The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced the award of the Oceanic Data Link (ODL) contract to SITA to provide its Future Air Navigation System (FANS-1/A)-based datalink solutions for the management of air traffic across the United States’ oceanic airspace. SITA’s proven solution will support accurate, real-time communication between pilots and air traffic controllers across the world’s busiest oceanic airspace. Air traffic controllers operating from the FAA’s bases in Anchorage, New York and Oakland will be able to send up to 1,200 messages per hour – including multiple messages concurrently. This will help controllers better detect conflicts between aircraft and offer more optimal routings for aircraft.
Using SITA’s Automatic-Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) and Controller-Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC) managed services, pilots and air traffic controllers can communicate directly using standardised digital text messages that appear on an aircraft’s control display unit. These text messages, sent via SITA’s ATC Datalink Service, provide aircraft position, route, requests and guidance for routing, speed and altitude changes, as well as weather and traffic advisories. They are visible to all flight crew as they are sent.
The oceanic airspace links the United States to Europe and Asia, covering 62,4-million square kilometres of airspace. The North Atlantic is by far the world’s busiest oceanic air traffic route, with about 2,000 aircraft crossing the ocean between the east coast of the United States and Europe every day. Despite a COVID-induced downturn, traffic on this route is predicted to increase by 50 percent over the next decade.
Using SATCOM and VHF Digital Link (VDL) technology, pilots will receive ATC instructions in almost real-time while air traffic controllers have a more accurate and confirmed picture of where aircraft are at any point. As a result, air traffic control can reduce the separation between planes and deliver greater airspace capacity in future. This separation also allows more aircraft equipped with datalink technology benefit from favourable metrological conditions such as jet streams, using the FAA’s Organised Tracking Solution. This can provide significant fuel savings to airlines, and will also help them gain operational and environmental efficiencies in the future.