Commercial, Embedded Avionics

ARINC’s VDL Network Marks 10 Years

By Tish Drake | November 22, 2010
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ARINC’s VDL Mode 2 digital air/ground communications network is marking 10 years of operations.

According to ARINC, the system begin in 1998 as a proof-of-concept on a few ground stations in the Pacific Northwest. The goal was to squeeze 10 times as much data into the narrow spectrum of ARINC’s VHF data link service. The first operational flight using ARINC’s new VDL Mode 2 communications network took place on Nov. 20, 2000. Between 2000 and 2003, ARINC deployed hundreds of U.S. VDL Mode 2 capable ground stations, providing coast-to-coast VDL Mode 2 enroute coverage for all major airline customers. It followed in 2003 by deploying VDL Mode 2 infrastructure in Europe and winning the first VDL Mode 2 contract from EUROCONTROL for Controller/Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC). The same year, ARINC partnered with Japan’s AVICOM to deliver the first VDL Mode 2 services for the Asia Pacific region.

Since that time, ARINC’s VDL Mode 2 network is used by more than 2,500 commercial aircraft, sending and receiving more than 8 million messages a month — a figure that is growing by 20 percent yearly. VDL Mode 2 use has grown so fast that ARINC said it is working with avionics and airframe manufacturers on new ways to increase capacity, utilizing and managing multiple VHF frequencies.

“In response to the initiative by EUROCONTROL and the FAA to harmonize their Air Traffic Control (ATC) systems, ARINC plans to continue to deploy additional VDL Mode 2 Ground Stations to support their future requirements,” said Ron Hawkins, ARINC vice president, Commercial Aviation Services.

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