Feb. 2, 2015

Feb. 5 marks the implementation of Phase 2 of the North Atlantic Data Link Mandate (NAT DLM). This initiative seeks to enhance communication, surveillance and air traffic control intervention capabilities in the NAT region in order to increase the overall flow of traffic, while ensuring safety and reducing collision risk, especially along the vertical plane.

Meanwhile, Eurocontrol has postponed the VHF Data Link (VDL) Mode 2 Communications mandate in Europe until Feb. 5, 2020. Beginning in 2020, all civil aircraft operating IFR above FL285 in the Eurocontrol area must be retrofitted to support VDL Mode 2 data. Aircraft delivered before 2014 with FANS A/1 installed are exempt from this mandate.

Phase 2 of the NAT DLM builds on Phase 1, which required that all aircraft operating on or at any point along two specified tracks within the NAT organized track system (OTS) between FL360 and FL390 during the OTS validity period be fitted with and using future air navigation systems (FANS) A/1 (or equivalent) controller-pilot data link communications (CPDLC) and automatic dependent surveillance – contract (ADS-C) equipment. Phase 1 began on Feb. 7, 2013.

Phase 2 will be rolled out in three stages (2A, 2B and 2C), with 2B and 2C beginning on Dec. 7, 2017, and Jan. 30, 2020, respectively.

Phase 2A applies to all tracks within the NAT OTS, from FL350 to FL390. Aircraft must be equipped with FANS A/1 (or equivalent) CPDLC and ADS-C data link systems in order to operate on these tracks beginning Feb. 5. Aircraft operators should note there are some exceptions to the NAT region DLM airspace, including ATS surveillance airspace, the New York Oceanic Flight Information Region and airspace north of 80 degrees north.

Phase 2B will begin on Dec. 7, 2017, and apply to FL350 to FL390 through the ICAO NAT region. Phase 2C will begin on Jan. 30, 2020, and apply to FL290 and above throughout the ICAO NAT region.

The NAT Systems Planning Group goals state that by 2018, 90 percent of aircraft operation in the NAT region airspace at FL290 and above should be equipped with FANS A/1 (or equivalent) CPDLC and ADS-C equipment, and that by 2020, 95 percent of aircraft operating in that airspace will be so equipped.