Non-AOC Operators Task Force

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The Datalink Support Group (DSG) has established the Non AOC Operators Task Force to address the difficulties reported by some Aircraft Operators who only use datalink for ATC purposes (and do not have a contract with a CSP to cover AOC exchanges) in achieving datalink ATN/VDL Mode 2 datalink connectivity and using the service to participate in Controller-Pilot Datalink Communication (CPDLC).

It likely that such operators may have encountered obstacles in connecting to the network, or may be connecting without the benefit of VDL multi-frequency operation, and thus be susceptible to degraded datalink performance as load on the network progressively grows.

The issue has been discussed for many years and the DSG non AOC Contract TF aims to examine the relevant issues (technical as well as non-technical) and propose solutions as needed.

The TF has already developed Guidance Material for such operators addressing the issues affecting Non-AOC operators in connecting to ATN/VDL Mode 2 and using data link services. A new version (v2.0) has been released and can be found in the Guidance Material.

In addition, EUROCONTROL, in conjunction with the TF members and in particular the communication service providers and avionic vendors, is proposing this Fast-Track Initiative (FTI) to test potential solutions to these problems in a small scale environment and help to validate approaches for wider deployment. The objective of the FTI is to offer support to participating operators to achieve optimal ATN/VDL network connectivity, including the operation of VDL multi-frequency protocols, and thus accelerate growth in the number of Non-AOC aircraft successfully performing CPDLC, for the benefit of all airspace users.

Participation in the initiative will be entirely voluntary. Operators electing to join the initiative will benefit from

• targeted support by technical experts to achieve optimal connectivity

• investigation of any issues encountered

• advice on configuration of avionics

• for operators already connecting to the network, support to achieve VDL multi-frequency operations, if not presently benefiting from it, ensuring that their datalink capability and benefit are optimised.

The FTI initiative will be coordinated centrally by EUROCONTROL and participating operators can expect to interact predominantly with a EUROCONTROL datalink expert, supported where necessary by technical specialists from other partners (such as service providers and vendors). On first joining the initiative, operators will be asked to complete a simple proforma for each airframe to be enrolled, providing details about the aircraft registration and its avionics, as well as contacts within the operator. These details will be shared with the communication service providers for the purpose of facilitating connectivity and monitoring datalink performance. Operators will be expected to cooperate with EUROCONTROL and/or its partners in the investigation and resolution of issues encountered, but will not be under any further obligation. The initiative will focus above all on seeking pragmatic solutions to meet its objectives. Lessons learnt will be captured and incorporated into Guidance Material for the benefit of other Non-AOC operators seeking to connect to the ATN/VDL network and perform CPDLC in the future. A User's Manual of the FTI participants is being developed to describe the ways of working, provide the templates for the required information and provide general guidance. The released draft (v1.0) is available for reference (FTI User's Manual).

The FTI will start operations in October 2021 with a limited number of participants. The progress and potential expansion of the FTI (considering the resources available) will be evaluated and disucssed in the TF meetings.

Operators without an AOC contract who are interested in participating in this initiative are invited to contact [email protected].