The requirement for aircraft flying above FL285 in Europe to have the latest VDLM2 datalink capability begins on Jan. 1, 2011, and initially will apply to all new aircraft delivered after that date. From Feb. 5, 2015, the mandate will be extended to all aircraft wanting to fly above this altitude.
Aviation communications specialist Arinc Direct (Booth No. 3440) is advising operators not to delay preparations to ensure that their aircraft can meet the VDLM2 requirement to avoid the inconvenience and additional operating cost of having to operate below FL285. Speaking at the Light Jets Europe conference in the UK last month, Arinc Direct senior business manager James Hardie also advised operators who are due to take delivery of new aircraft to double-check that they are certified as VDLM2-compliant if the delivery is to be made from the start of next year.
“Just because your aircraft already has datalink doesn’t mean you can relax,” warned Hardie, referring to the fact that existing datalink installations do not necessarily meet the VDLM2 requirements. In some cases, upgrades can be made via software changes (as long as the aircraft is digitally wired), but operators need to check with equipment suppliers to be sure. The transition entails a progression from an Acars datalink based on analog VHF with data rates of just 2.4 kbps to the VDML2 standard based on a mode-2 VHF digital link at 30.5 kbps combined with ATN software for controller pilot datalink communications.
Work on ensuring that the necessary VDLM2 ground stations are in place is quite far advanced with the final deadlines for national air traffic management providers to comply being 2013 in western Europe and 2015 for most of central and eastern Europe. For its part, Arinc has already deployed most of the ground network that it uses to deliver services requiring datalinks. Its most recent installation was a new VHF datalink station at the UK’s Oxford Airport to meet growing demand for its GLOBALink VHF service.