There is a CPDLC trial running in the US, but it isn’t open for everyone…
General CPDLC stuff
CPDLC is basically a sort of ‘text messaging’ system that lets ATC contact you, and you contact them.
Some other useful info:
- Europe have a logon list. If you want an answer then register.
- Europe use ATN, everywhere else uses FANS. If you only have FANS then you can still call yourself ‘CPDLC in Europe’ if your original certificate of registration is pre 2018.
- Just to be clear, the US requires FANS 1/A.
- If your airplane is younger than 2014 then the system also needs a message recording function.
- PBCS tracks need a performance standard of RCP240 (ADS-C is RSP180).
- AO56 is the LOA to get (or maybe A003).
We actually made A little Opsicle on CPDLC just the other day. It is quite a silly one, but here it is if you want a look:
CPDLC in the US
The US has CPDLC in a bunch of places. It isn’t really mandatory yet though. At least not the domestic en-route CPDLC. This is the bit they are running a trial for, and they’re doing it with L3Harris.
The trial is actually, specifically, for the business and general aviation community. The likes of Boeing and Airbus (or rather their avionics configurations) have already been approved.
So, here is the FAA info on it. Or rather, this is the notice talking about who can participate in the trial. They released this because a bunch of folk were participating, but their avionics version or configuration wasn’t good enough and it was messing up the results.
So how do you know if you’ve got what it takes?
All the systems are listed on the L3Harris site. If your aircraft type is missing from the Trial List (shown below), this means that operational acceptability hasn’t been determined yet for that specific aircraft type. If that’s you, you can fill in the form and email it to them at DCIT@L3Harris.com and they will check to see whether you have the spec to participate in the trial.
If your aircraft type (system) is not on it, then don’t file as capable of en-route CPDLC and don’t try and ‘participate’.
For those of you who are on it…
Here is a map of current active CPDLC sites:
ZID/Indianapolis, ZKC/Kansas City, ZMP/Minneapolis, ZDC/Washington, ZOA/Oakland, and ZMA/Miami en-route control facilities are all up and running 24/7 now.
We’ve so far only found a table showing 61 airports where CPDLC DCL services are currently available:
But we know this is a bit out of date. We’ve counted 65 airports currently operational including these:
- KPBI/Palm Beach
- KCVG/Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky
- KADW/Joint Base Andrews
Some stuff on using it
OK, so if you take-off from an airport that has CPDLC DCL and which is in an en-route CPDLC area then KUSA (because they’re who you’ll basically be logged onto on the ground) is going to stay active and there is nothing else to do once airborne.
If you take-off logged onto KUSA and only get into the en-route CPDLC bit later then again, KUSA stays on and there’s nothing more for you to do.
If you take-off logged onto KUSA and then are leaving all CPDLC airspace, it will auto log off when it needs to.
For all other scenarios, you probably need to manually log on when you reach the place where CPDLC is available.
KUSA is available on the ground in the lower 48 states, San Juan and Puerto Rico.
L3Harris are very active in all this and get in touch if they spot any irregularities with aircraft involved in the trial (nice to know they’re out there, watching).
Handing over the ‘info baton’
So far, all this has been snatched from a bunch of very handy guides that L3Harris publish, so here are the links to those for further info:
- The main L3Harris page on the FAA DataComm stuff
- The CPDLC Pilot Handbook, by L3Harris
- The FAA page on DataComm stuff (not just for this trial, but anywhere they use it)
And if you are an operator in the US with questions about this, then speak to these folk – DCIT@L3Harris.com
More on the topic:
- More: US Grounds All Flights After NOTAM System Failure
- More: New US Rule for China Arrivals
- More: Datalink in Europe: What Are The Rules?
- More: CPDLC Gotcha: Clearance Busts
- More: US: 5G Rollout Near Airports Delayed Until 2023