Explainer: ACARS and its future

Among the many legacy networks that NextGen initiatives will presumably replace, the Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) stands out as especially anachronistic in a wifi- and WWAN-enabled world. This system, which uses 100- to 200- character “telex-style” messages for 2-way data transmission between commercial aircraft and airline operations centers, is slow, expensive, and poorly suited for data-intensive workflows. This well-written article from Overhaul & Maintenance magazine explores the options for replacing ACARS; if you’re interested in learning more about the system, it’s also worth taking a quick look at this clear and comprehensive Wikipedia entry.

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