[Avionics Magazine 12-12-2016] Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports are now equipped to manage flight operation using Data Communications (Data Comm). According to a recent FAA announcement, the administration has now deployed Data Comm at more than 50 Air Traffic Control (ATC) towers throughout the National Airspace System (NAS), including O’Hare and Midway.
FAA NextGen Data Communications air traffic control En Route simulators. Photo: FAA.
Data Comm will help reduce delays by making pilot-controller communications shorter and more accurate, which could help keep a plane in the departure line and on schedule, the FAA says. Inside the tower, controllers enter flight departure clearance instructions into a computer and push a button to electronically send the information to an aircraft’s flight deck. Flight crews view the information, press a button to confirm receipt, and press another button to enter the instructions into the aircraft’s flight management system. This benefit becomes even more pronounced during bad weather, when Data Comm enables equipped aircraft to take off before an approaching storm closes the departure window, while aircraft relying solely on voice communications remain stuck on the ground waiting for the storm to pass.
Data Comm is expected to save operators more than $10 billion over the 30-year life cycle of the program and save the FAA about $1 billion in future operating costs. To learn more about this innovative technological capability as well as what onboard avionics are required to perform controller to pilot data link communications, check out the in-depth article on Data Comm featured in our August issue