Oct. 15, 2019

The recently released FDC NOTAM 9/3752, which prohibits business aircraft from using en route controller pilot data link communications (CPDLC), makes clear that tower datacomm DCL ops are still permitted, said Heidi Williams, NBAA director of air traffic services and infrastructure.

When the FAA introduced DCL clearance delivery in Phase 1 of the Datacomm system, business aircraft operators recognized the significant benefit of approving the clearance, and then forwarding it to the aircraft’s flight management system. With business aviation operations equipping their aircraft and using DCL at a pace more rapid than expected, the FAA realized that business aviation was a much bigger player than originally anticipated, said Williams.

DCL services continue to provide a significant benefit to business aviation throughout the National Airspace System, Williams said.

“It is where we are getting most of our benefit in datacomm right now,” she added. “As the FAA and aircraft and avionics manufacturers work through the challenges facing en route CPDLC, more business aircraft will be added to the approved list of aircraft that can employ it during this phase of flight.”

To address the aircraft technical issues that affect the operational acceptability of domestic en route CPDLC, the NOTAM removes aircraft that were causing the issues and the FAA Data Comm program office compiled a list of aircraft configurations that have demonstrated consistent performance to achieve operational acceptability. The list identifies seven Boeing models, four from Airbus and their specific avionics equipment. Only operators whose aircraft meet these configurations can file for en route CPDLC.

The FAA urged operators to “contact their equipment manufacturer to work with the FAA and [project manager] to evaluate the operational performance of their aircraft configuration.”

This work is underway with major business aviation manufacturers, said Williams, and business aviation can again file for en route CPDLC when their aircraft’s consistent operational performance adds them to the Data Comm Recommended Avionics Version document.