Delta adopts new technology for air traffic communication

Officials at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport are hoping that new technology for air traffic controllers will make for smoother travel.

The FAA calls it Data Comm, and it’s now used in 55 towers nationwide. The system is being adopted by all the major carriers, and it’s now in nearly half the Delta fleet.

By allowing for instant, email-like communication, the system speeds up departures and in-flight routes.

“They can now zap this to us over this data link and actually drive it right into my navigation system…draw a little white dash line on a new route [and] see if I'm ok with that…and a few button pushes and we're in business. So, it really reduces the delays,” said pilot Jon Pendleton.

During a test run on Tuesday, communication using the traditional system lasted more than three minutes, while the electronic system only took 15 seconds.

“For every one minute of improved taxi time in Delta’s system, we save 4.6 million gallons of fuel per year,” said Captain Rich Terry of Delta.