The transition to Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC), according to the original timeline, should by now be well under way, with retrofit requirements under the Single European Sky initiative due by next month.
The European Commission has indicated that the deadline will now be moved to make sure that the industry is ready and that CPDLC avionics are reliable. Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) are implementing the infrastructure in advance of the mandates and the SES initiative is still a global reality.
Although the process is slow, and the costs for retrofitting high, the transition to CPDLC will save airlines and operators in the long-term and increase safety for the skies on a worldwide scale. It is unlikely that CPDLC will replace voice communications altogether, but datalink messaging needs to be implemented in order to cope with the upsurge in air traffic that is expected over the next two decades.
It is not just Europe that is attempting to embrace the CPDLC technology. Data link communications are being trialled in the U.S. under the NextGen program and in Canada, nationwide implementation of CPDLC was completed last summer.
Although phase two of the SES initiative was planned for next month, it seems likely that the plans, so far fraught with technical difficulties, training delays and the cost of retrofitting, may be moved as far as five years into the future.