VATSIM, the free-to-use Virtual Air Traffic Simulation network, announced via Discord the upcoming trial of 8.33 kHz VHF frequency spacing. Predominately utilized by real-world air traffic control in Europe since 2007, reducing the spacing between consecutive frequencies from 25 kHz to 8.33 kHz more than doubles the number of ATC channels available. VATSIM says the goals of this trial will be to determine the feasibility of using 8.33 kHz spacing to resolve the difficulties some divisions and subdivisions have had with frequency availability and conflicts with neighboring frequencies. The 3-month trial begins September 7 and will take place in Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK.
“VATSIM is always striving to make the operations on the network more realistic. With more and more simulators and add-ons supporting 8.33 kHz spacing, now is a great time to introduce this to VATSIM.”– VATSIM Discord
VATSIM states that over the last few months, a network audit showed that the 8.33 kHz frequency spacing change will impact fewer than 5% of flights. This means that the vast majority of the estimated 110,000 active pilots on the network will not be affected as nearly all modern simulators and add-ons natively support 8.33 kHz via the aircraft radio panel. VATSIM’s voice system, Audio for VATSIM, has long had the capability to support 8.33 kHz but was limited by SimConnect for FS9, FSX, and P3D. However, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, X-Plane 11, and X-Plane 12 do offer native 8.33 kHz compatibility, though users may need to change their avionics setup.
Older simulators such as Microsoft Flight Simulator FS9, FSX, and Lockheed Martin Prepar3D version 4 and prior, lack native compatibility with 8.33 kHz frequency spacing. This will preclude legacy versions of popular add-ons such as PMDG aircraft for FSX & P3D, QualityWings 787, and Majestic Software’s MJC8-Q400 from being able to directly set the desired 8.33 kHz frequency from the in-game radio panel. However, during the trial, legacy add-on users can tune frequencies that end in x05, x10, x15, x30, x35, x40, x55, x60, x65, x80, x85, and x90 using the command .com1 XXX.XXX or by selecting the frequency through the online ATC List within the pilot client. Add-on developers may also update their products to accommodate in-game tuning capability if the trial is a success.
“VATSIM invites any developer to update their products for use with the expanded frequency range to allow their customers continued full immersion on the network”– Niels Voogd, VATSIM Outreach and Partnership Manager
Stay “tuned” to FSElite for details on when and if VATSIM determines the feasibility of adopting 8.33 kHz frequency spacing.