CPDLC – changing communications in the sky | Aviation


The history and development of CPDLC

The concept

The technologies that became CPDLC trace their origins back to experiments using teletype machines to transmit simple messages between ground stations and aircraft in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that a truly practical form of text communication came into being. 

The first steps

The Aviation Communication and Reporting System (ACARS) allowed airlines to send and receive short messages between aircraft and ground stations using VHF (Very High Frequency) or HF (High Frequency) radio links. ACARS was an important step in data link communications, and is still used today for non-operational messages like weather updates and maintenance reports.

A leap forward

The CPDLC concept was first proposed as part of the Future Air Navigation Systems (FANS) scheme in the 1980s. FANS was designed to improve communication and navigation capabilities for oceanic and remote airspace operations. In the 1990s, several trials of CPDLC were conducted, with airlines and air navigation service providers participating to test the system’s functionality and operational benefits. These trials took place in various regions worldwide, including the North Atlantic and Pacific airspace.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) recognized the potential benefits of CPDLC and began working on developing global standards for data link communications. The ICAO’s standard for CPDLC was first published in 2003 as part of the Aeronautical Telecommunication Network (ATN) framework.

Implementing CPDLC

From the mid-2000s onwards, various countries and air navigation service providers started implementing CPDLC in specific airspace regions. The North Atlantic region, in particular saw widespread adoption of CPDLC to improve communication in the busy transatlantic routes.

As technology advanced and more aircraft were equipped with data link communication capabilities, CPDLC continued to expand to other regions and continental…

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