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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.

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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.