An enabling and transformational component of the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR); critical to achieving a performance-based NAS. This will provide comprehensive data connectivity, including ground automation message generation and receipt, message routing and transmission, and aircraft avionics requirements.
Will automate repetitive tasks, supplement voice communications with less workload-intensive data communications, and enable ground systems to use real-time aircraft data to improve traffic management efficiency.
Once implemented, Data Comm and NextGen will enable air traffic control to issue complex clearances to a pilot and the aircraft’s flight management system via electronic data transfer instead of time-consuming voice transmission.
Operations and services enabled by Data Comm allow air traffic controllers to manage more traffic, increasing the capacity of the NAS, airspace user efficiency, and enhancing safety.
Lowers operational costs for airspace users and the FAA.
Historical perspective: Controller-pilot communication was and is mainly enabled by radio transmissions on a single shared frequency.
Data communication between aircraft and ANSP is used to exchange clearances, amendments, and requests. At specified airports, data communications is the principal means of communication between ANSP and equipped aircraft. “Terminal automation provides the ability to transmit automated terminal information, departure clearances and amendments, and taxi route instructions via data communications, including hold-short instructions. The taxi route instruction data communication function reduces requests for progressive taxi instructions. Benefits arising from this capability, in conjunction with other NAS investments, include enhanced airport throughput, controller efficiency, enhanced safety, as well as reduced fuel burn and emissions. OI 104207 Enhanced Surface Operations
- NextGen/SESAR hazard condition: Clearances are issued via data link where possible. Associated human performance hazards:
- Controller fails to issue clearance to pilot.
- Controller issues clearance to incorrect pilot
- Voice-issued amendment not entered into automation
- NextGen/SESAR hazard condition: Controller sends clearance via DataComm. Associated human performance hazard: Controller fails to execute sending of clearance.
- When approach and landing clearances are transmitted by data link to cockpit during this critical phase of flight, traffic watch (“heads-up”) time may be reduced due to the fact that one pilot may be head down responding to and accepting DataComm clearance; especially below 10,000 ft. AGL.
- Voice inflection, emphasis, and urgency will be absent in a text-based data communications system.
- Loss of “party line” insight to clearance being provided to other aircraft. Spatial information on other aircraft locations provided on NAV displays does not replace intent information provided by listening to clearances provided to other aircraft.
- Reliability and security of the CPDLC links may be compromised by cyber security vulnerabilities.
- DataLink Challenges from Nav Canada:
- Consistency of Information
- Hyphen in tail numbers, not in Flight Plan
- Leading zeros in AFN name
- Different variations of equipment.
- Use of adaptation to deal with differences in Avionics, unsolicited Clearances, different clearance formats.
- Errors or delays in message flows
- Errors in Flight Plan messages causing delay of flight entry in ATC systems , causes issues in order of message and protocols in PDC, FANS and OCL
- Missing or delayed AFN, RCLs causing issues
- Standardizing Data link information on flight plans
- Awaiting ICAO Flight Plan 2012 changes.
- System Failures – Complete
- Fallback Infrastructure
- Degraded Mode of Operations – Partial Loss
- Adequate today?
- 90% of problems are due to special cases:
- Logon problems, hyphens, leading zeros missing CRCs