March 6 – Data Comm, the NextGen technology that is revolutionizing communication between air traffic controllers and pilots, is now helping to enhance safety and reduce departure delays at Miami International Airport, the 12th busiest airport in North America and the largest gateway to Latin America.
The new technology supplements radio voice communication, enabling controllers and pilots to transmit important information including clearances, revised flight plans and advisories with the touch of a button.
“Data Comm represents a whole new era of communications between controllers and pilots,” said Jim Eck, the FAA’s Assistant Administrator for NextGen. “This translates directly into safer, more efficient operations, helping aircraft take off and reach their destinations on time.”
Voice communications can be time consuming and labor intensive. For example, when planes are awaiting takeoff, controllers must use a two-way radio to issue new routes to the pilots to help them avoid bad weather. This process can take 30 minutes or more, depending on how many aircraft are in line for departure, and also has the potential for miscommunication known as “readback/hearback” error.
By contrast, flight crews on planes using Data Comm receive revised flight plans from the controllers via digital messages. The crews review the new clearances and accept the updated instructions with the push of a button. Planes keep their spots in the takeoff line – or may even be taken out of line and sent ahead – enabling them to depart on time.
Data Comm is now operational at 55 air traffic control towers, following a rollout that was under budget and more than two and a half years ahead of schedule:
New York John F. Kennedy
New York LaGuardia
Salt Lake City
Windsor Locks (Bradley)