The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, (EUROCONTROL) has moved a step closer towards implementing a single European sky by selecting SITA to provide aircraft data link communications services for its Maastricht upper area control centre in Belgium (MUACC).

SITA was selected following the recent adoption of the European commission regulations, which mandate data link communications for air traffic control to ease congested voice channels.

The majority of routine controller / pilot communications that are currently exchanged through voice radio-telephone will be migrated to data link message exchanges, similar to email in a move designed to boost air traffic control capacity.

The major benefit will be a significant increase in air traffic controllers’ capacity to handle aircraft and therefore increased overall airspace capacity with a reduction in flight delays.

SITA’s director of air traffic management, Akhil Sharma said that he was pleased to help service providers develop their plans to comply with the data link services mandate.

“SITA is pleased to have the confidence and trust of EUROCONTROL to provide data link communications services over the critical first two years of the mandate phase by which time we expect data link-equipped aircraft movements to be in the order of thousands per day,” Sharma said.

The MUAAC delivers air navigation services for the upper airspace of Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands and North West Germany. This will be the first geographic zone to benefit from the mandated implementation of controller-pilot data link communications (CPDLC) in European airspace.

The SITA data link communications service will enable the exchange of controller-pilot data link communications (CPDLC) messages over a VHF digital link mode 2 infrastructure between the MUACC air traffic controllers and suitably equipped aircraft within its airspace.

By Daniel Garrun.