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Data Link Upgrade InformationAviation 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.

Data Link Communications ProvidersSince the disappearance of Malaysia flight MH370, questions have been asked about the ability of radar to track aircraft worldwide. We know the technology exists, so how is it possible to ‘lose’ an aircraft to such an extent.

According to NZ Airways, who are responsible for the country’s 30 million square kilometres of airspace, a mere 60% of flights were tracked using satellite. Head of Auckland operations, Tim Boyle said, “It’s either radio or via what we call data link… through satellites.”
‘If data link updates were missed, and the aircraft remained out of radio contact, then Airways would have no way of knowing where the aircraft was’, he added.

The only route that has data link satellite mandates in place is within the North Atlantic route, according to Inmarsat senior vice-president of external affairs, Chris McLaughlin. It was an Inmarsat network that picked up data ‘handshakes’ from the missing Boeing 777 for up to five hours after it had left Malaysian airspace.

Black spots exist across the globe, for airlines that choose not to ‘opt into’ a contract for data-link systems. Neither Australia or New Zealand have any mandatory regulations to specify position reporting and it is thought that many aircraft are flying for long hours without reporting their positions.