The FAA recently issued a notam prohibiting general and business aviation aircraft from using en route Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) except for approved “trial participants.” According to the agency, many avionics configurations in these aircraft have not been able to consistently demonstrate operational performance to allow reliable CPDLC operations in the National Airspace System (NAS).
Per the notam, CPDLC departure clearance (DCL) operations are still permitted, but to operate CPDLC en route the operator must verify that its aircraft meets the “verification of avionics configurations” list and fill out the U.S. Domestic Enroute Eligibility form.
The FAA warns that aircraft operators not meeting an approved configuration—meaning being included on the current avionics configuration list—must temporarily stop filing flight plans (flight plan code in block 18) for en route CPDLC. Only those aircraft that have demonstrated consistent performance and are included on the approved list can participate and file in the CPDLC en route trial and use en route CPDLC services.
Both the FAA and L3 Harris are working with business aircraft OEMs and operators to evaluate and update the operational performance of various avionics configurations to be included on the approved list.
CPDLC allows the NAS to be safer and more efficient by handling more traffic, reducing routings, and flight delays, while reducing operational costs. The technology creates a digital “handshake” between ATC and pilots that allows simplified text exchanges for routine communications. According to L3 Harris, to date nearly 6,000 aircraft are CPDLC-equipped and have flown more than 13 million flights, with CPDLC responsible for saving nearly 42,000 hours of flight time.