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IFALPA Safety Bulletin: Potential CPDLC Message Delivery Latency

IFALPA has been made aware that flight crews have no access to information indicating the time of transmission of uplinked CPDLC messages. The possibility of a delayed message cannot be ruled out which could lead to an old clearance being delivered past its validity time or to the wrong aircraft. 

This issue has been identified due to a report of a delayed message delivery in the North Atlantic as a result of a now corrected software problem associated with Iridium CPDLC communications. Mitigation measures are being developed to rule out this possibility, however, in the meantime IFALPA suggests the following in the interests of safety: Crews should exercise caution when receiving a Flight Level change via CPDLC that is not in response to a FL change request by the crew. 

IFALPA suggests that Flight Crews clarify any CPDLC clearance of a FL change that is not associated with a Flight Crew’s request.  The clearance clarification can be done by “free text” in CPDLC or by “voice”. 

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