What is Data link?

Also known as ACARS® (Aircraft Communication, Addressing and Reporting System) and VDLM2 (VHF Digital Link Mode, Collins Aerospace ARINCDirect Data Link is the industry standard for air-to-ground communications.

Utilized by nearly every commercial airline, ARINCDirect Data Link is now being deployed on over half of the world’s business jet deliveries.

The ARINCDirect Data Link system consists of an integrated worldwide network of VHF and HF ground stations, along with Inmarsat and Iridium satellite networks to provide seamless data communications to aircraft anywhere in the world.


Why do we need Data link?

Improve safety and accuracy. Data link equipped aircraft can receive updates of ever-changing weather conditions while enroute, including, yet not limited to, detailed text and graphical weather, turbulence data, icing information and severe weather information and forecasts.

The use of data link in the cockpit reduces workload through automation and greatly reduces errors. Flight plans, Pre-Departure Clearances (PDC/DCL) and Oceanic Clearances (OCD) are obtained and loaded into the FMS automatically.  Digital ATIS can be retrieved hours before conventional VHF methods.

Data link allows for increased speed and accuracy over congested voice methods, all while lessening workload in the cockpit.

Increase operational efficiency. In addition to supplementing radar data, data link equipped aircraft have the increased benefit of automatically reporting position, actual on/off events and accelerate ETAs. This data can be used for flight tracking purposes, giving those on the ground a precise depiction of your current location and expected arrival time.  Streamline your operating procedures with the ability to uplink flight plans directly into the FMS.

With the ability to send messages to and from dispatch, FBOs and trip support providers, you can stay informed with ATC information, weather considerations and ground intelligence through every stage of the flight.

“Future proof” your investment. ACARS and VDLM2 are the only data link systems approved for delivery of Air Traffic Service messages. Aircraft that are data link equipped tend to have higher resale values than those not equipped.


Advantages of Data Link

Data Link continues to be a powerful tool that promotes higher situational awareness and increased safety.

Key advantages include:

  • Out/Off/On/In (OOOI) times
  • Maintenance reports
  • Airframe fatigue
  • Higher-accuracy position reporting
  • Text weather (METARs/TAFs/NOTAMs/PIREPs)
  • Aircraft-to-aircraft messaging
  • Engine/airframe health and fault reports
  • Flight Plans (we support a number of companies, including Collins Aerospace ARINCDirect, Jeppesen, PPS, Iberia, Skyplan and Universal)
  • Departure and oceanic clearances
  • Automatic position reporting
  • Gate notification
  • Concierge and message delivery services
  • Fuel and service requests
  • Digital Airport Terminal Information System (D-ATIS) and other pre-FANS services
  • Email-to-aircraft
  • Future Air Navigation System (FANS)

Because of its high-reliability and accuracy, data link is able to provide Air Traffic Services (ATS) messaging. These “safety of flight” messages are an integral part of all aircraft communications, including both pre-FANS and FANS services. Collins Aerospace offers a complete suite of both services.

Pre-FANS messaging consists of:

  • Pre-Departure Clearance (PDL) and Datalink Clearance (DCL)
  • Oceanic Clearance Delivery (OCD)
  • Digital ATIS (DATIS)
  • Terminal Weather Information for Pilots (TWIP)
  • North Atlantic Track (NAT) Messages

FANS messaging (both FANS-1/A and ATN FANS, as defined below) includes:

  • Automatic Dependent Surveillance (ADS)
  • Controller Pilot Data link Communications (CPDLC)

It has been over ten years since ARINC delivered the first CPDLC message to American Airlines, marking the start of a new era. In the years since, millions of messages have been successfully delivered to commercial, military and business aviation operators.


Transition to VHF Digital Link (VDL)

To meet the growing usage of data link, a faster more efficient network was developed. This network, the Aeronautical Telecommunication Network (ATN), was built to be more spectrally-efficient and meet the requirements for the delivery of Air Traffic Services (ATS) messages.

VHF Digital Link Mode 2 (VDLM2) is the ICAO name for the next generation bit-oriented air/ground VHF data communication sub-network defined in ATN and is the worldwide network for all ATN VHF messaging. With the capability to provide up to 20 times more speed than traditional ACARS links, VDLM2 has become the industry standard for data link messaging and upcoming mandates, such as Eurocontrol’s Link 2000+ program which takes effect in 2015.

VDLM2 provides:

  • Increased capacity, security, speed and networking capabilities over traditional ACARS (POA).
  • Reduced burden on traditional ACARS stations, allowing for increased data link traffic
  • Increased data transfer speeds and reliability
  • Transmission of Aeronautical Operational Control (AOC) messages and participation in ATC data link initiatives like Controller Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC)
  • Compliance with regulations and mandates; ability to use preferred airspace and save fuel, time and other costs

Regardless of whether the system is VHF, HF, or SATCOM-based, business aircraft are being equipped with data link at a record pace. Whether using the service to streamline operations, boost situational awareness or stay ahead of compliance mandates, Collins Aerospace ARINCDirect unleashes the full power and benefits of data link.