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FAA Launches Data Comm in Salt Lake City

By Juliet Van Wagenen | August 15, 2016
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The FAA is launching Data Comm operations at Salt Lake City International Airport
The FAA is launching Data Comm operations at Salt Lake City International Airport. Photo: FAA

[Avionics Today 08-15-2016] The FAA has launched Data Communications (Data Comm) at Salt Lake City International Airport as part of the agency’s Next Generation Airspace Modernization initiative (NextGen). Data Comm aims to enhance communications between air traffic controllers and pilots by replacing some traditional voice communications with digital information exchanges.

According to the FAA, several U.S. carriers are taking advantage of the Data Comm capabilities at Salt Lake City, including Southwest, FedEx, UPS, American, Delta, and various general aviation operators.

Voice communication is labor intensive, time consuming and can lead to miscommunications known as “talk back, read back” errors. Data Comm, by contrast, aims to enable streamlined, two-way data exchanges between controllers and flight crews for clearances, instructions, advisories, flight crew requests and reports. The FAA began testing Data Comm capabilities and benefits in 2014 at Newark and Memphis with UPS, FedEx and United Airlines, as well as select international operators. The FAA started deploying Data Comm in air traffic control towers in the fall of 2015 and aims to have it in more than 50 towers by the end of 2016. The technology will be installed in air traffic control facilities that manage high altitude traffic beginning in 2019.

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