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Communications Requirements in Oceanic Airspace Delegated to the FAA for Provision of Air Traffic Services

  1. The United States Aeronautical Information Publication (AIP), (section ENR 7.1, paragraph 6) describes satellite voice (SatVoice) communications services available in Anchorage, New York and Oakland oceanic control areas (OCAs), along with the requirements for use of those services. The AIP currently allows use of suitably installed and operated SatVoice to communicate with New York and San Francisco Radio only “when unable to communicate on HF” (High Frequency) radio. Some questions have arisen as to what constitutes being “unable” to communicate on HF.
  2. Anchorage, New York and Oakland OCAs are “high seas” (international) airspace (for U.S. operators, 14 CFR § 91.703 refers). Therefore, all operations therein must comply with ICAO Annex 2 (Rules of the Air), which requires that aircraft “maintain continuous air-ground voice communication watch on the appropriate communication channel…” (Paragraph This means that a long-range communication system (LRCS) is required whenever operations will exceed the range of VHF voice communications between aircraft and air traffic control. Additionally, regulations issued by the State of Registry/ State of the Operator may stipulate how many LRCS are required. Examples of such regulations, for U.S. operators, include 14 CFR §§ 91.511, 121.351, 125.203 and 135.165.
  3. A flight crew is considered to be “unable to communicate on HF” during poor HF propagation conditions (commonly referred to as “HF Blackouts”), or if there is an inflight HF radio failure. In those cases, that flight crew can use AIP-compliant SatVoice equipment and procedures to continue the flight to destination. A one-time return flight through Anchorage, New York and Oakland OCAs, to obtain maintenance on the HF radios, would also be acceptable under these circumstances, and would meet the criteria for use of SatVoice with New York and San Francisco Radio as per the AIP. Operators must still comply with applicable regulations on how many LRCS are required, as well as with applicable Minimum Equipment List (MEL) provisos.
  4. When first establishing communications with New York or San Francisco Radio via SatVoice, the flight crew should request a “callback check.” Such a check will help ensure Radio can contact the crew during the period of SatVoice use. The table below illustrates a sample callback check. Additionally, in the event the operator has indicated capability for SatVoice via both Iridium and Inmarsat (by listing codes M1 and M3 in Item 10 of the ATC flight plan), the flight crew should inform the Radio operator of the service to use for communicating with the aircraft.

    Sample Transcript of SatVoice Callback Check

    SatVoice call from the air:

    “New York RADIO, Airline 123, request SatVoice callback check.”
    For aircraft equipped with both Inmarsat and Iridium:
    “… on Inmarsat/Iridium (as applicable)

    Answer from the ground:

    “Airline 123, copy, terminating call, will call you right back”

    New SatVoice call from ground:

    Airline 123, New York Radio with your SatVoice callback, how do you read?”

    SatVoice answer from the air:

    Loud and clear, SatVoice callback check good, good day!”

  5. FAA point of contact: Aviation Safety Inspector Kevin C. Kelley, Flight Technologies and Procedures Division, 202-267-8854,

(Flight Operations Group, Flight Technologies and Procedures Division, Flight Standards Service, 7/18/2019)

D O T Triskelion

U.S. Department of Transportation

Federal Aviation Administration

800 Independence Avenue, SW

Washington, DC 20591

(866) TELL-FAA | (866) 835-5322