FAA resumes Data Comm testing

12 September 2017

Pilots and air traffic controllers are already benefiting from data communications services

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has told Jane’s it will restart testing new data communications services between pilots and air traffic controllers at the Kansas City en route centre during the fourth quarter of 2017 (Q417).Data Comm programme services roadmap (FAA) Data Comm programme services roadmap (FAA)

This follows earlier tests carried out in October 2015 when the FAA Technical Center in Atlantic City relayed messages to participating airlines UPS and Fedex flying through Kansas City airspace at night. Lessons learned from that testing have been incorporated into the ground automation system, according to the FAA. The latest system software is being used for these next tests, which will continue to look at interoperability with avionics on board, the impact on cockpit operations, and compatibility with the ground.

The tests form part of the Data Communications Integration Services (DCIS) programme, awarded to Harris in 2012, which aims to provide a digital link between ground automation and flight deck avionics for safety-of-flight air traffic control clearances, instructions, traffic flow management, flight crew requests and reports. Harris completed delivery of Segment 1, Phase 1, in 1Q17. This involved deployment of communications infrastructure at major airport control towers to support controller pilot data link communications (CPDLC) departure clearances. Segment 1, Phase 2, will deliver data communications services in the en route domain.

Now the FAA is integrating and testing all of the required subsystems that will deliver Data Comm to the en route environment. These systems include ground automation software, inter-facility and air-to-ground communications, and aircraft avionics. The programme is also supporting controller and pilot demonstrations, evaluations, and testing to reduce risk for implementation in the cockpit and at FAA facilities.

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