Clearing the Air: crucial questions answered about En Route FANS CPDLC Compliance

As air traffic continues to increase, the airspace over North America and the Atlantic is getting more crowded. This growth is driving the adoption of new technologies - like Future Air Navigation System (FANS) Controller pilot data link communications (CPDLC) - to help maximize the number of flights possible given the limited amount airspace.

Many business aviation operators in North America have been using data link communications for some time, and the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) effort to roll out En Route Data Link in the continental U.S. at the end of 2018, is an example of the move to maximize national airspace.

Christian Renneissen, Rockwell Collins’ senior flight operations trainer for ARINCDirectSM, has been working closely with the FAA’s Data Comm Implementation team for some time. "Aircraft operators who are equipped with FANS CPDLC technology now will gain additional advantages,” said Renneissen. “The available airspace they can use with this system is being extended across parts of the United States. However, operators are looking for guidance on exactly what’s required for compliance and how to take advantage of this change.”

To help clarify the situation, Renneissen addresses what operators need to know to successfully navigate these new regulatory waters.

Q: What is happening now in the U.S. regarding the FAA’s En Route FANS CPDLC rollout?

Christian Renneisen (CR): The United States is rolling out En Route FANS CPDLC by the end of 2018, for all equipped, trained and permitted operators. The FAA’s Advisory Circular AC 90-117 outlines the requirements for U.S. operators to conduct data link operations and makes provisions for the use of En Route FANS CPDLC.

Q: What equipment is required for U.S. domestic En Route FANS CPDLC?

CR: Right now, the equipment required is VDL Mode 2, indicated as "J4" in Field 10a of the ICAO Flight Plan. Currently, this is the only permitted media type as per paragraph 3.3.4 of AC 90-117.

Q: How can an operator participate in U.S. domestic En Route FANS CPDLC?

CR: If the operator is properly equipped, trained and permitted, the operator may file "DAT/FANSE" in Field 18 of the ICAO Flight Plan. This entry indicates to the FAA that the operator is looking to participate in U.S. domestic En Route FANS CPDLC. Remember that the FANS logon is “KUSA” for the entire country.

Q: What if an operator wants to use domestic En Route FANS CPDLC and is already using FANS DCL?

CR: There are multiple scenarios addressing the relationship between FANS DCL and En Route FANS CPDLC. The majority of operations will fall into one of the scenarios mentioned below:

  1. The operator uses FANS DCL via the "DAT/1FANS2PDC" preference in Field 18 of the ICAO Flight Plan. In that case, the operator will want to update the preference to "DAT/1FANSE2PDC".
  2. The operator uses FANS DCL via the FAA's Subscriber Database. In that case, the operator will want to add the entry "DAT/FANSE" in Field 18 of the ICAO Flight Plan.

Q: Which airspace in the U.S. is enabled for En Route FANS CPDLC?

CR: As airspace in the U.S. becomes available for domestic En Route FANS CPDLC, operators will be looking for coverage maps so they can plan their routes most effectively. ARINCDirectSM can display FANS CPDLC coverage. To see which U.S. airspace is enabled on an ARINCDirect flight plan’s route plot, users select "Layers", open the "Communications" tab, and toggle on the "FANS CPDLC Coverage" layer. This will provide the coverage areas available.

Q: How can an operator logon for U.S. domestic En Route FANS CPDLC?

CR: During the rollout phase, some airspace will be enabled for FANS CPDLC, while other airspace will not. Therefore, an operator may encounter one of the following scenarios:

  1. Departure from a FANS DCL airport within En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace:
    In this case, the logon to “KUSA” for receiving the FANS DCL will remain active after departure.
  2. Departure from a non-DCL airport (to include PDC only airports) within En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace:
    The operator may logon to “KUSA” at any time, the CPDLC connection will become active after departure, and the crew is notified via a welcome message uplink.
  3. Departure from a DCL airport outside of En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace:
    The FANS CPDLC connection to “KUSA” used to deliver your DCL will terminate approximately seven minutes after departure. The operator may initiate a new logon to “KUSA” immediately, thereafter. The logon will be accepted, however it will remain idle until entering En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace. Once the CPDLC connection becomes active, the crew is notified via a welcome message uplink.
  4. Departure from a non-DCL airport (to include PDC only airports) outside of En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace:
    The operator may logon to “KUSA” at any time. The logon will be accepted, however remain idle until entering En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace. Once the CPDLC connection becomes active, the crew is notified via a welcome message uplink.

Q: What if the aircraft transitions from En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace into non-Data Link airspace with an active CPDLC connection?

CR: The active FANS CPDLC connection will terminate approximately seven minutes after exiting En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace.

Q: What if the aircraft transitions into or out of foreign FANS CPDLC enabled airspace?

CR: Domestic En Route FANS CPDLC enabled airspace will be seamlessly integrated with foreign (Canadian) and Oceanic FANS CPDLC enabled airspace. The Next Data Authority (NDA) functionality will retain the logon from one FANS CPDLC enabled airspace into the next, unless the aircraft is transitioning through airspace which is not enabled. Please keep in mind that the Oceanic Clearance will not be delivered via FANS CPDLC. The crew must continue to request the clearance via AFIS/ACARS or obtain it via voice.

For more information on exactly what is required for compliance with the En Route Data Link mandate, you can contact ARINCDirect at ad-training@rockwellcollins.com.

Story posted: June 7, 2018

Share

Follow Rockwell Collins on