Pilots Encouraged To Text And Fly With New Communication System

CHICAGO (CBS) – The term “Don’t Text and Drive” is used quite a bit these days, but pilots at O’Hare and Midway will soon be encouraged to “Text and Fly.”

Data Communications, is a new system pilots are using to communicate with air traffic controllers at the touch of a button, WBBM’s Andy Dahn reports.

Joe Schwieterman, a Transportation Expert at DePaul University, said the system may not be an easy sell to the public, especially passengers. But it will have its benefits.

“On the runway, even saving five to 10 seconds has a massive effect on congestion,” Schwieterman said. “Verbal communication is time intensive, tedious. This breaks through that and keeps the take-offs moving.”

The Federal Aviation Administration said the new system benefits are to reduce the chance of miscommunication and speed up the process of clearing runways.

Data Communications plans to help airlines stay on schedule, help deliver packages on time and help passengers get off the tarmac, into the air and onto their destination more quickly.

The system is already in use at 45 U.S. airports.

The equipment installation of Data Communications should be complete between October and November for both O’Hare and Midway Airports, FAA said. Controllers are already training for the new technology.

By the end of 2016, FAA plans to have Data Communications operating its service in more than 50 air traffic control towers.

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