July 11, 2019

Aircraft operators seeking authorization for data link communications capability are encouraged to reference a useful compliance tool recently published by the FAA – “Data Link Communications Compliance Guide.”

Authorization to use data link communications is achieved through issuance of Operations Specification, Management Specification or Letter of Authorization A056m which authorizes use of controller pilot data link communications (CPDLC) and performance based communication and surveillance through various equipment requirements, including automatic dependent surveillance – contract (ADS-C.

Part 91 operators do not require authorization for U.S. domestic CPDLC. However, all types of operations – including Parts 91, 91(K), 121, 125 and 135 – must be FANS 1/A compliant (that is, CPDLC-authorized and ADS-C equipped) to fly in North Atlantic airspace FL290 and above by Jan. 1, 2020. A056 authorization is proof of compliance with those requirements.

“The revised guide is part of the FAA’s efforts to streamline the application process and reduce the number of returned applications due to missing or insufficient information,” said Rich Boll, a member of NBAA’s Access Committee. “For U.S.-registered aircraft operating internationally, A056 authorization becomes increasingly important as we approach Jan. 1, 2020.”

Boll encouraged operators to review the revised guide and follow its recommendations to ensure a smooth application process. He emphasized attaching files to the compliance guide using the Acrobat attachment (i.e., Aircraft Flight Manual, Aircraft Flight Manual Supplement or other manufacturer data) to assist FAA specialists reviewing applications.

Operators also are encouraged to review flight plan datalink communications codes, which differ in the U.S. from international flight plans. Ensure that codes filed in the sample flight plans match the aircraft equipment capabilities being claimed in the application. Using the correct code will ensure operators are efficiently routed. Appendix A of the guide includes all flight plan communications descriptors.

Boll further explained A056 authorizations are issued by FAA specialists and not the local Flight Standards Office, so non-compliant applications are routed back to the operator through the local office.

“Become familiar with the guide and follow its recommendations,” added Boll. “The FAA will have more A056 applications to process as we approach 2020. A well-prepared application will help expedite your authorization process.”