Arinc has won the Eurocontrol contract to provide controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) service for its Maastricht upper air centre. A network of 12 VHF datalink Mode 2 ground stations will provide coverage above flight level 245 beginning in October.

Eurocontrol is encouraging airlines to equip for CPDLC by paying for the required software upgrades on up to 100 aircraft. Lufthansa and SAS plan to equip. The European air traffic control authority is also offering discounts on en route charges for aircraft equipped to use the digital aeronautical telecommunications network. Eurocontrol plans to upgrade six centres to use CPDLC.

The US Federal Aviation Administration, which has cut back its datalink plans because airlines are not equipping fast enough, wants to follow Europe's lead and offer incentives to use CPDLC - not through direct subsidies, but by reserving airspace for suitably equipped aircraft.

"Operators that equip their aircraft with the improved technologies must be permitted to reap the benefits of their investments," says FAA administrator Marion Blakey.

Source: Flight International