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NextGen: Backing Out Voice Comm

NextGen: Backing Out Voice Comm

  • October
  • 14
  • 2014
  • John Frazier

iStock 000025640783 SmallData Comm is an important component of the total NextGen system. Elements of it have been in live operational trials at Memphis and Newark since 2011, with the general rollout commencing in June, 2015 at SLC, IAH, and HOU. Another 56 airports are planned to be online by the end of 2016.

Simply put, the initial Data Comm component in NextGen will come in two parts: Segment 1, Phase 1 – Tower Services will be Departure Clearance delivery (DCL), to be followed somewhat later by Segment 1, Phase 2 – En Route Services. Both of these developments are fairly significant evolutions from such existing technologies as ACARS PDC, ARINC – 623 DCL (currently operating in Europe), and CPDLC. The En Route component is currently scheduled to begin initial roll-out in the 2018 time frame.

The Tower Services DCL component, which rolls out in June 2015, is FANS 1/A based, and the zinger is that it will be ‘integrated’; meaning it will auto-load into your avionics, unlike existing ACARS and ARINC technologies. Complex route clearances will be handled this way, and more importantly, route revisions will also.

From a systems-wide, big picture perspective, the main targeted benefit is being touted as the time and efficiency gains to be had recovering from ‘disruptions’; typically severe weather. These benefits have already been demonstrated in trials and predicted based on modeling in places such as Houston. (Can’t argue with that pick.)

From the perspective of the individual crewmember, however, other benefits come to mind. For example, position yourself on the ramp at TEB on a Friday night holiday weekend, trying to get through the giant Shout-Out that is taking place on the clearance delivery frequency as the thunderstorms roll through. We are clearly overdue to improve on that experience.

Unlike Europe, where eventual participation (and cost) will be required at some point, the FAA plans no mandate, preferring the benefits incentive as the carrot. Given the politicized nature of every major FAA initiative and the enormous clout with Congress of the aviation industries Alphabet lobbies, this is not surprising. Issues associated with the upcoming ADS-B mandate may have been instructive also. The “wait until the last minute and hope the mandate gets deferred” game plan is still alive and well.

An excellent NBAA/Jeppesen Webinar on the Data Comm subject was aired on October 8. A .pdf file of the slides is attached below as a supporting element of this article. The subject contains a hefty technical element, and the slides are not entirely stand-alone; so putting your search engine to work can also be helpful if you are new to this subject and want to know more.

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