Alitalia has become the latest single-aisle operator to benefit from Airbus' new air traffic control data link navigation system.

The Italian airline will install the new Airbus Future Air Navigation System B (FANS B) on 23 A321s. The airline became the third airline to adopt FANS B after Aeroflot and Finnair, when it purchased the system on August 10. Alitalia is the first Airbus customer to purchase the associated wiring provisions for the installation of FANS B.

Airbus Upgrade Services dedicated engineering teams will manage the project, produce design and engineering documentation, and will deliver the kits to be installed on the aircraft.

FANS B was developed to help speed up air-ground communications. It strengthens the link between aircraft crew and air traffic controllers by using a two-way data stream, allowing both parties to exchange written information regarding the navigation of the aircraft. FANS B works in addition to conventional radio systems and improves communications over remote areas, such as the ocean, where radio transmission is not available.

This can lead to a reduction in the number of air traffic delays that occur during a flight, which is especially beneficial in high density traffic areas such as Europe where many short-haul flights are operated in a small airspace.

A number of regional Air Traffic Management (ATM) projects have been developed to co-ordinate worldwide adoption of the data link technology. Eurocontrol Link 2000+ is one of these projects. Dedicated to improved air traffic management in the airspace of Europe, Eurocontrol Link 2000+ works with all parties in the region to develop seamless data link communication services for the benefit of all air space users.

Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.