Pilots Are Saving Time with a New Texting System

Published: 06-29-2016
A new text-based system by NextGen is designed to make traveling safer and more efficient.

Pilots, you are now free to text in the cockpit.

Since March 2016, select airlines have been leveraging the new texting system, Data Comm, when departing from Los Angeles International Airport to save six to 12 minutes on their departure times.

FAA officials are encouraging the use of this technology, stating that it “revolutionizes communications between air traffic controllers and pilots by replacing some traditional voice communications with digital information exchanges – like texting versus talking over the phone.”

Data Comm offers many advantages over traditional radio interaction. Instead of relaying multiple verbal messages, flight plans are texted from air traffic control to the cockpit, and are directly uploaded to the plane’s computer with a touch of a button.

“This switch from voice to text speeds up communications,” said Glen Martin, FAA regional administrator for the Western Pacific Region. “It will allow the controllers to send text instructions to several aircraft at once and that increases safety by reducing the risk of miscommunication.”

According to United Parcel Service pilot Capt. Ed Faith, every party benefits from the use of the new system.

“Text-based departures save critical time,” Faith said. “The time savings also translate into fuel efficiency. We save up to 15 gallons of fuel for each minute we eliminate off the departure procedures.”

Currently 21 carriers are using the system at LAX, which includes Air New Zealand, Air Tahiti Nui, AirBridge, American, British Airways, Cargolux, Delta, Emirates, Etihad, Executive Jet, FedEx, Hawaiian, Korean, Qatar, Scandinavian, Singapore, Southwest, Sunset, United, UPS, and Virgin America.

Since April 2013, Data Comm has been installed in 29 airports around the world, and is expected to be installed in every airport in California by the end of July and in 56 airports by year’s end.

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