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Trial operations of Data Link Communication at Mumbai airport

Union Minister of Civil Aviation Ajit Singh launched the trial operations during his recent visit to Mumbai on 18th June, 2012.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Jun 21, 2012, 12.20 PM IST
NEW DELHI: Pre-departure clearance to aircraft by Air Traffic Control in the country is all set for a major technology upgradation. Airports Authority of India (AAI) at Mumbai Airport has begun trial operations of Data Link Communication for pre-departure clearance which will eventually replace the present system of pre-departure clearances being given using voice communication.

Union Minister of Civil Aviation Ajit Singh launched the trial operations during his recent visit to Mumbai on 18th June, 2012. Secretary, Civil Aviation Dr. Nasim Zaidi and Chairman, AAI Shri V.P. Agrawal were present on the occasion. The new system will eliminate possibility of human error and will enhance safety and efficiency of operations. Pre-departure clearance is an authorization issued by Air Traffic Control to the Pilot regarding the runway to be used, route to be flown from departure to destination and the cruising level that the aircraft is expected to maintain. At present, Air Traffic Controllers, on request from the Pilot of an aircraft, issue pre-departure clearance through voice communication using VHF radio from tower.

The Pilots are expected to read back the entire clearance to confirm correct receipt of the same, again through voice communication. Such a procedure for issue of pre-departure clearances using voice may lead to potential misunderstanding between the Pilot and the Controller. In addition, it also results in loss of valuable time for the Pilot waiting for his turn to get the clearance as it is not possible for more than one Pilot to talk to the Controller at a time. The cockpit communication workload and the Controller's communication workload are also considerably increased. The above limitations can be addressed by using Data link communication instead of voice. In the case of issue of pre-departure clearances using Data Link, the Pilot requests the clearance using the Flight Management Computer in the cockpit.

The controller gets the information about the aircraft requesting the clearance on his work-station. The Controller selects the appropriate clearance from the data base and at the press of a button the information goes to the cockpit of the aircraft via Data Link. Getting the information both on screen and print via Data Link confirms issue/receipt of correct clearance, saves time for the Pilot and eliminates human errors thereby enhancing safety and operational efficiency. As the Pilots do not have to wait in the queue for obtaining clearance and many aircraft can simultaneously request and obtain clearances, delay to the aircraft is considerably reduced thereby facilitating on-time departure for passengers.

In addition to Mumbai, such Data Link Departure Clearance (DLC) Systems are being deployed at Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad International Airports. The minister while launching the trial operations of the Data Link Departure Clearance system at Mumbai appreciated this initiative which is the first of its kind by Airports Authority of India.
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