The 3 Top ‘Data Link Systems’ In Use Today

Datalink systems are often used to enable communication between aircraft and ground systems, that’s why they have a lot of applications in the aviation and other military industries. But how does datalink work?

That’s what we’ll look into in this article while discussing the top 3 datalink systems currently in use as well. In the modern age of aviation, advanced technology plays a critical role in ensuring safe and efficient flights.

Among these technologies, the data link system stands out as a key element. But what is the data link system in aviation? Why is it used? This article delves into the intricacies of data link systems, their main functions, history, and alternative names.

What Does Data Link Mean?

Datalink systems are used to connect two locations via telecommunication, enabling them to send and receive digital information. This digital transfer occurs through a link protocol that permits the data to be transferred to the destination from the source.

Data Link Systems

The data link makes up the second layer of the Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) architecture model, which is used for telecommunication protocols. The OSI is composed of 7 layers, moving from top to bottom, and the data link layer is the layer in the protocol that’s responsible for moving the data into a physical layer in a certain network, or out of it.

Before the data can be transferred across two points on the same WAN or LAN, they need to be encoded, decoded, and sorted out – and that takes place in the data link layer. This layer also determines how two or more devices can recover from a collision that occurs once nodes try to send frames at the same time.

There are three types of data link configurations: simplex, half-duplex, and duplex. The simplex configuration only allows for unidirectional communications, while the half-duplex configuration allows bidirectional communications; albeit not simultaneously.

Meanwhile, duplex configurations allow simultaneous bidirectional communications. There are a lot of protocols that govern the transfer of data via data links.

What Does Data Link Mean

The 3 Top Data Link Systems in Use Today

Data Link systems have a lot of applications nowadays. For most applications, here are the 3 top used datalink systems:

1. Software-Defined Radio (SDR)

There are a lot of components that have been traditionally implemented in hardware. These components include filters, mixers, modulators, demodulators, amplifiers, detectors, and others. A software-defined radio, or SDR, is a radio communication system that implements these components in a software program instead of hardware.

They can be implemented in embedded systems or personal computers. The datalink pros at CP Technologies said that the SDR architecture enhances the capabilities and reliability of any system.

That’s because SDR provides the ability to send and receive a wide array of modulation methods using commonly-available pieces of hardware. Moreover, it makes altering the functionality of this hardware by downloading and installing new software programs at will.

SDR also enables the user to choose the operating frequency, while allowing them to recognize interference with other communication channels, eliminate the hassle and cost of using hardware, and experiment with new protocols.

2. Data Link Control (DLC)

Data Link control, or DLC, is a system based on the data link layer of the OSI architecture model that manages flow control and frame error detection. By doing so, the system can ensure the reliability and security of network data communication.

DLC systems handle a myriad of tasks, including the following:

  • The reliable transmission of link packet
  • Detecting errors and commencing recovery during high-layer packet retransmissions
  • Error framing, which is used to determine the start and end of packetization. This process uses three approaches: character-oriented framing, bit-oriented framing, and length counts.

Meanwhile, the context of DLC devices can go as follows:

  • The computers and peripherals of IBM systems network architecture (SNA)
  • LAN communications with servers, computers, and printers
  • Ethernet MAC drivers and other token rings through which digital frames can be transmitted
  • Windows 16-bit programs
  • MS-DOS
  • Windows 2000 32-bit programs that have DLC network protocol stacks
  • CCBI 16-bit interfaces
  • IEEE 802.2 ethernet network frames
  • Windows-compliant NIC dynamic link libraries

3. Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256 Algorithm

The more advanced digital communications get, the better chances cybercriminals get. They’re always prowling the internet looking for weak links to exploit, and that makes the need for encryption stronger than ever.

Encryption algorithms help protect data by converting plaintext into ciphertext that can’t be deciphered by anyone else. So even if cybercriminals could access the data, they’ll have no means of using it.

Out of all encryption algorithms, the advanced encryption standard, or AES, is the first to be approved by the US National Security Agency (NSA). AES 256 has a key length formed of 256 bits and it’s practically unbreakable, which makes it the strongest encryption algorithm.

Datalink is a layer in the OSI architecture model. It’s used in establishing systems that send and receive data across devices, especially between aircraft and ground systems. Out of all the datalink systems available for use today, three systems are most popular. These systems are the SDR, DLC, and AES.256 encryption algorithm.

What is the Data Link System in Aviation?

The data link system in aviation refers to a specialized communication system that transmits information between aircraft and ground stations, or even between multiple aircraft. These communications may include weather updates, air traffic control instructions, and other essential information.

Unlike traditional voice communication, data link communication offers a digital medium to transmit messages, which improves the accuracy and reliability of the information being sent.

Key Features:

  • High-Speed Transmission: Data links offer rapid data exchange rates.
  • Reliability: The digital nature of the data link system minimizes the chances of communication errors.
  • Automated Responses: Certain data link systems can automatically react to incoming messages, speeding up the decision-making process.

Why are Data Links Used?

Data links are primarily used to enhance the safety and efficiency of air travel. They facilitate accurate and rapid data transmission, thereby reducing the chance of errors.

The use of data links also eases the workload on pilots and air traffic controllers by automating certain tasks. Given that modern aviation operates on a global scale, the need for reliable communication is paramount, making data link systems indispensable.

What is the Main Function of Data Link Control?

The main function of data link control is to ensure the secure and accurate transmission of data between two or more devices in a network. This includes error detection and correction, data framing, and the sequential transfer of frames.

In the context of aviation, data link control works to:

  • Facilitate communication between aircraft and ground control.
  • Exchange vital information such as flight plans, weather updates, and emergency alerts.
  • Minimize human errors in communication.

Who Invented Datalink?

While it’s difficult to attribute the invention of the data link system to a single individual, the concept evolved alongside computer networking and digital communication technologies.

Its adaptation into aviation is a collaborative effort involving experts from multiple fields including computer science, engineering, and aeronautics.

What is Data Link Control Also Known As?

Data link control is also commonly referred to as Data Link Layer Control, especially in the context of the OSI (Open Systems Interconnection) model. This layer focuses on node-to-node communication and is vital for the reliable transmission of data.

In aviation, terms such as “aircraft data link” or “avionics data link” may be used to specify the particular application of data link control systems.


The data link system in aviation plays a pivotal role in the safety, efficiency, and reliability of air travel. From enabling high-speed transmission of critical information to reducing human error, the benefits are clear.

Understanding the primary function of data link control, its history, and what it’s also known as, can give us a better appreciation of this vital technology. As we look towards the future of aviation, the data link system will undoubtedly continue to evolve, providing ever-greater levels of safety and efficiency.