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I'm confused about Future Air Navigation System (FANS) and Controller–pilot data link communications (CPDLC). Someone said FANS includes CPDLC, another said it does not.

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Someone said FANS includes CPDLC, another said it does not.

It depends on the region and/or airplane generation.

There is the ICAO-compliant CPDLC used in Europe (via ATN-B1), and there is the Oceanic/US CPDLC (via ACARS).

  • A plane fitted with FANS 1/A+ has the Oceanic/US CPDLC, but not the European one.
  • New long-range planes like the 787 and A350 use FANS 2/B, which has both CPDLCs.$^a$

enter image description here

$^a$ This integration may be offered as a retrofit if it is possible. For example for Airbus – using Airbus' lingo – the A+B package was first introduced on the A350, then became available as a retrofit on the A380 (see slide below by Airbus).

enter image description here
(Airbus via ICAO)


For a brief historical context, see the history section I put together here.

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