An Oceanic Data Link (ODL) service will be provided by Rockwell Collins to enable real-time data communications between ATC and pilots in a seven-year contract awarded by the FAA this week.
The ARINC data link service will be established in the FAA control centres in New York, Oakland and Anchorage under the contract, which will enable the air traffic control centres to conduct standard procedures on Future Air Navigation System (FANS) equipped aircraft. FAA aircraft tracking will be made possible while out of radar range.
Rockwell Collins currently works in conjunction with the FAA for the Next Generation Air Transport System (NextGen) initiative, providing voice and domestic data link.
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.
L2 Consulting Services has announced that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has issued Validation Supplemental Type Certification for the installation of Iridium Satellite Communications Systems on 737 aircraft last month.
This follows the original FAA certificate for Rockwell Collins’ IRT-2120 Iridium SATCOM system and ICG NxtLink ICS-220A, both providing the flight crew with dedicated data link channels to support ACARS, CPDLC, an exclusive global voice channel and FANS messaging.
L2 are avionics engineering, installation and integration providers and have specialised in this area of the industry since 1997, with the integration of digital avionics systems into analog aircraft. The company currently hold existing Iridium certifications for B747, B757 and B767 aircraft and handle the STC regulatory process with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
L2 Vice President of Operations, Dean Rudolph said, “We are delighted to have received the CAAC validation of our STC and are now able to offer our customers in China a fully certified Iridium Communications solution on the B737NG series aircraft.”
Aviation maintenance providers, Jet Aviation Dubai announced the completion of its first CPDLC, data link upgrade and ADS-B Out installation on a Gulfstream G550 this week for a regional client.
Data link upgrades to avionics offer improvements to communications between controllers and pilots and can add a level of visibility to long-haul communications.
The director of Safety & Maintenance at Jet Aviation Dubai, Wajahat Ali Khan said, “This particular upgrade was technologically challenged and logistically complicated. I am very pleased to note that our team of qualified technicians worked tirelessly to re-deliver the aircraft on schedule.”
Other leading providers of CPDLC and HF data link communications solutions, such as ARINC, acquired last year by the aeronautics giant, Rockwell Collins, have been delivering data link solutions and upgrades for more than a decade. ARINC were one of the very first providers of data link, pioneering ACARS communications which today has become the industry-standard for aircraft messaging. With global coverage, data link upgrades are increasingly in demand.
Many modern aircraft are now manufactured with HF Data Link capabilities as an option and the airlines specifications for the inclusion of the Data Link upgrade are growing at a rate of almost 20% every year.
A demonstration project of Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) launched under the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) initiative has been completed this week across UK and Italian airspace with commercial flights operated by AirFrance, EasyJet and Scandinavian Airlines.
CPDLC will help to reduce pilot workload and improve safety by automating many routine cockpit tasks, in turn increasing air traffic management capacity in overcrowded airways. The system will supplement voice communications and will reduce communication errors, bridging language barriers and other challenges.
The project was completed over 95 flights and operated with a team of 30 air traffic controllers and resulted in initial findings that show involved parties are ‘increasingly confident about the use of data link communications (CPDLC) in most operational conditions where radio telephony messages can be replaced.’
In the US, under the FAA’s NextGen program, similar trials are taking place to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of air traffic controllers being given the ability to send flight procedural information and revised clearance messages via CPDLC directly to the aircraft avionics systems.
The SESAR Joint Undertaking initiative (SESAR JU) plan to deliver the final results of all trials in July, ahead of the mandatory changes early next year.