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Testing of IFR Clearance Delivery System to Mobile Devices Begins at HEF

May 10, 2018

MITRE Corp. and ForeFlight have teamed up to begin testing a system to deliver IFR clearance information to mobile devices, which will enable pilots to read their expected clearance before contacting ATC.

The tests will take place at Virginia’s Manassas Regional Airport (HEF) from mid-May through the end of July.

Users of ForeFlight based at HEF will receive an email invitation to participate in the testing. Pilots who have opted into the voluntary test will receive an email with their expected clearance information approximately 30 minutes before their proposed departure time. Existing procedures to contact HEF clearance delivery prior to taxi, and request clearance verbally, will still be required.

NBAA supports testing options for "data comm-like" capabilities, such as that planned for HEF. With pre-departure clearance/data comm clearance (PDC/DCL) equipment available at only 57 airports nationwide, development of a system that utilizes mobile devices would be a “win-win,” said Heidi Williams, NBAA’s director of air traffic services and infrastructure.

“This is something that could enable service similar to PDC/DCL to business aircraft operators at many airports around the country where PDC/DCL capabilities currently do not exist,” said Williams. “NBAA would definitely like to see this capability expanded in light of the limited availability of CPDLC PDC/CDL because it would not require additional infrastructure.”

Paul Diffenderfer, MITRE principal ATM advisor, said the purpose of the project is to eventually integrate pre-departure IFR clearance and information exchange capability into existing pilot apps.

"Today, pilots can do flight planning on their mobile devices, and with the push of a button, they can load the route information into the GPS,” he said. “In the future, once the IFR clearance information is delivered to the integrated pilot app, the pilot would be able to push it into the avionics without the possibility of introducing error. The long-term vision is that in addition to clearance delivery, IFR release and cancellation could be negotiated through mobile devices."