A badly organised frequency spacing trial


At the very best this trial has been very poorly implemented; it has not been promoted at all!
I only became aware of the change about a week ago during conversation with a third-party who described it as being something that VATSIM were considering for Germany.
I came fowl of the change yesterday during a flight into EGSS. The approach frequency was on the 25Khz band and therefore not a problem. However, when I was handed over to tower at short final on the ILS, which I had only just acquired I found that I was not able to communicate. Fortunately the TWR controller was switched on and gave me a text clearance, albeit a little late. By this time I found myself slightly high as the a/c had not acquired the glide-slope due to my being unnecessarily distracted by the comms problem. I landed OK but long, coming to a stopping ~500’ from the end.
On vacating the runway I tried to switch to GND but, again, was not able to tune the frequency. By this time I was quite angry that my flight, which otherwise went well, had been ruined by VATSIM.
Both the GND controller and subsequently a Supervisor (BC_SUP) were completely unable to understand that having to manually tune a comms box through vPilot was not easy to do when one is trying to land a fast and heavy airliner on short final. They were also unable to understand that the first duty of a pilot when in a difficult situation is to fly the aeroplane.
This change in frequency spacing is described by VATSIM, for the time being, as a trial. Why then is there no clearly promoted means of providing feedback? Surely a trial of such an important change like this should include feedback from pilots as well as VATSIM controllers?
Is it the intention of VATSIM therefore to push this through regardless of any feedback after what appears to be an arbitrary trial period (“3 months likely shorter”)?


I can’t speak to why you were not aware of the trial that was approved and announced publicly a while ago, back in August (VATSIM 8.33 kHz Frequencies Trial as an example of one of the many communications that went out), and why you did not as such prepare, but to answer at least one of your questions, based on hearing no legitimate opposition, there is a vote very-much currently underway by the full Board of Governors to accept the new spacing as a permanent measure on VATSIM. Perhaps, for whatever reason, it was “poorly implemented” and “not promoted”, but our data shows that over 82,000 members have successfully figured out how to navigate the new frequency options based on our community’s communications. I’m not sure why you didn’t see the communications, but my hope is, as your temper settles down, you’ll figure out, as have over 82,000 others in our community, how to properly adapt. The feedback from the trial has thus far been overwhelmingly positive, with very few pilots that were either unaware of the trial unable or surprised at having to use their pilot client to change frequencies, but the vast majority of pilots and controllers excitedly supporting the permanent adoption of the 8.33kHz spacing on VATSIM.

Again, after your temper has subsided, it’s my fervent hope that you’ll agree that this is in the best interest of our nearly 200,000 active members, and will be properly prepared for your next flight.

I wish you all the best for wonderful flights in the future.


Firstly Mr Desfosse, as a representative of the VATSIM board I am surprised that you feel compelled to resort to insults rather than serious factual and constructive debate. Your elevated position within VATSIM endows upon you a certain responsibility to abide by clause A1, amongst all others, of the VATSIM rules and regulations!
The fact that the frequency spacing change is your pet project does not absolve you from being courteous and respectful to others who may question its implementation or oppose it.
You suggest that there has no legitimate opposition to the change and as a result it is going to debate amongst “The Board of Governors”. That confirms my point precisely… you have not provided for any feedback so it puzzles me how you can claim that this project is widely accepted!
Furthermore, you are clearly wrong to suggest that this has been widely promoted! Each and everyone of the pilots that I flew with yesterday were caught by surprise when they were not able to change frequencies; to the point where two the three in my group chose to disconnect from VATSIM when presented with the issue while on final and reconnected for our post flight photo shoot after arriving at the gate. It has also true that we feel discouraged from flying in Europe on VATSIM in the future. We are currently drawing to an end of our European Tour and once that is done there is a wider world for us to enjoy! As you say “all the best for wonderful flights in the future”.
You speak of 82000 members but VATSIM membership is surely more than that globally so I can take it from that, therefore, that the data that you have obtained from your ‘research’ and feedback was all garnered from VATSIM Europe membership rather than from the wider global community.


VATSIM, like myself and many others that I believe use VATSIM, does aspire to realism in our hobby, unfortunately however, changing the spacing of station frequencies is an unnecessary step too far.
There is absolutely NO practical justification for this change. Most airports that we fly to on VATSIM are unmanned and most will unlikely even have any local control. Whatever control there will be at these airports will be top down, mostly from a Center Controller. There is no requirement therefore for all the frequency channels that are found in the real world. As a result this policy of change is completely unnecessary and is unpopular. It also means further expense for pilots in so much as they will feel compelled to upgrade their simulators and their aircraft if this goes ahead.
If VATSIM is truly committed to the network and the interests of all those that use it it will decide against permanently implementing this change.

For the record, I hope (remote from all indications) that my views on this change, as I have expressed here, will be given serious consideration by the Board of Governors. If necessary the trial needs to be extended to AT LEAST 3 months and it needs to be promoted to ALL users so that they can freely and openly express their views, whether for or against the change.


I’m sorry that you feel you haven’t been informed properly on the 8.33kHz spacing before flying into EGSS. However, I disagree with you on the need for implementing this in Europe. One can argue that the use of the real life frequencies is not needed on VATSIM - as you apparently do. But for us in Europe the need for more frequencies is real. Sitting on a controller position in Denmark and recieve text messages for flights in Hungary because for similar frequencies are in use is rather annoying and is not just a question on setting the range correctly. The rather small geographical area with many major airports and many smaller ones differs widely from what you find in the US. While not every station is manned at all times it might not be a problem on a day-to-day basis, but WHEN it happens it really IS a problem.
So it is NOT just a question on implementing RW frequencies, but also to solve a real problem we as controllers encounter.
Implementing RW frequencies is a plus to pilots, as the frequency can then just be red off the charts instead of having to resolve to the controllers list on vPilot or whatever you use. But it is offcause a problem for those pilots, who are unable to tune their radios due to old simulators (or inadequate implementation from the addon-developers). That’s why a test period is needed and to be welcomed as to get experience from the use, which can be passed on to the software developers.



I agree with Mikes comments and can add another that affects my circumstance. I have a full home built sim that cost a large sum of money. Included in this build are 2xComms radios and 2xAudio panels costing approximately A$900 - this frequency ‘trial’ (tone suggests it will be implemented) makes this equipment redundant. It’s all very well asking ‘pilots’ to use the .com prompt in Vpilot however, it removes the very reason l purchased these items - immersion.
It also seems to me that the Board have lost sight of the most common phrases in aviation ‘Aviate, Navigate, Communicate’ in applying the Comms as the primary concern.
This change, unless the hardware can be updated to utilise the .833 band, will result in me removing Europe as a preferred Vatsim destination.
As a side note, my 2D panel does not incorporate the .833 band.

And why not reach out to the company that made your hardware and see if they can implement a firmware/software update that would allow for the 8.33 spacing, iso keep on pushing down the needs of thousands of users in Europe?


Hello Raul,

Europe is only a small part of the greater world and by accounts it is only Europe that is proposing (enforcing) this change!


Correct, because we desperately need it.

Hey Mike,

After reading everything above I do agree with your frustration that VATEU is but one part of VATSIM. Us here in VATUSA are in the process of implementing a new and up to date controller client. There are many people resistant to the change because of comfort level. Same could be said for every argument against why a division changes something on VATSIM. We all like to feel comfortable in what we already know and are resistant to change. However at the same time there is a reason things on the network progress. If we want to simulate controlling and flying on the network we need to adapt and progress. If we didn’t we would all still be using FS9 for flying and text only for controlling.

There are new simulators out and new controller clients. Both sides of the radio need to adapt. I understand it is a little more work as a pilot to comply with the the 8.33 kHZ requirement, but do you not when flying pre-set the next frequency you going to be talking to by looking at your pilot client? If you change the frequency in your airplane or pilot client there is no difference.

Like Raul said if you are using an addon for your simulator it might be best to reach out to them to see if they can update the aircraft to accept 8.33. Theres growing pains for all of us as the network grows to meet current things.


I, too, use a hardware cockpit using PROSIM. My hardware for the com radio is a Flightdeck Solution MCOM. Prosim can use 8.33kHz spacing and so should the MCOM unit. My problem is that my old prosim 2.41 doesn’t fully implement 8.33kHz ( a few freq doesn’t work), but that is an upgrade issue on the software, not the hardware, and an upgade that is up to me to implement. If you’re using OpenCockpits units, the hardware might need an update, which is possible, but tricky, if you need to ship them to the manufacturer.
But this is not the same as saying that the hole cockpit is a piece of trash, if VATSIM implements the 8.33kHz spacing. Funding our hobby is always an issue, wheather is it software or hardware. The World moves on - and we can’t always let old (sometimes even VERY old) software take new member as hostage. If FS9 can’t be made compatible with 8.33kHz spacing, then perhaps it’s time to move on to a newer sim. Same goes for addons (at some day in the future even PMDG will have to implement this - Europe is too large a marketsplace to neglect).
As I mentioned in my previous post, there are frequencies problem in Europe, which needs to be adressed (too many stations, too close to each other that interfere). Saying VATSIM souldn’t try to solve such issues here in Europe just because you usually fly in the US (or other parts of the World, which aren’t affected by interference problems) or you have a hardware problem, is silly. We all need to move on. And if that means you don’t fly in Europe - well, that’s your loss.

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It is wrong of you to speak of FS9 in support of your argument, which I agree is outdated. Having said that, however, there are many people still using it.

I have P3Dv4.5 which is a fairly popular and relatively recent Lockheed addition to the simulator world and which I only updated to about 18 months ago so being told that I need to upgrade my simulator again, and possibly my aircraft, in order to satisfy a few in VATSIM is arrogant and lacks empathy as upgrading for most of use means significant financial outlays. It might be easy for people on a regular income but there are a lot out here in the real world who live on fixed income pensions and might not, therefore, be able to afford such outlays!
Are you and VATSIM suggesting, therefore, that they should be excluded from the network?

All I say is that you are neglecting the problems we have regarding lack of frequencies. It is a bigger problem than you think in Europe. That’s why testing a solution is a nessessity. Bashing VATSIM for this really makes me angry. The makers of simulators and addons need to have a look at what’s going on in the real world, because some day it’ll be the reallity also on VATSIM. The change in the real world is more or less 15 years old. Implementation should’t be THAT hard. Nevertheless, as noone really pushed on for making it happen, nothing did happen. And now, it is a problem for controllers in Europe because of the lack of frequencies.
BTW I live on a fixed pension, so there is a lot of choices I have to make to make my economy work. And I hope I will be able to have VATSIM as my hobby many years into the future. But I hope that VATSIM keep being developed, so that future generations of flightsimmers can enjoy this hobby. Staying with old simulators is not the way to do it. And that means that you and I need to find the finances somehow.


Mike, I re-read my response to you and agree that it could come across as “snarky”. While I didn’t intend that in my original writing, I do apologize to you and anyone else who didn’t appreciate the tone. Was not meant to be insulting, and I do apologize.

I was putting out some data. While we agree that absolute realism may not be truly needed on the network, we do attempt to simulate the real world as best as possible. During our discussions on whether to implement the trial, it was explained to the BoG that 8.33kHz spacing is only utilized in Europe, hence why the trial has been conducted in Europe, and why I used numbers applicable to European membership and folks that fly in Europe. Certainly not meant to be a slight to the rest of the world. That said, roughly half of VATSIM’s membership is from Europe, so while the network doesn’t make decisions based solely on what is wanted/needed in Europe, it is indeed an important consideration.

We’ve received feedback through multiple means; e.g., by pilots on the Community Discord, by pilots through ATC feedback, by ATC through their chain of command, etc. Finally, the trial was publicized here on the forums, on our Community Discord (and re-broadcast via dozens, likely even hundreds of other communities’ Discord servers), and through our social media channels. That said, although we tried to get the word out, nothing is perfect and I do honestly appreciate the feedback that you and your friends did not get the word, so we can try to learn from that feedback. Finally, I am sorry that your hardware does not natively support 8.33kHz spacing, and hope that, while not ideal, the software-based workaround will suffice until such time that your hardware provider makes updates to adequately support 8.33kHz spacing.

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Hello Don,

Apology accepted, thank you.

You seem to suggest that all your research of pitots has been on discord so for people like me who are not connected to discord, or any other social media output, we are left out of the loop.
I understand that it is not easy for a charity to get out to all interested parties but there is a very simple, easy and efficient solution:
VATSIM has broadcast an appeal for funding for a long time on pilot clients like vPilot such that the message is read each time that a pilot connects onto the network. Why did VATSIM not publicise this frequency issue by that same means? We would ALL have been informed had that been the case and we could have commented and given feedback if we wished.
As it is the group that I was flying with on Wednesday were completely uninformed and caught off guard. Had we been flying real world in a similar situation a catastrophe would likely have happened! Real world pilots have the advantage of up-to-date NOTAMS. That is not the case with flying in the virtual world so messengers need to be innovative. We cannot be expected to troll the various websites on the off chance that there might be a snippet of information relevant to our particular flight.


In the real world you wouldn’t be flying without an 8.33kHz capable radio if you want to go down that route…

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Hello Torben,

You say in your earlier post that the main issue with the current frequency spacing affects only a few controllers on a few occasions.

That to me, and many other pilots I would think, does not justify the implementation of a draconian change to frequency spacing that adversely affects many thousands of pilots ALL of the time, and has the potential of costing several of them a significant and unnecessary financial outlay!

Doing something about the controller’s software as Chris Raabe has spoken about in his post would possibly be the fairer and better solution to your problems!


As a facility engineer, let me tell you: this is not a problem that “affects only a few controllers on a few occasions”. This was a regular occurrence with 25kHz spacing and resulted in a lot of workload, and regular frequency changes. With 8.33kHz, we can now use the correct real world frequencies virtually everywhere (exceptions are non-civilian frequencies and ATISes that are placed on VORs, but now we at least have frequencies available to divert to) without any conflicts. It also allows us to add currently missing stations (as I already alluded to: military stations and ATISes on VORs, but also some control positions that we thus far lacked available frequencies for, as well as information positions at uncontrolled airfields). Now, while you are certainly correct that we don’t need all frequencies they have IRL, having most positions available is very valuable as it allows controllers to staff them when they feel like it and we don’t have to regularly add some of them to make certain events possible, etc.

As has been pointed out earlier in this thread, 8.33kHz spacing has been an aviation standard for close to two decades now. Most simulators and addons used by people on the network today support. Yet, VATSIM has repeatedly denied approval for implementation on the network. But a few months ago, a study was conducted on the amount of users likely impacted by such a change and the value was constantly below 5%, so it most certainly doesn’t affect “many thousands of pilots ALL the time”. Because of this, it’s also not a “draconian change”. Sure, for the very small percentage of users among the already small 5% part that have certain hardware or simulators, this might necessitate some changes, but quite frankly, if we always waited for 100% of users to be unaffected by changes, we could shut down the network - it’s not sustainable.
You say you are using P3Dv5 - this simulator does support 8.33kHz spacing. What doesn’t support it, are some addon aircraft (most notably PMDG). So if it’s an addon problem, go bug the developer why they haven’t implemented a longstanding aviation standard - many have already done so in response to the trial with apparently no issues. You also said you are using hardware com panels. We have heard similar complaints from people with home cockpits (or simply radio panels as part of their hardware) in the VATGER community. They have, however, quickly figured out workarounds by rewriting their software or configuring their hardware through software like spad.next (having a home cockpit, I would assume you have such a software anyways).
And if all else fails, Europe is - after all - not the only place you can fly at on the network.

Controller clients can’t do anything about the problem at hand. If anything, AfV would have to be changed, but I doubt that it could help with the problem at hand: the number of frequencies.
What Chris was referring to was that there is a new controller client to be released for VATUSA controllers that will replace all currently existing ones, which means that all controllers over there need to adjust to it, not that it does anything about frequencies.

Hi Mike
To be honest I think you are exagering the problem. Many of the pilots on VATSIM today are using 8.33kHz radioes (either software or hardware) as these are build into the newer simulators. I know PMDG doesn’t support this, but I’m sure in time they’ll build it into their comming versions. Other addon developers allready do support 8.kHz radios. So it it only a matter of time. Speaking on financials - a new flight sim like MSFS2020 costs $60, that’ll likely not break any budget. Agreed, if you come from an older setup, the computer might not be sufficient to run MSFS, so you’ll have to update. But computers do have an endtime - my current secondary computer runs win7. And many programs can’t be run on it any more. That’s a fact of life you’ll have to deal with anyway - not just because of implementation of 8.33kHz spacing on VATSIM.
What I like with VATSIM is also the realism and it’s a pain to have to use arbitrary frequencies on VATSIM rather than the ones used IRL. Having to look at vPilot for the correct freq rather than at the charts irritates me. Yes, it works, but… And setting the radio freq with a dot command in vPilots also works - it doable, but I agree with you, it is easier to tune the radios by hand. And to be fair - Chris’ post is not against 8.33kHz spacing, so I think you’re misreading him.


Hello David,
I did not say that I use P3D5!
I said that I use P3Dv4.5 which is NOT compatible with 8.33Khz.
Everybody at VATSIM compares this with real world aviation but they only do so where it suits their argument. When the aviation industry made ModeC transponders compulsory for all aircraft, including GA, it gave everybody plenty of notice and gave a considerable lead in time before complete implementation. In fact a lot of private aircraft owners in the UK at least were given some financial assistance in order to upgrade their equipment. VATSIM, however, makes an announcement to a select few, announces a 3 month trial but then effectively cancels it, and then implements its changes regardless of opposing feedback that circumvents the barriers that made that difficult. VATSIM gave NO consultation time in fact it appears to have avoided consultation completely!
Had it not been for yesterday’s incidents at EGSS this discussion would never have happened and the changes would have been implemented without most people being aware of them until they suddenly encounter the same problems we encountered, but after full roll-out!