Air Traffic Controller Discussion With a Global Perspective
By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#493861 Dear friends,

in the past few days I had some time on my hands and I took the opportunity to donate it to VATSIM's members and create a CPDLC Quick Starter Manual. CPDLC is the acronym for Controller Pilot DataLink Communication.

While CPDLC and PDC are being used widely in the real world, at VATSIM it is just a minority of ATCOs and pilots. There is a functioning ACARS server free of charge, including several free clients that enable pilots and ATCOs to connect to this server, enabling them to perform CPDLC and PDC procedures in a professional way. I promise that it will make you smile, when you see it working on your computer! So far everyone who managed to get it going told me "how cool is this!?".

I figured that there are several factors that kept members away from using CPDLC: installing and setting up the clients appears to be a complex task, using a tool on top of your radar or flight simulator software does not seem to be attractive and those CPDLC.procedures sound complicated.

To address some of these concerns I created this CPDLC Quick Starter Manual, featuring 2 standalone clients for pilots and 2 clients for ATCOs - one being a standalone program, the other a Plugin for EuroScope (PDC only at this time).
All steps from download through installation, setting up and operation are covered. It's all about CPDLC, PDC and ACARS.

Current is Edition 1.2.2 | 25 November 2016

The main difference is that during the setup of Hoppie's ACARS Airborne Client you do not outquote the program "wfacars" anymore, but start it up. It is required to send proper position reports to ATC. Should you have installed the before mentioned Client according to a previous version of the CPDLC Quick Starter Manual, you should have a quick look. It is a very, very easy fix that will be done in seconds.

Download the CPDLC Quick Starter Manual (PDF document, 1.5Mb)

Record of changes:

  • Chapter 3.2.3: Leave “wfacars” active for Hoppie’s ACARS ATC Client
  • Chapter Proper method to erase historic ACARS messages
  • Chapter 3.3: Beta 16 of Project A330 CPDLC AOC Client released. References change from B15 to B16. If you have B15 installed, you don’t need to do anything.

Please help spreading the word about this topic and the manual. The more members use these tools, the more realistic it will become for the community and the more development we may trigger.

If you have questions, suggestions, find mistakes and wish to give feedback: fire away! Please not that I will be away for work until Thursday, so I am not be able to answer within a few hours.
Last edited by Andreas Fuchs 810809 on Fri Nov 25, 2016 4:18 pm, edited 6 times in total.
By Charan Kumar 1078107
#493949 Thanks Andreas for putting this together. I have used it before, but still had some confusion about those clicks and message colors, your document clarified them.

By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#494050 Hi guys!

Thanks a lot for your positive feedback, it helps keeping up the motivation!

Have you encountered any problems? Can I help?

Over the last few days I have held 2 Q&A-sessions at VATSIM Germany and had the chance to clear up some doubts or misconceptions. I have also received valuable feedback that has been incorporated into Edition 1.1 of the manual that I plan to release today or tomorrow.

If you are interested in a Q&A-session via Teamspeak and TeamViewer, let me know so we can find a date. I will be available until Wednesday.
By Ned Hamilton 1215492
#494055 This is great but how do you use it to file a flight plan & get clearance?

This is why I haven't started using it--I'm confused about where and when it can be used. I understand the software and have got the software working. But I don't know how to use it when starting a flight to get clearance.

Can it be used at any airport? Some Navigraph charts mention CPDLC and some don't. Does that mean that only airports that show it in the charts can be used? And the charts that mention it say things like
"ti: 25min prior to EOBT for unregulated flights"
What's that mean?

Getting the software installed and working is one thing. Figuring how to get it to get clearance is another!
Last edited by Ned Hamilton 1215492 on Sun Dec 13, 2015 4:17 pm, edited 2 times in total.
By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#494058 I have just uploaded and released Edition 1.1 of this document. Please discard the previous version and download the latest file from the first post on this thread.

Changes and new content are marked with a vertical frame-bar on the left side of the document and there is also a record of changes at the very end of the document.

Record of changes:

  • Formatting, typing errors, missing words corrected
  • Chapter 1: note about CPDLC, PDC and DCL edited and new paragraph about differences between CPDLC and ACARS/PDC added
  • Chapter 3: new subchapter 3.1 “Definitions” added, following subchapters renumbered
  • Chapter 3.2.3: added a note regarding restarting MCDU
  • Chapter clarficiation to NOT logon to an ATCO before requesting PDC as it may cause problems, depending on the software used by ATC
  • Chapter re-iterated the fact that pilots do not need to logon to ATC before requesting PDC. Link to a YouTube PDC-demonstration video added. Explanation added on how to delete historic ACARS messages
  • Chapter 4: new subchapter 4.1.2 “Announcing your CPDLC Logon Code” added
  • Chapter 4.3.3: added option to use or not use vSMR’s Special Ground Radar Display
  • Chapter 4.3.4: emphasized importance of announcing availability of PDC services. Added instructions to use temporary altitudes due to formatting issues in cockpit devices
  • Chapter 5: 2 new links added
  • Chapter 6.1: to avoid formatting errors, uplinked.txt was made available as direct download
By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#494094 I have created a FAQ. It will be implemented into the next version of this manual.

Ich starte mal eine kleine FAQ, die dann als Teil der nächsten Version des Handbuchs erscheinen wird.

Hoppie CPDLC Airborne Client
Q: The MCDU does not offer any VATSIM ATIS! It keeps telling me that this function has not been implemented yet! What's going on?

A: After starting the Airborne Client, 747 Broker and MCDU, check on the Airborne Client that you really have version 1.9 installed and running. Other users had either forgotten to install the update version of MCDU and Airborne Client or they installed them into the wrong directory.
When installing the updated Airborne Client, make sure you select the "prg-"directory of ACARS-MSFS and not the main directory! Select [FONT="Courier New"]...\ACARS-MSFS\prg\[/FONT] as target or it will not work. Make sure that the installation routine asks you to overwrite existing data. If it does not ask you for that, something went wrong in the selection of the target directory.

Hoppie CPDLC ATC Client
Q: As ATCO I prefer not using CPDLC, because with the CPDLC ATC Client I am afraid to miss incoming messages. Having to keep an eye on the standalone application will distract me too much from my duties as ATCO, I rather wait for a Plugin to EuroScope.

A: Don't worry. You will NOT need to constantly/regularly the Hoppie CPDLC ATC Client for incoming messages (Telex or CPDLC).
Once the Client receives a new incoming message, it will automatically notify you with an aural alert and at the same time the respective window with the message (Telex or CPDLC) itself will pop up. You can always minimize Hoppie's CPDLC ATC Client and disregard it until you receive a message.

Project A330 CPDLC AOC Client
Q: I am having trouble with PDCs. I am unable to send PDC requests without logging on to an ATCO's channel, it always fails.

A: Most probably your counterpart is using a Plugin for EuroScope, it is called vSMR. The current version of vSMR is NOT able to process logon-requests and for the time being you won't be able to get PDCs from such ATCOs, sorry! In due time (early 2016) a new version of the Project A330 CPDLC AOC Client will be made available that won't require pilots to logon to an ATCO's channel before sending a PDC request. In the meantime you can use Hoppie's CPDLC Airborne Client to request PDCs or you revert to voice/text.

We will report here once the new version of Project A330 CPDLC AOC Client is ready for download.
By Andreas Fuchs 810809
#496897 Apologies, I forgot to amend the PDC procedure with the new version of the A330 AOC Client. It is corrected now in Version 1.2.1 of the manual. Please discard version 1.2 and download 1.2.1.
By Peter Lund 835801
#498335 Quick question.
Lets say I am parked at EDDF with both DEL, GND, TWR and APP online all using EDDF prefix.
How does ACARS know which one to write to since it´s not possible to put in the last part or does the VHF frequency determine ?

Best regards

By Kirk Christie 956763
#498353 Is the EDDF prefix you are talking about the call sign eg EDDF_DEL EDDF_GND?

If so that's not how the CPDLC works, you need to enter the CPDLC identifier the controller is using, further more, you would not use CPDLC to interact with GND or TWR, its just not practicable.
By Peter Lund 835801
#498354 Hi Kirk,
EDDF was just a example. But fx. duing CTP you will have EDDF_DEL, EDDF_GND, EDDF_TWR and most like several EDDF_APP.

When logging on a ATC station in Hoppies ACARS it only allows 4 letters and you can´t make underscore. So if I want to request PDC via ACARS how do I put in the ATC station since it will only allow 4 letters (EDDF) ?.

Best regards

By Pierre Ferran 1259058
Peter Lund 835801 wrote:Hi Kirk,
When logging on a ATC station in Hoppies ACARS it only allows 4 letters and you can´t make underscore. So if I want to request PDC via ACARS how do I put in the ATC station since it will only allow 4 letters (EDDF) ?.

You just use EDDF as the logon, the system will dispatch the message accordingly (because most probably only DEL will be logged in as EDDF on CPDLC)