Category Archives: Air Traffic Control

The FAA Wants You to Text While Flying

That’s right. The FAA wants pilots to text while flying. But not on your phone. A VHF Data Link, is the digital conduit for text messages between ATC and airplanes. Consider it the next step in the Next Generation Air Transportation System. Right now participation is voluntary, but one way or another, that may change once we get past the ADS-B deadline of January 1, 2020 (How are you doing on that, by the way?).

There’s no telling if or when there will be a similar mandate for data communication equipment, but ATC has ways of encouraging aircraft operators to step up. First among them is serving first those aircraft with the desired equipment. And with data comm, being equipped is the only way to take advantage of the service.

For those fuzzy on exactly what data comm is, and what it can do, in simple terms, it’s a text message a controller sends to a pilot. When the system is fully operational, it could be anything from an IFR clearance to reroutes to a alternate destination and just about anything in between. The messages use a set format. Upon receipt, the pilot reads and then pushes a button to accept or decline the instructions. If accepted, the pilot then hits another button to load the instructions into the airplanes flight management system.

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