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Plane-to-tower texting program to debut at Phoenix Sky Harbor

PHOENIX — A new plane-to-tower text system designed to cut down on delays and improve safety will make its debut sometime next year at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s Data Comm system has been undergoing testing at Newark International Airport in New Jersey. FedEx, United Airlines and UPS said the texting program reduced delays and saved money.

“There’s a great difference in the ability to move airline traffic sufficiently and safely,” retired American Airlines pilot and aviation consultant Jim Tilmon said. “The traveling public will enjoy it and so will the pilots in the cockpit.”

While some may be concerned about texting and driving, Tilmon said texting and flying is the exact opposite.

“It makes it much more accurate,” he said. “It will give them the opportunity to load up the airspace a lot more closely without increasing the danger of airplanes running into each other.”

KTAR’s Jeremy Foster contributed to this story.