
  • MARK 12
  • MARK 12A
  • MARK 12B
  • MARK 16
  • MARK 24
  • MARK 3
  • MARK 5
  • MARK 7
  • MARK 8
  • MARK V
  • MARK X
  • MARK X11B
  • MK 12B
  • MK X11B
  • VC-12AZ
  • VC-12BZ
  • VC-12Z
  • VC-27A
  • VC-27Z
  • VGTR-2A
  • VGTR-3
  • VHT-1/VTP-34
  • VHT-2/VTP-34
  • VHT-3
  • VHT-4
  • VT-4
  • VTA-3A
  • VTR-1/VTP-34
  • VTR-2A
  • VTR-2/VTP-34
  • VTR-2A
  • VTR-1/VTP-34

Nova Tech Inc

  • TR-102A
  • TR-102/CAP-1

Piper Aircraft Corp

  • PTR-1

Pye Communications

  • W15AM-MNMD
  • W15AM-SNMO

Pye Corporation of America

  • PTC-2002-U
  • PTC-2102U

RAD-O-LITE or Radair Div of Uniwest Inc or RAD-O-LITE of Philadelphia Inc

  • RADAIR-10
  • RADAIR 10S
  • RADAIR 360

RCA Corp or Radio Corp of America

  • AVC-110
  • AVC-111

Skycrafters Aviation Radio or Skycrafters Inc

  • AMT-9
  • SKY-505
  • SKY-515
  • TRV-122A
  • TRV-128A

Skyway or EMCEE Electronics Skyway

  • ST-10
  • SX-1
  • SX-15

Springer Aircraft Radio Corp

  • AR179/180

Sunair Electronics Inc.

  • SA-1036
  • SA-360
  • SA-360E
  • SA-90

Texas Instruments

  • 916388-1

Turner Aircraft Radio Inc.

  • 230C-1

U S Naviguide Corp

  • AT103B

Wilcox Electric Co Inc

  • 097798-0100
  • 097990-0100
  • 098175-0200
  • 098188-0100
  • 1007A
  • 406A PN 97043-200
  • 476A
  • 482 PN97210-200
  • 482 PN97211-200
  • 482 PN97212-200
  • 482 PN97213-200
  • 483 PN97214-200
  • 483 PN97215-200
  • 483 PN97216-200
  • 483 PN97217-200
  • 485A 97557-100
  • 485APN97557-100
  • 485B PN97740
  • 707A,PN97271A-M9
  • 707A,PN97271-M9
  • 707A PN97494-100
  • 807A
  • FA-8008
  • FA-8848