A five-year plan–four-fifths of which FAA Administrator Marion Blakey could actually see through to fruition–was laid out in draft form in late July for the aviation industry at a meeting at FAA headquarters in Washington. Titled Flight Plan 2004-2008, it sets as its goals: increased safety, greater capacity, international leadership and organizational excellence.
Controller Pilot Data Link Communications
Eurocontrol has introduced a new screen-to-screen datalink between pilots and air traffic controllers at its Maastricht upper-area control (UAC) center in the Netherlands. The controller-pilot datalink communication (CPDLC) system supplements existing voice contact by allowing text messages between screens in the cockpit and on the ground to reduce workload at both ends.
Although the FAA has finally commissioned its first standard terminal automation replacement system (Stars), the agency has drastically reduced the number of systems it plans to install at the nation’s airports. And that has caused some people to question the FAA’s commitment to ATC modernization.
While the FAA has decided to postpone the introduction of controller/pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) in the NAS, Eurocontrol has stated its intent to move forward with an ambitious datalink-implementation program.
International Communications Group of Newport News, Va., said it has started deliveries of the NxtLink 120A and 220A Iridium communications systems. Both support Fans (future air navigation system), CPDLC (controller-pilot datalink communications) and Acars messaging anywhere in the world. Intended for use in the cockpit, the NxtLink 120A product includes two Iridium transceivers
Collaborative decision-making (CDM), the effort instituted by the FAA and the airlines to reroute traffic each day away from anticipated weather trouble spots across the country, is a major topic among NBAA Airspace/Air Traffic Committee members.
Rockwell Collins is banking on its new digital data acquisition, distribution and display architecture, called eFlight, to coordinate a wide range of in-flight and air-to-ground activities aboard aircraft.
Universal Avionics has unveiled the first phase of its new synthetic-vision cockpit avionics suite, Cockpit 1, which features large flat-panel integrated displays (FPIDs), Super FMS flight management systems, TAWS, Vision 1 systems, UniLink, color LCD radio control units and an integrated electronic chart/checklist system.
A recent FAA briefing note concluded, “The future of ATC is all about data communications,” and government and industry officials, both in the U.S. and overseas, are in complete agreement with this view. The problem facing aviation is that these same officials seem to be in agreement on precious little else.
Despite recent events, the FAA is continuing its modernization of the National Airspace System (NAS), and controller-pilot datalink communication (CPDLC) remains a key building block in its Operational Evolution Plan.