A system and method of the present invention provides a retrievable record of the flight performance of an aircraft and allows exchanging of data to and from an aircraft. A ground data link unit obtains flight performance data. A spread spectrum transceiver is coupled to an archival data store that has accumulated and stored the flight performance data. The spread spectrum transceiver downloads both the flight performance data and data messages over the spread spectrum communication signal as the aircraft approaches the destination airport and after the aircraft completes its flight and lands at the airport. An airport based spread spectrum transceiver receives the spread spectrum communication signal and demodulates the signal to obtain the data messages and flight performance data. A ground based processor coupled to the airport based spread spectrum transceiver receives at least the data message for subsequent processing.