Eurocontrol's roll-out of controller/pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) under the Link 2000+ programme is gathering pace, with Boeing certificating Rockwell Collins' datalink equipment for delivery in new Next Generation 737s.

Air Europa has taken delivery of the first two new 737NGs equipped with CPDLC capability under Eurocontrol's Pioneer programme. Under the incentive scheme, the European agency is paying for the installation of datalink equipment on up to 150 aircraft to kick-start the use of CPDLC in its Maastricht upper airspace region.

Other Pioneer airlines include Air Berlin, which will receive its first 737NG with CPDLC in January, says Jim Grace, Collins' datalink programme manager. Airbus Transport International will have CPDLC certificated on its five A300-600ST Belugas by year-end, and is among eight operators that have committed to the Pioneer scheme, he says.

SAS has retrofitted 10 737NGs with CPDLC since receiving supplemental type certification in December, and Grace says Lufthansa Technik is working on installing a datalink on FedEx's European fleet of Airbus A310s - none of them funded under the Pioneer scheme. Finnair is the latest to join the programme, with a commitment to equip at least 20 A320s. Airbus will certificate the upgrade by the end of next year.

While Europe is moving ahead with CPDLC, the US Federal Aviation Administration has deferred deployment for budget reasons and shut down its trial in Miami airspace at the beginning of October. Some of the datalink-equipped US aircraft, including American Airlines Boeing 767s, will continue using CPDLC in Europe.



Source: Flight International