Improved communication technology for aircraft

As from 5 February 2020, aircraft must be equipped with the appropriate electronic systems in order to fly above flight level 285 (above the altitude of 28.500 feet) in the European airspace. Exemptions exist for aircraft both reaching the end of their production life and produced in limited numbers, and for aircraft for which re-engineering costs would be disproportionate.

The new legal requirements enter into force for aircraft operators flying at high altitudes in the European airspace: the capacity to operate data link services. The deployment of this interoperable technology in Europe will improve the efficiency of communications between pilots and controllers. Ultimately, air traffic control safety and capacity will increase.

Data link services are communications between aircraft and ground conveyed through data links, complementing the traditional voice communications of air traffic control.

To provide concrete capacity increase, at least 75% of flights should be capable of operating data link services at high altitudes. Operational use of data link has increased steadily over the last years thanks to all stakeholders’ efforts to accelerate deployment and with substantial EU financial support.

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