April 4, 2023

NBAA has joined with the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) in urging the FAA to restore full availability of enroute data link communications for all equipped general aviation aircraft.

Controller-pilot data link communications, or CPDLC, enables text messaging between aircraft and ATC of non-urgent strategic instructions and clearances, increasing the flight crew’s situational awareness and reducing radio frequency congestion.

Many business aircraft operators utilize CPDLC-DCL (departure clearance) and have welcomed the expansion of those capabilities to enroute clearances across portions of the continental U.S. However, the FAA in October 2019 issued a “request to stop” such enroute communications for GA aircraft.

The FAA later restored some general aviation data link availability under the U.S. Domestic Enroute CPDLC Avionics Trial. However, “confusion escalated,” NBAA and GAMA noted, after the FAA closed that program to new aircraft last year.

While interagency collaboration has made progress on the matter, resolution remains elusive and industry stakeholders have not been updated on the situation, noted the March 31 letter to FAA Air Traffic Organization Chief Operating Officer Timothy Arel and David Boulter, acting associate administrator for the FAA Aviation Safety Office.

NBAA and GAMA have asked the FAA to provide an update on the situation no later than April 30, “as well as acceptable performance for data communications for all operations,” and a timetable for publication of relevant official guidance documents.

“We recognize this is a complex situation as the FAA works to make CPDLC available to all U.S. domestic operators,” noted Heidi Williams, NBAA senior director for air traffic services and infrastructure, who co-signed the letter with Jens Hennig, vice president for operations, safety and security at GAMA.

“CPDLC-DCL has shown to reduce taxi delays and improve understanding of ATC clearances, and business aviation operators are eager to resume use of this innovative technology for enroute operations,” Williams said. “We look forward to prompt resolution of this situation.”

The letter acknowledged work to resolve the situation, adding that “industry stands ready to work with the FAA to meet this April 30 deadline.”

Review the full letter (PDF)