EUROCAE and RTCA Organised a Joint Summit on Aviation Connectivity Followed by 400 Professionals

Hundreds of attendees from all around the world joined the "Aviation Summit: Future Connectivity” on 25 October 2023, bringing together leading experts and stakeholders from the aviation industry for discussions on the pivotal topic of datalink communication in aviation.

As the aviation industry continues to evolve, the significance of efficient and secure communication through data becomes increasingly apparent. The joint EUROCAE/RTCA summit served as a strategic platform for industry players to address the challenges, advancements, and opportunities presented by datalink technology in modern aviation, taking as a starting point the White Paper published by EASA, FAA, Airbus and Boeing.

“The event created an opportunity to hear directly from and collaborate with datalink experts and professionals from around the world to ensure our standards development efforts continually evolve to represent the industry’s needs”, says Anna von Groote, Director General at EUROCAE. “Standards are just an enabler – but an essential one to move from innovation to implementation, and RTCA/EUROCAE stand ready to support any standardisation activity when the time comes, but this is ultimately a decision of the industry to initiate when ready”.

 “As the experts have explained during the sessions, many great initiatives have already been started, but much more has to be done. This Aviation Summit helped us to steer our standardisation activities to remain on the forefront of aviation, ensuring up to date, future proof and essential standards contributing to safety in aviation”, says Terry McVenes, President and CEO of RTCA.


Summary of sessions:

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency, the Federal Aviation Administration, Airbus and Boeing have launched a joint cooperation initiative to rethink aviation connectivity, defining a blueprint for the modernisation and harmonisation of the aviation data communication landscape by 2035. Their white paper offers a jointly proposed vision for the future aviation connectivity landscape which is based on the combination of aviation specific solutions. All four organisations were represented in the opening session, and demonstrated a shared commitment to ensure that modern air-ground communications will meet tomorrows requirements. This summit represented an opportunity for the wider aviation community to engage on the ideas brought forward by the white paper.

After hearing from the authors of a blueprint for the modernisation and harmonisation of the aviation data communication landscape by 2035, we continued the conversation by exploring what comes next after new technologies are initially standardized. Specific to the challenges of having the new datalink standards accepted worldwide, the panel described the plans to validate the requirements in operational settings and identified the challenges ahead. We also learned about the plan for Hyperconnected ATM and its goal to maintain the safety services in a more complex environment.   

Protecting Communication in an Unsecure World: Datalink connectivity provides opportunities for innovation, and maintaining safety, but a reliance on connectivity may impact security assurance. A system is as secure as its weakest link, so collaboration across the industry is essential. The panel discussed the main risks and issues to be addressed, and emphasised that ‘trust’ in the connectivity is essential.

The use of data link technology in aviation, specifically Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC), has been instrumental in improving sustainability and efficiency. In Europe, the Maastricht Upper Area Control Centre implemented CPDLC 20 years ago and recently upgraded to ATS B2 in 2022, enhancing communication between controllers and aircraft. This has resulted in benefits for air navigation service providers and operators, leading to better air traffic management, improved safety, enhanced flight efficiency, and cost savings. In the United States, the FAA Data Comm program has deployed CPDLC capabilities at multiple control centers and towers, leading to increased efficiency in the National Airspace System, reduced fuel consumption, and lowered CO2 emissions.

EUROCAE and RTCA will evaluate the results of the discussions to help shape and improve the existing standard and future standardisation work programme to support future connectivity needs.

If you weren’t available to attend, visit EUROCAE and RTCA on YouTube in December to watch the recordings.