American and British Radio Facility Charts (RAFAC): What are RAFACs and what do they contain?

American and British Radio Facility Charts (RAFAC): What are RAFACs and what do they contain?

August 19, 2020

The Radio Facility Charts - RAFAC as issued by the US - Air Force for flight operations of the allied occupation forces as of May 1945 constitute air navigation radio facilities for the preparation and conduct of flights; limited to the facilities of the Army Air Communication Service - ACS/AACS as operated by the US Army Air Force - USAAF in the Europe, Africa & Middle East region. RAFACs are a never ending source of information on the then existing air navigation facilities at the end of WW II. Who still knows that during the Berlin Airlift GCA final approach radar units were used, which, were already in use in 1945; and where their location was? The RAFACs contain this information, and furthermore, which air navigation services units already provided air traffic services and especially so air traffic control service - ATC with flight movement control and separation. Hanau and (Paris) Orly Army Airways units belonged here.

Since civil flight operations had practically ceased till the end of the war, the US AACS units continued to provide these services also to civil flights until the mid 1950’ies, such as in the UK, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Marocco, Libya, Turkey and in West Germany until 1953.

For all geographic areas within the EAME region, in which telegraph and voice radio stations and radio navigatioin aids were operated, a not-to-scale chart with associated list on all operated radio facilities is shown. The lists contain the following details: station name and elevation, operator, airport control towers with call sign and frequencies, navigation aids with type, identification, Tx & Rec frequencies, emission, course and distance to the field and the magnetic course QDM, air/ground radio stations with call sign, Tx & Rec frequencies, emisison, weather message capability, remarks on operating times and alternate frequencies.

The charts show the various navigation aids in symbols, differentiated to non-directional radio beacons NDB, four course radio ranges RNG, VHF ranges VAR and direction finder stations with name, identification, frequency, as well as commercial radio stations and the hyperbolic GEE network. Furthermore, the different types of air routes are depicted, such as for visual (VFR) or instrument (IFR) flight with magnetic course, distance between reporting points, minimum safe altitude and cruising altitude, the location of airfields and approach aids like Eureka/Rebecca, GCA and ILS (SCS 51) installations. Additional information is shown on available direction finder stations of the air defense radar units, flight and radio operating rules, search & rescue units and procedures and the available air navigation units with air traffic control service (ATC).

Since the AACS of the USAAF also provided its services to civil air traffic within this region, its radio facilities practically became the cradle of civil air navigation of the ICAO Europe region and beyond. Radio Facility Charts were issued for the EAMA region as of 1960 in the form of Flight Information Publications - FLIP for the US-Army, Air Force and Navy. Separately issued handbooks containing standard instrument departure (SID) and standiard instrument approach procedures (SIA) complemented the series.

Also in Great Britain in the 1940’ies was reliable information on aeronautical radio aids and facilites for pilots, navigators and radio operators on aircraft available in for the form of RAFAC and pilots handbooks on SID and SIA procedures. This information was compiled by the aeronautical information service AIS. The contents of the RAFACs were then divided into geographical reagions, such as Europe with the letter A or Africa and the Middle East with letter B and issued in regular inervals.

The Digital Aviation Library offers interested aviation historians digital copies of various air navigation radio facility charts & lists of the Allied Expeditionary Forces - AEF and the US Forces of the years 1945, 1946, 1947, 1951, 1955 and 1961 in PDF format for purchase. Delivery in print is also possible on request. Orders are being requested to ANSA at Kreuzlingen (Switzerland) via e-mail under the address of info@atc-ansa.org.

Radio Facility Charts: Air Navigation Radio Facility Charts & Lists
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