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Data Communications (Data Comm)

The Data Communications (Data Comm) program provides data communications services between pilots and air traffic controllers. Data Comm provides a digital link between ground automation and flight deck avionics for safety-of-flight air traffic control clearances, instructions, traffic flow management, flight crew requests and reports. Data Comm is critical to the success of NextGen operational improvements by providing communication infrastructure enhancements and will:

  • Reduce delays and provide more efficient routes for aircraft;
  • Improve controller and pilot efficiency leading to increased system throughput;
  • Enhance safety by reducing operational errors associated with voice communication;
  • Reduce the impact of ground delays due to congestion and adverse weather;
  • Reduce environmental impact due to less fuel burn and emissions; and
  • Enable NextGen services (e.g., enhanced re-routes, trajectory operations)

These improvements to the National Airspace System (NAS) will be delivered by Data Comm in two segments:

Data Comm Program Services Roadmap
  • Segment 1 provides an initial set of data communications services integrated with automation support tools to provide NAS benefits and lay the foundation for a data-driven NAS.
    • Segment 1 Phase 1 (S1P1) has completed deployment of the Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) Departure Clearance (DCL) in the Tower domain.
    • Segment 1 Phase 2 (S1P2) will deliver data communications services to the En Route domain. The Data Comm En Route services will contribute to a reduction in flight delays, more efficient routes for aircraft resulting in increased operational efficiency, and enhanced safety while reducing operational costs for airspace users.
  • Segment 2 will further build upon CPDLC DCL and En Route services by supporting the delivery of services to enable more advanced NextGen operations not possible using voice communications, such as four-dimensional trajectories and advanced flight interval management. Data Comm will also implement an Aeronautical Telecommunications Network (ATN) ground system to support advanced Baseline 2 avionics. ATN is a secure architecture that allows ground/ground, air/ground, and avionic data sub-networks to interoperate by adopting common interface services and protocols. The Baseline 2 set of ATN standards, which will enable advanced operations and services, represents the internationally harmonized standard for data communications avionics.

Learn more about what the Data Comm program has delivered.

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