Aircraft licences - Guidelines | ACMA

Aircraft licences - Guidelines

What is an aircraft licence?

An aircraft licence is issued to authorise radiocommunications equipment operating on board:

  • aircraft; or
  • recreational aircraft (such as ultralights, trikes, hang gliders, paragliders, gyrocopters, gliders, sailplanes - and other like craft, and balloons)

but only when the equipment is fixed to the aircraft and is used only on board the aircraft.

The aircraft licence is only issued to authorise the operation of aircraft aeronautical equipment other than that authorised under the Radiocommunications (Aircraft and Aeronautical Mobile Stations) Class Licence 2016.

The aircraft licence type is defined in the Radiocommunications (Interpretation) Determination 2015.

Licensing option

The current licensing option available under this category is the aircraft assigned.  Under this licensing option, an aircraft licence authorising an aircraft assigned station will be issued. Frequency assignments will be printed on the licence.

Licence conditions

The operation of radiocommunications equipment authorised by an aircraft licence is subject to:

  • conditions specified in the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (the Act), including an obligation to comply with the Act;
  • a condition that any radiocommunications device operated under the licence must comply with all the standards applicable to it;
  • conditions specified in any determinations made by the ACMA under paragraph 107(1)(f) of the Act
  • conditions specified in the licence; and
  • any further conditions imposed by the ACMA under section 111 of the Act.

Generally, conditions are applied to licences to enable users to communicate effectively with a minimum of interference. All conditions relating to a licence must be complied with.

In addition to the above conditions, other requirements under legislation administered by Airservices Australia or the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, may apply in relation to the operation of an aircraft station.

Licence conditions determinations

The ACMA may determine, by written instrument, conditions relating to apparatus licences. These conditions are known as Licence Conditions Determinations (LCDs).

The Radiocommunications Licence Condition (Apparatus Licence) Determination 2015 contains conditions of licence that are common to all apparatus licences.

The Radiocommunications Licence Conditions (Aircraft Licence) Determination 2011 (No. 1) contains conditions of licence that apply to all aircraft licences. These conditions include the type of communications permitted, with whom the operator is permitted to communicate and station identification.

Advisory Notes are automatically attached to licences where a LCD is in force. The notes will advise of the applicable LCD. Advisory Notes provide information that may be of interest to a licensee.

The licence conditions imposed through the relevant LCD may change from time to time. Licensees should ensure that they have informed themselves of the current conditions imposed by the ACMA.

Special conditions

Any other conditions of operation which apply to an individual licence but are not included in the LCD, will be printed on the licence under the heading 'Special Conditions'.

An accredited person may ask the ACMA to impose one or more special conditions on the licence according to the circumstances in which the frequency assignments for the licence are made.


The licensee of an aircraft station must use either a form of identification that clearly identifies the station, or a callsign allocated by the ACMA at the start of each transmission or series of transmissions.

Callsigns are a unique series of letters and/or numbers allocated to a radiocommunications user to identify a station. Callsigns must be used for all on-air communications including testing. Callsigns allocated to aircraft stations conform with International Telecommunication Union Radio Regulations (see Table 1 for callsign construction).

Table 1 - Aircraft Callsign Template

VHaaa Aircraft callsign template (example of typical callsign VHABC)

alpha character A-Z that represents an aircraft's registration marking (see following paragraph).

Aircraft stations should employ, as a callsign, their registration marking or an abbreviation of such letters and company titles, in accordance with procedures outlined in the Flight Radio Operator's Manual or aeronautical information papers issued by Airservices Australia. The aircraft licence issued by the ACMA will reflect the Airservices Australia callsign.

Other issues

The following matters may be applicable to frequency assignments for aircraft licences:

Participation in other services

Aircraft usage of other radiocommunications services such as fixed, land mobile, maritime mobile and outpost radio is no longer covered under an aircraft licence. If aircraft stations wish to use other than aeronautical or aeronautical-mobile satellite frequencies, a separate licence for the required service is needed.  For example, if an aircraft needs to operate on outpost radio then, in addition to the required aircraft licence (or licences), a separate outpost licence is required.

Participation by aircraft in land mobile services however, is covered under the particular land mobile licence issued to the provider of the service. In this case, an aircraft station is deemed to be a mobile participating as part of a land mobile licensee's service. Authorisation is required from the service provider to participate in the particular land mobile service unless the user of the aircraft station is also the land mobile licensee.

The use of INMARSAT satellite frequencies is not authorised under an aircraft licence. This operation is authorised under the Radiocommunications (Communication with Space Object) Class Licence  2015.

Applying for an apparatus licence

Applications for an apparatus licence may be made to Radiocommunications Licensing and Assignments Section, ACMA, Canberra. Applicants should complete the appropriate ACMA spectrum form. If frequency assignments are required with this licence, the frequency coordination work may be performed either by ACMA or an accredited person.

If the work is to be done by the ACMA a form Application for Additional Station Information (R077) should also be submitted with the licence application.

Alternatively if you wish to use the services of an accredited person you should refer to the List of Accredited Persons for contact details. An accredited person will issue you with a frequency assignment certificate and this should be submitted with the licence application to the ACMA. Accredited persons are not employed by the ACMA, nor is the ACMA responsible for the work of accredited persons.

More information about Accreditation can be found on the ACMA website.


Licence fees are set having regard to spectrum location, geographical location, amount of spectrum occupied and coverage area authorised by the licence.  Detailed information about fees is provided in the Apparatus Licence Fee Schedule.

Licence fee exemptions and concessions

Individuals and organisations may be eligible for an exemption or concession from the payment of licence fees. For further information see Licence Fee Exemptions and Concessions.

Transfers of apparatus licences

Apparatus licences may be transferred. Applicants wishing to transfer an apparatus licence should complete and submit to the ACMA, the form Application for Transfer of Apparatus Licence(s) (R060). The transfer form must be signed by both the transferer and the transferee. Applicants are required to pay a transfer charge to cover the ACMA's administrative expenses.

There are a number of limitations on the transfer of apparatus licences. The Radiocommunications (Limitation of Authorisation of Third Party Users and Transfer of Apparatus Licences) Determination 2015 specifies these limitations.

A device authorised by the transferred licence is still required to operate under the same technical conditions (including transmission site) as specified on the original licence.

Third party operation

Licensees may authorise, by written instrument, other persons to operate radiocommunications devices under the apparatus licences. These are known as third party authorisations.

There are a number of limitations on third party authorisations. The Radiocommunications (Limitation of Authorisation of Third Party Users and Transfer of apparatus Licences) Determination 2015 specifies these limitations.

A person authorised to use a radiocommunications device under a third party authorisation is subject to all of the conditions applicable to that device under the licence.

Further information

If you have any additional queries relating to this, or any, licence type, please contact the Radiocommunications Licensing Assignments Section.

If you have any queries relating to the operation of aircraft under Australian aviation legislation please contact Airservices Australia or the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

Last updated: 17 December 2012