Data Comm: NextGen’s Next Big Thing
Data Comm uses text messaging between the Air Traffic Controller and the Pilot instead of voice communications. Data Comm is currently in use at 56 major North American airports. Equipped aircraft can take advantage of the many benefits now.
According to the FAA “Data Comm offers many advantages to operators and controllers. In economic benefits alone, Data Comm is expected to save operators more than $10 billion over the 30-year life cycle of the program and the FAA about $1 billion in future operating costs.”
Other major benefits are time savings and safety. When requesting departure clearance equipped aircraft are put at the front of the queue ahead of non-equipped aircraft. The accuracy and speed of the digital clearance message reduces the time normally spent using voice communications. These digital text messages increase safety by eliminating misunderstandings of voice communications.
Data Comm service is currently operational at the following airport towers:
Dallas Fort Worth
New York John F. Kennedy
New York LaGuardia
Salt Lake City
Windsor Locks (Bradley)
A departure clearance using voice communications can take two to three times longer than a departure clearance via Data Comm and becomes even slower as traffic gets busier. At some airports, the process of providing navigation instructions can occur multiple times before takeoff. With Data Comm, each transmission can be quickly sent and received electronically to help avoid delays. The time saved by receiving digital clearances instead of voice instructions can make the difference between getting airborne before a thunderstorm closes the departure corridor and being stuck on the ground waiting for the storm to pass.
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