FAA to Allow Air Traffic Control to Text Pilots

Coming soon–a communication tool that will speed up the rate of communication between the air traffic control and the pilots.

Text messaging.

From USA Today’s Charisse Jones:

Data Comm is the latest piece of NextGen,a program that is seeking new air-traffic control equipment and procedures to make air travel safer and more efficient. The new messaging system can whittle the process of clearing a flight for takeoff from minutes to mere seconds, as tasks that once involved a verbal back and forth, writing and typing are reduced to a few clicks of a button.

Her article goes into the technology, which is a cool read.  But she also quotes the FAA administrator explaining something that makes a lot of sense–that this will cut down on the back-and-forth the same way texting has cut down on the time it takes to ask a friend what time you are meeting.

If you call, you exchange pleasantries, talk about the weather, then eventually make your way to the conversation.

But texting, you can just say, hey, what time tonight?  And get 7:30pm back in response.

I doubt they are talking too many pleasantries that are eating up time.   But I’m sure sending a message that just says  “Cleared” allows the ATC to quickly convey the message and work on conveying other messages while waiting for the pilot’s response.

But hopefully it won’t turn into this:

Pilot:  plane  question mark


Air traffic controller:  thumbs up

Pilot:  clapping hands

Beyond this, I feel like texting technology is under-utilized.  I’m getting very impatient with 911 texting services, because I think that can save a lot of lives.

(People have been making fun of texting 911, and there was an urban legend that someone was texting emojis of fire instead of telling 911 what was happening, but I think in a situation where you can’t say what’s happening out loud, it can be a life saver.)

About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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