Apart from the demonstrated robustness which has made HFDL a standard medium for the support of long-haul operations all over the world, there is also a compelling case for its use in short-haul and regional operations into areas where VHF datalink is not available.
In exchange for a comparatively modest investment in HFDL equipment and service, carriers can enjoy the cost savings and operational efficiencies already proved in the VHF domain.
All that’s missing now is HFDL equipment optimised for the narrowbodies, regional jets and turboprops. And that will surely be forthcoming when the carriers signal their broad commitment to HFDL by, for instance, specifying datalink capability for the mandatory HF voice installations on new aircraft destined to fly oceanic routes.
HF datalink is delivering the goods every day on the intercontinental routes – now it’s ready to fill the gaps in datalink coverage that affect the bottom lines of short-haul and regional carriers.
In addition, some carriers choose HFDL because HFDL retrofit installation costs are a fraction of the cost of satellite and far less intrusive. If the aircraft already has HF voice capability, then an HFDL enhancement is minor. Satellite retrofit requires the installation of an antenna, which requires a hole be cut into the aircraft skin. On top of that all the satellite avionics will need to be installed thereby increasing the cost of installation.
If the aircraft has HF voice and HFDL, then flight crews have a long-range voice and data capability providing for highly reliable communications.