Communications play a vital role in air navigation. They provide contact between the aircraft and the ground – keeping aircraft safe and ensuring efficient aircraft flow. They also provide the aeronautical and weather information critical to good decision making.
Since the 1990s there has been significant progress in the development of digital communications technology. New Southern Sky will introduce new communications protocols, and technologies, such as data-link and SATVOICE. We will also monitor international developments to ensure any changes we make here are compatible with global standards.
Aviation communications have been dominated by radio since the middle of last century. Some countries are considering the introduction of domestic data-link (digital messaging). However New Zealand’s current radio coverage and traffic volumes are unlikely to justify this transition for some time. On-going maintenance of the very high frequency (VHF) radio network is therefore a key element for New Southern Sky.
A number of complementary communications technologies will be explored further over the coming years. Data-link technology will be extended to some ground-ground communications (such as departure clearances) and the technology as a whole will be reviewed in the future. SATVOICE (satellite voice communication) technology is already installed in many aircraft, and New Southern Sky anticipates this technology being accepted as a primary means of voice communication in oceanic airspace.
Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) will also be introduced to enable linking to remote sites and for ground communication. Internet Protocol is being developed for aircraft applications but is not anticipated to be viable until after 2016. Exchange of messages and digital data between aviation users will be made more efficient through the transition to the Air Traffic Service Message Handling System (AMHS) and ultimately to the Aeronautical Telecommunication Network (ATN).
A key challenge in the future is communications for Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS). Remotely Piloted Aircraft policy considerations will need to include communications requirements to enable these aircraft to integrate into the system.