The US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Data Communications (Data Comm) system, which is a part of the agency’s NextGen technology, has become operational at Washington Dulles International Airport, Virginia.

Developed with an aim to reduce flight delays and improve safety at airports, the new technology enables communications between air traffic controllers and pilots via text message.

To be installed at 56 airports across the US by the end of 2016, Data Comm enables controllers at airport air traffic control towers to send digital text-based messages on flight clearance information to the pilots.

"Data Comm will allow passengers to get off the tarmac, into the air and to their destinations more quickly."

Flight crews can also store information in the aircraft’s flight management system.

Federal Aviation Administration NextGen assistant administrator Jim Eck said: “There is tremendous benefit in this change in the way pilots and air traffic controllers communicate.

“Data Comm will allow passengers to get off the tarmac, into the air and to their destinations more quickly.

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“Airlines will be able to stay on schedule and packages will be delivered on time.”

FAA said that the existing equipment installed on most of the aircraft would be sufficient to perform Data Comm functions.

By replacing voice communications during departure clearance, Data Comm is expected to save operators more than $10bn over a period of 30 years.

With the technology, FAA also aims to save nearly $1bn in its future operating costs.

The US’ George Bush Intercontinental and William P. Hobby Airport were the first airports to install the Data Comm technology.