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Flight Crews: Tips for Getting Started With CPDLC

Now that the initial trials of Controller Pilot Datalink Communications (CPDLC) – the basic equivalent of pilot-to-ATC texting – have ended, the system is available for business aviation aircraft operating in many parts of U.S. domestic enroute airspace.

CPDLC texting significantly reduces the number of radio transmissions and frequency congestion between cockpit crews and ATC, as well as the chances for clearances being misunderstood.

Not all U.S. ATC centers are currently participating in CPDLC. Los Angeles, New York, Albuquerque, Memphis, Cleveland and Boston Center are expected to be fully functional by the summer of 2025. The most up-to-date list can be found at the FAA’s Data Comm page. And in the U.S., the CPDLC logon code is KUSA.

The recently published FAA InFO 23008 points out that an OpSpec, MSpec or other authorization is not required to operate in domestic airspace. Aircraft operating internationally still require an A056 authorization. “All operators have the responsibility of knowing individual avionics capabilities and FAA domestic airspace datalink communications (CPDLC) requirements,” according to the agency. These include VHF Digital Link Mode 2 Approved to TSO-C160a or an equivalent that meets the specification of automatically tuning to multiple frequencies as well as a push-to-load capability for loading route changes into the navigation system as they are received.

“We want to ensure that operators understand what that process involves, and some of the complexities that are part of that process.”

Heidi Williams, NBAA Senior Director for Air Traffic Services and Infrastructure

“With this change in policy guidance, there is a process operators will need to comply with,” said Heidi Williams, NBAA’s senior director for air traffic services and infrastructure. “We want to ensure that operators understand what that process involves, and some of the complexities that are part of that process.”

One of the first steps to operational readiness for operators is to compare their aircraft’s current avionics against the En-Route CPDLC Participation List at Aircraft listed in the red column cannot participate in CPDLC at this time. Further communications with the OEM are the next step. Aircraft listed in the yellow or green columns may participate. Yellow listed aircraft have avionics that have not successfully completed the minimum number of enroute CPDLC transactions, or they include non-safety-of-flight performance issues that will still allow continued participation in enroute CPDLC pending a permanent fix.

For aircraft not on the list, the OEM and the avionics supplier must conduct interoperability testing that requires about six hours. Next, the aircraft should be updated on the yellow list within a month. The participation list also details reasons behind operability problems with many avionics systems as well as some of the pathways to compliance.

A common pathway “requires the evaluation of the accumulated 10,000 operational transactions is complete and satisfactory.” Aircraft with critical CPDLC-related avionics issues, and aircraft with unacceptable air-to-ground enroute CPDLC performance, will be in the “red” level and excluded from enroute CPDLC. However, they may still be allowed to participate in the datalink clearances program.

Finally, operators should complete a U.S. Domestic En Route CPDLC participation form available at The form itself is submitted to L3Harris. If avionics change in a way that could affect CPDLC performance, operators must resubmit this form to confirm the update.

Review NBAA’s data communications resources at

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