Different types of communication technology in aviation

Different types of communication technology in aviation

The communication systems used in aviation have grown alongside the industry. What was once a series of hand signals and rudder manoeuvres has evolved into an advanced communications system that uses a wide variety of software and hardware to communicate with pilots and air traffic controllers.


Originally, aircraft communications used analogue voice through either very high frequency (VHF) or high frequency (HF) radio wavebands. By the 1980s the aviation industry had moved on to digital, data-driven communications. Aviation management hasn’t looked back since then and has incorporated a plethora of digital communications technologies to better regulate air traffic.


In this article, we’re going to discuss three types of communication used in aviation – VCCS, legal recorder systems and AMHS.




VCCS is an abbreviation of voice communication control system. It is an electronic communications system that is used to control voice communication between air traffic control and the pilot in charge of the aircraft. This system provides a blend of different communication processes including audio devices, radio and telephone switching units and operation controller units. These devices are all core components of modern air traffic management operations.


VCCS is computer-aided and allows for responsive communication from the ground to the air which improved how air traffic management systems work. The VCCS features an intuitive interface that is easy to use mid-flight and allows for phone calls and audio recordings. The VCCS has been incredibly useful for the aviation industry as well as emergency services, the coast guard and other forms of traffic control.


Compliance and legal recorder systems


The aviation industry is heavily regulated, and with good reason. Regulations into how the aviation industry functions ensure optimal safety and security for passengers, pilots and the industry as a whole. There are a number of communication systems that are used to ensure that the aviation industry is compliant with the law and to provide additional safety. One of the most common is radar, which is used to help navigate aircraft during inclement weather.


Air traffic radar is used across the industry as a way to detect and track aircraft as well as help them through weather patterns that provide poor visibility. There are three types of radar used by the industry, which include:


  • Radar control service: used in a controlled airspace
  • Radar advisory service: used in an advisory airspace
  • Radar information service: used when aircraft operate outside controlled or advisory airspace


There are other communication tools used in the industry for compliance and legal reasons. The cockpit voice recorder is a device used to record the entire audio environment during a flight. It records audio from the flight deck and stores the recordings and audio signals of the pilot headsets securely in the event of an accident.


Message handling and aeronautical information systems


Communication between aircraft and aeronautical fixed stations is also important for contemporary flight and it uses the Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunications Network (AFTN) to do this. There are two types of AFTN – AFTN communication centres and AFTN stations. AFTN communication centres relay AFTN messages to and from other AFTN stations. If there is an air traffic service available, it is probably serviced by an AFTN station.


The aviation industry uses the aeronautical message handling system to perform all ground-to-ground communications. This helps with creating flight plans and relaying meteorological data. These newer AMHS-based solutions are being rolled out to replace the previous AFTN systems.