The state of South Carolina recently penned a contract with Avtech Marketing to install “GroundLink,” a voice-activated Ground Communications Outlet (GCO), in 13 airports across the state.
GroundLink dials pre-stored numbers to enable pilots, while on the ground, to talk directly to ATC without leaving the pilot’s seat. This feature offers optimum safety when opening or closing an IFR clearance, state officials said.
“It not only comes down to convenience and safety for the pilot, but also increases our efficiency,” says Paul Wertz, the state’s team leader of airport development. “By allowing pilots to notify the ATC on the ground, we can handle them quickly and expand our capacity to receive more airplanes. The importance of a statewide program is critical. The state has the wherewithal to fund the systems, where an individual airport operator might not be able to afford to install or maintain a system. There’s no doubt the investment will pay off.”
Airports chosen for the new system include Barnwell, Beaufort, Berkeley County, Camden, Charleston Executive, Clemson, Conway, Greenville, Lancaster, Low Country Regional, Mount Pleasant Regional and Pickens.
South Carolina’s contract creates a new state GCO program for Avtech Marketing, which specializes in building, installing, and managing ground communications outlets for small and regional airports, with installations nationwide.
The new GCOs should be installed by the end of this year, according to AvTech officials. Pilots should not be inconvenienced during the installation periods, they say. It usually takes just one day to install the system, which then is immediately operational.
“Avtech works closely with the FAA to secure the most efficient numbers to open and close flight plans,” explains Bob Hilton, AvTech’s owner. “To open a clearance while on the ground, pilots simply click the mic four times and the system dials one number and connects directly to the person responsible for the sector.”