Airbus and SITA have conducted the first flight test of a VHF Digital Link (VDL) service, paving the way for the availability of the higher-speed data communication service on Airbus aircraft next year.

The flight test recently took place on an Airbus A320, flying from Toulouse, over Lyon, Geneva, Orly and Brest and returning to Toulouse. Data communications were conducted at 31.5kbit/s, compared with the current analogue signals of 2.4kbit/s, over SITA's new VHF ground station to a host computer at Airbus' laboratory.

The VDL protocol, dubbed Aviation VHF Link Control, is being implemented initially to carry aircraft communications and addressing and reporting system (ACARS) messages. Airbus and SITA have been working for more than a year-and-a-half to develop the link, according to SITA's director aircraft operations and navigation services Philip Clinch.

Source: Flight International