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Brussels, 16 January 2009

A strategic milestone for the modernisation of air traffic management

Today, the European Commission agreed on new rules for the use of data link in air traffic management (ATM) systems in Europe. Data link technology revolutionizes communications between air traffic controllers and pilots through supplementing voice communications with an air-ground data link. The set of common technical and procedural rules adopted today are essential to modernize air traffic management systems within the Single European Sky.

From 1 January 2011, all new aircraft will be equipped with data link technology while existing aircraft need to have it installed by February 2015. Data link technology allows the ground-air transmission of written messages between the air traffic controller and the aircraft's pilot. Data link services shall be provided in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom by February 2013, while the rest of Europe by February 2015.

The deployment of data link services significantly improves Europe's airspace capacity: an 11% increase is expected once 75% of aircraft are equipped with this technology.

Benefits are valued at € 875 million by 2025. The deployment of data link technology will also improve safety by reducing the risk of vocal misunderstandings through the use of written communication between pilots and controllers.

This promising new legislation complements four Regulations adopted in 2006 and 2007, and contributes to the implementation of the SESAR Master Plan.

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