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FAA Thinks This New System Will Reduce Flight Delays

Flights information board in airport terminal

Text-based aircraft communication and automation system could reduce wait time and delays on tarmac, leading to more on-time flights.

Could text messaging from the cockpit be the next technology to keep flights moving on time? The Federal Aviation Administration is betting on it, as they prepare to launch a next generation communication system across the United States. USA Today reports the new system, called “Data Comm,” will soon be available on commercial flights throughout America.

The new system works to deliver text messages between air traffic control and flights departing from airports. Instead of delivering verbal instructions to flights, air traffic controllers can deliver instructions by text message. The instructions can include alterations to flight plans due to weather, air traffic and other situations. As a result, pilots can click one button to accept the instructions, which are automatically programmed into the aircraft flight management system.

Once installed at airports, officials at the FAA believe the new system will help airlines and airports cut down on flight delays. While the system will remain optional, the FAA believes many carriers will adopt the technology as part of their regular operations.

“It’s not hard to see the benefit of this technology,” Michael Huerta, administrator of the FAA, told USA Today at a press conference. “Airlines stay on schedule. Packages get delivered on time. Passengers get off the tarmac and into the air and ultimately to their destinations much more quickly.”

Airlines agree that the new system could help them stay on time and actualize better operational results. The program has received two years of testing at both Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Memphis International Airport (MEM) with United Airlines and air freight partners FedEx and UPS.

The new Data Comm system will roll out this summer at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH), Houston William P. Hobby Airport (HOU) and Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). Data Comm is expected to be available at over 50 American airports by 2016.

[Photo: iStock]

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