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More about aircraft data link CPDLC | Business Aviation BlogAs a part of the NextGen initiative, the text messaging capabilities of aircraft data link – CPLDC (Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications) – are being hailed as the way forward in the bid to eradicate the use of voice communications for the transmission of critical aircraft communications such as weather data, position reporting and other ATC operational messages.

Under the new initiative, pilots will be able to ‘accept’ messaging over text, without the need to make a verbal or data-based response.

The NextGen initiative is designed to improve aircraft communications with the simplification of messaging, avoiding misinterpretation, and standardising messaging protocols on the flight deck.

Providers of Reliable Aviation Messaging SystemsA recent report following the AirAsia tragedy of Flight QZ8501 revealed that officials did not pick up weather reports in person, which has been hailed as a ‘missed opportunity’ by experts.

This is not to say that AirAsia violated any aviation policies, but it has highlighted an issue that meteorologists and airline officials could have detailed potentially dangerous weather conditions in real-time.

If flight operations personnel typically receive weather reporting updates, then there is time for essential decision-making to take place, including re-routing if necessary. According to CNN, the occurrence of AirAsia flight operations staff not directly collecting weather documents is not uncommon, and weather updates are generally received by email, and not in person.

Although, according to AirAsia, there is no change in the method of receiving copies of weather information, the airline has made a change in how the information is processed by its personnel.

The tragic events of the crash are still being investigated and search efforts have been hampered by severe weather and storm conditions. Of the 162 people on board the aircraft when it downed in the Java Sea, 39 have been recovered and 16 officially identified.

Weather conditions are blamed for a high percentage of aircraft accidents and it is critical that real-time weather reporting is an advantage for airlines and operators for flight planning and enhanced decision-making. Industry messaging and support services providers realise the importance of reliable, timely delivery of aviation messaging in order to maximise efficiency throughout aircraft operations and allowing real-time decision making with the implementation of flight deck weather.

Inflight Connectivity Solutions for Business AircraftA two-year demonstration project to test new approach and landing technology is being led by NetJets Europe for the Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research program.

The project, part-financed by the SESAR joint undertaking, incorporates 15 organisations who will take part in over 200 flight demonstrations at six European airports, including approaches to land (AAL) and 14 other projects throughout 2016 to highlight the benefits of the SESAR initiative.

Business aircraft utilisation of synthetic and enhanced vision for flights in inclement weather at small, regional airports will be examined during the projects, in addition to approach procedures for access to large hubs.

A statement issued by the SESAR joint undertaking said, “The aim of the project is to pave the way for the uptake of these technologies, which are needed to overcome the limitations of the current ILS equipment, which is costly to install and maintain, and which can only guide straightforward approaches.”

Business aviation communications services providers are helping to pave the way for the SES initiative, as operators aim to complete the retrofit upgrades in preparation to fulfil mandatory requirements for compliance.

A report has been submitted to IATA by the Aircraft Tracking Task Force (ATTF) this week, which will deliver its findings for consideration in the Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) development.

Airline Operational Messaging Solutions ProvidersAlthough the contents of the report are not yet public, Tony Tyler, CEO of IATA said that the report ‘recommends that airlines evaluate their current tracking capabilities against the performance criteria and close any gaps within a 12 month time frame.”

According to Mr Tyler, airlines will need to complete phases in order to achieve complete, worldwide aircraft tracking capability:

Short-term – make use of the current capabilities within their fleets and operational areas

Near-term – look at the business case for upgrading equipment to meet performance criteria

Parallel – explore the possibility of making tamper-proof systems with other industry stakeholders and manufacturers

The recommendations included in the report encompass many improvements, particularly within the communications systems, such as Controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) and ACARS to the space-based ADS-B, which, in the long-term is seen as the solution to seamless global aircraft tracking.

With mandatory equipage of these technologies fast approaching within European and Canadian airspace, new aircraft are already seeing these technologies coming as standard onboard installations.

For global tracking to become a certainty, technological capabilities must be installed and a ground-based ADS-B infrastructure is already in place.

“The public should be aware that there is no silver bullet solution on tracking,” said Tyler. “The industry is working to improve, but some issues such as tamper proofing, will take time to address and implement.”

Flight Deck Aviation Weather Data Solutions Today, Rockwell Collins unveiled their latest program that will give pilots, flight line maintenance and service repair technicians access to training solutions on mobile devices.

Amongst the training applications, and one that will be demonstrated this week in Orlando at the Interservice/Industry Training, Simulation and Education Conference, is the Rockwell Collins MultiScan ThreatTrackTM weather radar on a mobile tablet.

Also at the conference, Rockwell Collins will be introducing new capabilities that will allow subscription customers to view and download task-specific training and publications online.

LeAnn Ridgeway, vice-president and general manager of the Simulation and Training solutions for Rockwell Collins acknowledged that people use mobile devices for almost everything they do and said, “This new offering demonstrates our commitment to providing our customers with the right content in the right format, when and where they need it. Our new mobile training and publication offerings allow our customers to access, manage, and interact with information as they need it.”

Flight Deck Weather Solutions ProvidersAccording to major airlines, improved use of satellite and datalink communications technology has resulted in fewer incidences of turbulence and will continue to do so as more and more airlines utilise the high-performance tools at their fingertips.

Using the latest solutions for communications and navigation, airlines and traffic control have gained a greater understanding of flying conditions resulting in better flight planning and route optimisation to circumnavigate storms and minimise ground delays.

According to the Bureau of Transportation, 36% of all delays in 2013 were weather-related. This sounds like a pretty high occurrence, but when compared with the figures of 2003, they are down by a whopping 50%.

The threat of turbulence has been a challenge to airline operators, due to its invisibility on radar or satellite charts. Meteorologists at Kansas’s Aviation Weather Centre produce global weather forecasts every six hours and are now able to predict areas of turbulence using complex weather models and informative reports from pilots and sensors on some aircraft. This enables dispatchers to re-route aircraft if necessary to avoid these areas in advance and thus preventing the chaos that could ensue in busy airspace.

Using modern aviation technology it is hoped that the numbers of injuries as a result of turbulence, which has been estimated at an average of 36 people per year since 2002, according to the FAA, will be cut dramatically as reliable solutions are maintained.

Today, communications and navigation systems are streamlining not just efficient operation in the aircraft and on the ground, but are improving the entire flight experience for the passenger.

Other Providers of CPDLC SolutionsHungaroControl, Hungary’s Air Navigation Service Provider, have announced the modernisation of ATC with the implementation of Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) under the Single European Sky initiative.

CPDLC reduces the reliance upon voice communications and can streamline the messaging system between pilots and ground operations, improving efficiency and safety through reduction of pilot workload in the cockpit. CPDLC uses VDLM2 avionics to enable aircraft FMSs to receive data link communications regarding route clearances, weather information and other mission critical transmissions.

“HungaroControl is also in the vanguard of developing the CPDLC technology in Europe, and we are convinced that using data link communication may considerably improve flight safety and the capacity of air navigation service providers,” said Kornél Szepessy, chief executive of HungaroControl.

The CPDLC changes in Hungary will fall in line with the mandates for the Single European Sky by February 2015.

Flight Deck Weather DataThe recording and delivery of reliable aviation weather data is a critical component in maintaining safety in the skies. Adverse weather is one of the major contributors to aviation accidents on a global scale. But where does the data come from?

All over the world, weather stations are continuously monitoring and recording weather data consisting of temperatures to cloud cover and everything in between. These stations are called Automated Surface Observing Systems. Supercomputers take this data and use equations and calculations to enable weather forecasting.

The aviation weather data readings must be accurate and as fresh as possible to facilitate swift decision-making, flight planning and scheduling. The FAA issues coded messaging to airports, air traffic services and other authorities with numbered data to ascertain the source of the aviation weather data. Currently, there are 5,431 stations recognised by the FAA.

Timely delivery of aviation weather data is managed by ATS via airline data link, radio communications and often via satellite. Using ACARS, HFDL and CPDLC communications, aviation weather data keeps the safety of all aircraft as a priority. State-of-the-art technology in aviation today can mean that via type b messaging capability, aviation weather data can be accessed and delivered within a second.

Reliable & Efficient Real Time Weather Data SolutionsFor the first time, pilots in India will be able to gain online access to real-time weather data thanks to the Aviation Weather Observation System (AWOS) that was rolled out at Juhu Airport by IMD Mumbai.

This will now offer pilots a much-needed update to the system of weather warning, as the new system will continuously monitor weather conditions and, using the new air traffic control tower wifi, information on weather conditions will be relayed to pilots via hand-held PC’s.

The system will now give pilots real-time weather data regarding conditions of visibility, wind patterns, temperature, pressure and types of clouds in addition to advance weather warnings through a wireless capability of a range of 50 nautical miles.

The system will come into its own during monsoon season, during which visibility is most commonly affected. “It is a great leap in aviation meteorological forecasting,” said Deputy-Director General of meteorology, IMD Mumbai, K S Hosalikar, and said that the AAI had granted clearance for the installation and for the operation at the required frequency.

The rollout of the greatly enhanced system will be the first time that pilots in the area have had access to such up-to-date information as real-time weather data. It is expected that safety and operational productivity will show considerable improvements.

Flight Deck WeatherWeather Services International (WSI) has announced a new platform in its aim to further improve aircraft efficiency and safety. The new WSI Business Aviation Solution platform combines tools such as weather and flight information, operational data and airspace constraints, offering those tasked with making operational decisions a comprehensive view of this vital data.

WSI’s information systems are currently in use by over 130 commercial airlines on over 55,000 daily flights and have three main platforms; each targeted to fulfil distinct data requirements.

For pilots WSI Pilotbrief offers global weather information to assist in the optimisation of flight paths.  For schedulers and dispatchers WSI Fusion enables global flight tracking with real-time weather alerts, and WSI Hubcast enables ground crew to track flights and prepare for disruptive weather events.

Up-to-the-minute weather data is critical to flight safety, to facilitate swift decision-making on the flight deck and flight support teams on the ground. Other providers, such as ARINC Direct, bring radar data information outside the U.S. to business aviation operators; the only providers to do so.

Working as the professional solutions arm of The Weather Company, WSI is able to alert aviation to multiple hazards en-route, providing information on anything from turbulence, icing and convection right through to the less frequently encountered presence of volcanic ash.