Many people who frequent the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport were concerned a few days ago after hearing that the Federal Aviation Administration announced a new texting communication system for many incoming planes. The traditional voice communications will be replaced with a system called Data Comm. The new cockpit technology is expected to simplify and improve information exchanges for airports and aircraft.
Why The Switch?
A spokesperson from the FAA said that voice communication was too expensive, was labor intensive and took too much time. The spokesperson also pointed out that voice-based communication leaves too much room for speaking or comprehension errors. With the new Data Comm system, information exchanges are written in simple concise text. This will help reduce verbal and auditory misinterpretations. Data Comm’s benefits go beyond improving vital communications between pilots and air traffic controllers. The change is expected to improve communications within a plane. This includes advisories, crew requests, clearances and reports between the cockpit and the flight crew.
The FAA spokesperson said that efficient and accurate communication is expected to improve safety for all passengers and crew members, reduce the number of flight delays and enhance staff productivity. Also, the new communication system may help some pilots find more direct routes that save money on fuel and help keep ticket costs affordable. With the ability to find more efficient routes, airlines can reduce their environmental impact.
Although Data Comm is expected to become the new standard for all airlines soon, it is now being used by several large carriers. The affected carriers include FedEx, American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Delta Airlines and UPS. However, the technology has already been tested. In 2014, the FAA tested Data Comm with UPS and FedEx at Newark’s airport. The technology was such a success that the FAA wasted no time in moving forward with preparations. According to an April 2017 press release from the FAA, the Data Comm implementation plan is two years ahead of schedule.
There were additional smaller tests conducted on cargo and passenger airlines in Salt Lake City and Memphis earlier this year. Although the system is just getting started, Data Comm technology has been installed and prepared in over 50 airports across the United States. The new communication system was inspired by the efficient and accurate datalink messaging method that has been used in oceanic airspace since the 1990s.