The Federal Aviation Administration has said it expects to bring the Data Communication service to towers at 56 U.S. airports by the end of 2016 as part of the implementation of the Next Generation Air Transportation System program.
FAA said Data Comm is an air-to-ground data link service that works to help pilots and air traffic controllers send and receive flight instructions through digital text-based messages.
FAA collected operational data on the Data Comm service through trials at Memphis and Newark airports in Tennessee and New Jersey that concluded in January.
Trials showed that Data Comm prototype tools provided tower departure clearances at the two airports.
FAA has tapped Harris Corp. to provide Data Comm engineering and integration services and expects the contractor to complete work by the end of 2019.
The agency also expects initial en route Data Comm services to start in 2019 in order to allow in-flight aircraft to connect to 20 en route centers across the continental U.S.
FAA has partnered with the airline industry in an effort to equip 1,900 airplanes with Data Comm-based avionics systems by 2019.
According to FAA, 1,687 aircraft have been equipped with Data Comm systems as of July 13.