One of the biggest constraints in air traffic control today is the saturation of voice communication channels. Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications, CPDLC, helps alleviate this saturation by providing another means of communication for aircrews and air traffic controllers. It works through the fast exchange of text messages via data link.
What’s it in it for pilots? Here are the benefits:
- pilots have a reduced VHF (very high frequency) communications workload
- CPDLC frees up time to concentrate on other tasks
- pilots receive clear messages with no risk of misunderstanding
- there are no stuck microphones, blocked frequencies or static interference with CPDLC
- simultaneous transmissions are reduced or avoided altogether
- safety is improved as the incidents attributable to communication issues are reduced
- continuous climb/descent operations and DCT (direct routings) might only be available through CPDLC in busy VHF situations
- routine communications between pilots and controllers are clearer
These days, an issue facing aviation is how to increase human resources in parallel with steep traffic growth. Data link can help, as a 75% equipage rate of CPDLC will generate an estimated +11% ATC capacity!
So, by using data link in the cockpit, pilots can help their air traffic controller colleagues and, in exchange, they will benefit from a better service and fewer ATC capacity-related delays.
A fair number of air traffic control centres across Europe have already implemented data link services or are in the process of doing so. Our Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre (MUAC) is an early adopter of CPDLC.
Aircrew flying CPDLC-equipped aircraft are encouraged to use the tool, for the benefit of all concerned.