United Airlines has become the first airline to commit to equipping its aircraft with digital avionics under the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) NextGen Data Communications Equipage Incentive Program. The announcement was made during the Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) conference being held October 20-23 at the Gaylord National in Washington, DC. Harris’ Booth is #511.
Harris Corporation (NYSE:HRS) is leading a team to provide the integration and engineering services for the program that adds digital text to the current voice-only messaging for pilot-to-controller communications. The transition will automate many of today’s routine air traffic control (ATC) and en route voice communications with specialized data messaging. The program is to ensure more rapid and precise communications and improve arrival and departure routes— saving fuel and reducing emissions.
United plans to equip up to 397 of its aircraft over the next six years with avionics equipment necessary to provide the pilot-to-controller digital communications.
“United has always been a technology leader in commercial aviation,” said Howard Attarian, United’s senior vice president of Flight Operations. “We are excited to be at the forefront of this transition to a new era in air travel, which uses digital technology to improve airspace efficiencies, reduce emissions, and save money.”
Harris also has established an FAA funded airline outreach initiative to help facilitate avionics equipage as part of the Data Communications Integrated Services (DCIS) program and United is equipping its aircraft under this initiative.
“This is a key milestone in the effort to move from traditional ATC to more active air traffic management,” said John O’Sullivan, vice president, NextGen Initiatives for Civil Programs, Harris Government Communications Systems. “By being the first to participate in the DCIS outreach program, United is leading the way to data communications implementation and the realization of the significant benefits offered by NextGen transformation.” Harris is demonstrating the pilot-to-controller data communications capability as part of its ATCA exhibit.