FAA Takes Major Step in Next Generation Air/Ground Communications Program

The U.S. Department of Transportation`s Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) has established
government//industry agreements with three companies for the
development of technology that integrates digital voice and data
into air/ground communications.

Under the agreements, Rockwell Collins Commercial Systems,
Melbourne, FL; Honeywell Aerospace Electronic Systems,
Redmond, WA; and Avidyne Corp., Lincoln, MA, will develop VHF
Digital Link Mode-3 (VDL-3) avionics.  The FAA will partially fund
industry development of the airborne components of the Next
Generation Air/Ground Communications (NEXCOM) program, which
will enhance safety by replacing the ground radio system
currently used for air traffic control communications with
state-of-the-art digital technology.

Rockwell Collins and Honeywell will incorporate VDL-3 technology
to extend existing VHF digital radio multimode capabilities for
commercial air carriers.  Avidyne Corp. will develop VDL-3
avionics for general aviation. Within the next few months, the
FAA will establish an agreement for the development of VDL-3
avionics for business jets.

The agreements will ensure availability of VDL-3 avionics to
support the NEXCOM System Demonstration Program, which is
scheduled for completion by the end of 2004. This program
consists of a series of three demonstrations designed to illustrate
the increasing maturity of VDL-3 technology. The agreements also
will ensure that VDL-3 avionics equipment will be available to the
aviation community when the NEXCOM system is implemented in
the latter part of 2009.
The NEXCOM system will enhance the FAA`s ability to meet
expanding air traffic control communication demands.