Data Linking and Pilot Data Linking Communications
Irish airspace has undergone safety and efficiency enhancements with the completion of the national implementation of Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC). CPDLC enables controllers in the Shannon Area Control Centre (ACC) and pilots in suitably equipped aircraft flying above FL195 to communicate via data link or text-based messages, instead of voice, using the FANS (Future Air Navigation Systems) and ATN (Aeronautical Telecommunications Network) protocols.
CPDLC delivers many safety and efficiency improvements over spoken communications broadcast over Very High Frequency (VHF). Text messages provide greater clarity, so the risk of communications errors is significantly decreased.
Text messages also facilitate air traffic control communications with pilots whose first language is not English; a common occurrence as many intercontinental flights transit Irish airspace.
CPDLC has a series of standardised text messages covering most routine communications. At the Shannon ACC, these are displayed on a drop-down menu enabling fast and efficient selection and transmission. For example, CPDLC messages from flight crews could include a request to change altitude or route. A typical message from controllers could be a route clearance or frequency assignment.
AirNav first deployed CPDLC in March 2012 with a limited subset of non-profile changing messages for FANS equipped aircraft. The full rollout was completed in June 2014 with the inclusion of profile changing messages for all FANS and ATN equipped aircraft.