New O'Hare technology aims to shorten flights, improve communication

For decades, air traffic controllers at O'Hare have managed ground traffic using voice commands, but now, a new system called DataComm lets controllers send text messages to onboard computers. 

The new system will help avoid delays that occur when pilots waiting in line for takeoff have to give up their spot to listen to and put a new flight plan in place.

“So it’s a lot safer, and it’s a lot quicker, gets us off the ground a lot quicker, which helps us with fuel savings and also the passengers really like it,” Chuck Stewart from United Airlines said.  

When numerous planes are stacked up for takeoff and bad weather hits, text messaging lets controllers re-route all of them at once, instead of one at a time.

By 2019, the DataComm system will be sending messages to planes in the air.

“In that phase of the program, we're going to be able to allow controllers to do re-routes to multiple aircraft around weather, it’s going to be a huge, huge huge deal,” Jesse Wijntjes, a FAA program manager, said.

The DataComm sys