A system and method updates flight management files in accordance with the present invention and provides a retrievable record of the flight performance of an aircraft. A flight management computer is positioned on board the aircraft and interfaces and provides flight critical data received from flight navigation database files to a plurality of aircraft navigation and operational components located throughout the aircraft. A ground data link unit includes a data store that accumulates and stores flight performance data. A spread spectrum transceiver coupled to the data store transmits the stored flight performance data and uploads navigation database files over a spread spectrum communication signal. A controller is operatively connected to the data store, spread spectrum transceiver and flight management computer and receives the uploaded flight navigation database files and transfers the database files to a flight management computer. The airport based spread spectrum transceiver includes a receiver that receives the spread spectrum signal from the aircraft and demodulates the signal to obtain flight performance data. A transmitter transmits flight navigation database files to the aircraft over a second spread spectrum communication signal based on a unique tail number identifier.