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FAA Wants to Quiet Radios With Data Comm

New next-generation technology would allow pilots to receive information via computer and text messaging.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants to make radio communications between pilots and air traffic controllers a thing of the past using technology that would move instructional conversations from the air to a message pad. NBC News reports that the FAA is working to roll out Data Communications to airports and commercial aircraft, as a single component of the Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen).

The system works by sending text messages and flight information directly to pilots over wireless data channels. Through Data Comm, air traffic control personnel could send out data to multiple pilots at the same time about flight patterns and changed flight routes, as well as information about altitudes and air speeds. Currently, those instructions are given out to one plane at a time over the radio to aircraft.

“With Data Comm, a controller can give multiple aircraft their flight plans all at the same time,” FAA administrator Michael Huerta told NBC News. “What that really enables a controller to do is focus on where they need to be focused on ensuring that the airfield is operating in a safe manner.”

According to the FAA, Data Comm “represents the first phase of the transition from the current analog voice system to an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)-compliant system in which digital communication becomes an alternate and eventually predominant mode of communication.” Since the program announcement last year, eight American air carriers and 17 international airlines have committed to adding Data Comm systems to their aircraft in the future, while 50 airports across the United States will have Data Comm operational. The FAA wants to have this program completed and in place by 2025.

Data Comm is part of the FAA NextGen plan, which would overhaul air traffic control in the United States. The program has met resistance from lawmakers and Delta Air Lines, with both groups rallying for other alternatives to the program.

[Photo: Wikiphoto Creative Commons]

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sdsearch September 20, 2016

The FAA wants to promote texting while flying??? Anyway, what about communication with private planes at the same airport? I flew in a small private prop plane from the same ANC airport that major airlines use, and I don't see where in that teeny tiny cockpit there would have been room to add a pad.