FAA to test data-communication innovations with Federal Express, United Airlines, and Delta Airlines


WASHINGTON, 11 Oct. 2012. On the heels of awarding Harris Corp. a $331 million contract to deploy data communications (Data Comm) in dozens of air traffic control towers in the next six years, FAA officials, including FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta, plan to deploy Data Comm in en route centers that manage high-altitude traffic.

“To facilitate the roll out of Data Comm, we plan to validate the system’s capabilities at three air traffic control towers around the country in a pilot program,” Huerta explains. Government and industry will test Data Comm with FedEx in Memphis, with United in Newark, and with Delta in Atlanta.

The goal of Data Comm is to provide a two-way data exchange between controllers and flight crews. It will supplement, but not entirely replace, voice communication on the radio, as well as help with departure clearances, instructions, advisories, flight crew requests, and reports.

Data Comm will also enhance air traffic safety by enabling controllers to provide more timely and effective clearances. The more reliable and timely delivery of messages will reduce the risk of incidents associated with voice communications.

“Data Comm is just one part of the big NextGen picture,” Huerta says. “But, it shows the relevance and importance of interconnecting technologies. It also shows how important it is to work together as operators, regulators, unions, and airports.”

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