FAA begins development on next-generation comm suite

FAA begins development on next-generation comm suite

The Federal Aviation Administration has negotiated agreements with three companies to develop onboard systems integrating digital voice and data for air and ground communications.

Avidyne Corp. of Lincoln, Mass.; Honeywell Aerospace Electronic Systems of Redmond, Wash.; and Rockwell Collins Commercial Systems of Melbourne, Fla.; will develop the VHF Digital Link Mode-3 (VDL-3) modules.

FAA's current system of air-ground communications uses VHF and UHF radio links to track aircraft in flight and at airports.

The VDL-3 systems are the airborne components of the agency's Next-Generation Air/Ground Communications System, FAA spokeswoman Tammy Jones said.

NEXCOM will improve FAA's ability to meet expanding air traffic control communications demands by making efficient use of the scarce radio spectrum available, she said.

The plan is to introduce digital voice capability and reduce frequency congestion. The new VDL-3 modules also will enhance safety by replacing analog radio systems with digital technology, Jones said.

The VDL-3 modules will provide multiple channels and accommodate both voice and data transmissions. They will also have the flexibility to determine how channel resources are applied for voice and data.

After the VDL-3 development phase, FAA will select one of the vendors to deploy the modules. FAA plans to implement NEXCOM in the latter part of 2009.

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