Some positive news about Data Comm—others?

faa data comm benefits nextgen
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FAA NextGen Data Comm

Benefits & Latest Accomplishments

The list of NextGen critiques—the OIG, GAO, any number of Congressional committees and the think tanks—is long. They all seem to relish finding fault with the civil government’s largest, most complex technology project.

While some of those objections may be valid, there is also much to be complimented; the FAA tracks its progress on a website:

Here’s the latest on our accomplishments over the past year, and a look at what you can expect for the next few years.

faa nextgen data comm benefits

Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast
The NextGen successor to radar surveillance

Providing the air traffic control platforms for NextGen improvements

Data Communications
Digital text-based supplement to voice communication

NAS Voice System
More power and flexibility in controller-pilot voice communications

Performance Based Navigation
Greater navigational precision and accuracy

System Wide Information Management
The backbone of NextGen digital data delivery

Decision Support Systems
Optimizing air traffic flow with automated tools

Environment and Energy
Reducing aviation’s environmental footprint

Enhancing the world’s safest aviation system


Harris Corporation issued a statement which highlighted a significant accomplishment:

“US air traffic controllers and pilots have used NextGen Data Communications (Data Comm) technology to clear more than one million flights – reaching the significant milestone within budget and nearly two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule.

As part of the FAA’s NextGen air traffic modernisation programme, Data Comm transforms controller-to-cockpit communication – augmenting traditional voice communication with more agile and efficient digital communication.

This streamlines communication between pilots and controllers during airport clearance delivery, a process that can consume several minutes using only voice communication. The digital process not only saves time, but eliminates read-back/hear-back errors between controllers and pilots.

This clearer communication allows the US National Airspace System (NAS) to handle more air traffic, reduces flight delays, routes aircraft more efficiently and enhances safety – all while reducing operational costs for commercial aviation stakeholders.”

The FAA’s website listed the 55 airports at which Data Comm is now operative and notes that implementation is 30 months ahead of schedule:

Data Comm is now operational at the 55 air traffic control towers listed below. Its rollout is under budget and more than two-and-a-half years ahead of schedule. That budget savings will enable the FAA to deploy Data Comm at even more airports. We also are planning to implement it in air traffic control facilities that manage high altitude traffic beginning in 2019.

  • Albuquerque
  • Atlanta
  • Austin
  • Baltimore-Washington
  • Boston
  • Burbank
  • Charlotte
  • Chicago O’Hare
  • Chicago Midway
  • Cleveland
  • Dallas-Ft. Worth
  • Dallas Love
  • Denver
  • Detroit
  • Fort Lauderdale
  • Houston Bush
  • Houston Hobby
  • Indianapolis
  • Kansas City
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Louisville
  • Memphis
  • Miami
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • Milwaukee
  • Nashville
  • Newark
  • New Orleans
  • New York John F. Kennedy
  • New York LaGuardia
  • Oakland
  • Ontario
  • Orlando
  • Philadelphia
  • Phoenix
  • Pittsburgh
  • Portland
  • Raleigh-Durham
  • Sacramento
  • San Juan
  • St. Louis
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Antonio
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose
  • Santa Ana
  • Seattle
  • Tampa
  • Teterboro
  • Washington Dulles
  • Washington Reagan
  • Westchester County
  • Windsor Locks (Bradley)


faa data comm digital communication

While it may be said that Harris Corporation’s action is self-serving (Data Comm Integrated Services (DCIS) contract, including management and delivery of the air-to-ground data communications network that connects FAA air traffic control (ATC) sites and data communications-equipped aircraft), its message may get greater coverage and may be considered as more credible to some. Private sector positive pronouncements are needed in these times of negativity.


FAA’s Data Comm reaches 1m flight milestone
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