New Air Traffic Tech Could Reduce Delays at MSP

April 11, 2017 05:15 PM

New air traffic technology at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport will increase safety and reduce delays, according to Federal Aviation Administration officials. 

The technology, called Data Comm, eliminates voice communication between pilots and air traffic controllers, allowing controllers to text clearances and other flight information instead.


That can lead to a dramatic reduction in travel delays, FAA officials said. They cited an example in which two planes are in line for takeoff when a storm requires air traffic controllers to re-route them.

"The plane using voice has to wait for its new instructions and has to use existing two-way voice communications," officials explained in a press release announcing the new technology.

"This process can take 15 to 30 minutes longer, depending on how many aircraft are in line for departure."

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"You can imagine how much quicker it is just to zap a data message to someone," Delta Air Lines Pilot Jon Pendleton said Tuesday.

"It's no different than talking on the phone versus texting or email."

Data Comm has been in use at MSP since last November, and according to FAA officials, approximately one out of every 10 flights at the airport currently uses the technology.

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They expect that number to grow quickly, which Pendleton said would be just fine with him.

"You just take a few minutes of delays out here and there everywhere you can, and continue to make the system better and better."

Data Comm technology is now in 55 different airports. Since being installed at MSP, it's been used for roughly 1,900 flights per month.


Josh Rosenthal

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