France | November 1, 2017–An evolving multi-link ACARS landscape, embracing cutting-edge cockpit connectivity and solid VHF foundations, will remain the backbone of the aviation industry for the foreseeable future. So saysSITAONAIR, global leader in aviation operational and ATC communications, in its latest white paper, ACARS: Timeless tech for the connected aircraft age.

With a staggering 7.2 billion passengers expected to take to the skies in 2035, according to IATA projections, SITAONAIR’s latest report argues that driving the evolution and diversification of its ACARS technologies is key to empowering the industry to negotiate an increasingly crowded airspace.

SITAONAIR recently announced major partnerships with Inmarsat and Teledyne Controls that illustrate the adaptability of ACARS capabilities for emerging technologies, reflecting and supporting the diverse global aviation community in the connected aircraft age.

SITAONAIR has added Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) to its portfolio; an ACARS-reliant next-generation flight deck communications platform giving airlines a dedicated IP connectivity service supporting enhanced safety and operational efficiency.

Working with Teledyne Controls, SITAONAIR is delivering the aviation industry’s first-ever airline-integrated ACARS datalink terrestrial cellular 3G/4G service. Employing Teledyne Controls’ GroundLink® Comm+ system, SITAONAIR is able to integrate terrestrial cellular services into its core datalink network, giving airlines the flexibility and benefit of another transmission channel for aircraft communications.

Meanwhile, VHF, VDL and legacy networks continue to be adopted, advanced, and work alongside these alternate technologies, around the world. Among these significant programs, detailed in the white paper, SITAONAIR has upgraded Europe’s primary ATC-airline communications network, delivering Europe’s first Multi-Frequency (MF) Very High Frequency Digital Link mode 2 (VDLm2) infrastructure. In March 2017 the Czech Republic’s Air Navigation Service Provider, ANS CR, appointed SITAONAIR to deliver a “communication gateway” to Prague Airport and others – through its ACARS network.

The company’s VHF/VDL network has also established an important new aircraft communications infrastructure in developing parts of the world, with more than 50 sites established in Brazil prior to the Rio Olympic Games.

Evolving ACARS landscape

Paul Gibson, Portfolio Director, AIRCOM at SITAONAIR, explains: “SITAONAIR’s ACARS network continues to evolve from its VHF origins, embracing satellite services, VHF and higher-speed VHF Digital Link (VDL), to deal with the steady rise in air traffic.

“Our recent announcement with Inmarsat on our adoption of SwiftBroadband-Safety to our wide-ranging connected aircraft portfolio will prove critical. We’re excited about the potential SB-S will bring to enable us to further innovate new, and enhance our existing, services and solutions, around a dedicated, secure IP connection to the cockpit.

“SITAONAIR is taking strides to ensure the ACARS network is evolving in tandem with the digital age, to enable message transmission using alternate technologies. Traditional ACARS and ACARS over IP will have a mutually important role to play in the ground-to-air connectivity landscape. Whether supporting the transmission of millions of ACARS messages exchanged every day, advancing Brazil’s complete VHF and VDL datalink network ahead of the Rio Olympics, or launching a next-generation flight deck IP communications platform, SITAONAIR is and will remain central to our industry’s ACARS story.”

ACARS remains heavily integrated into the ground systems of most airlines. Huge volumes of vital aircraft data come to and from aircraft via ACARS messaging, with 220 airlines now relying on SITAONAIR’s multi-link ACARS technology. The white paper highlights why ACARS, in its diversity, remains the most reliable, efficient and cost-effective ground-to-air messaging system, with SITAONAIR as its core service provider.

To find out more, download the full white paper, ACARS: Timeless tech for the connected aircraft age.

To explore the SITAONAIR connected aircraft portfolio, visit www.sitaonair.aero, speak to your local SITAONAIR contact orsubmit an enquiry form online.

Voice and data links to the flight deck via satellite provide time savings for passengers and reduce environmental impact of air travel, according to new Helios study

March 7, 2017– Satellite communication (satcom) in the cockpit has saved airlines more than US$3 billion thanks to safety and efficiency benefits, according to a study released today by Helios and Inmarsat (ISAT.L), the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications.

Satcom is the use of voice and data services via satellite to communicate with aircraft outside the range of conventional ground radar and Very High Frequency (VHF) stations, such as over oceanic regions. It is typically used for air traffic control and airline operations. The inaugural study, conducted by Helios, valued the benefit of satcom to airlines between 2001 and 2016.

It found that one single Air Traffic Control (ATC) benefit mechanism – reducing separation minima, which allows aircraft to fly closer together safely – was responsible for savings of US$890 million alone. Thanks to satcom, planes can now fly within 30 nautical miles of each other because of safe, reliable communication and tracking; previously aircraft were required to maintain a separation of 100 nautical miles. This allows aircraft to fly closer together and means more planes can fly in a given airspace, which is particularly beneficial over the busy skies of the North Atlantic. If an aircraft is not equipped with satellite communication capability, it must maintain the 100 nautical mile separation, and is not permitted to fly in certain areas.

Increasing airspace capacity also leads to more aircraft being able to choose optimum flight levels, saving time and fuel.

The US$890 million saving is a major part of the US$1.1 billion total ATC saving identified by the study. Other benefits that satcom provides to ATC include:

  • Individually-tailored flight plans that save time and fuel
  • Dynamic Airborne Reroute Procedure, which allows airborne rerouting of aircraft when data indicates a more efficient route is available, for example due to a change in weather conditions
  • Tailored arrivals, where arrival times are planned to allow an ideal descent route and to avoid holding patterns
  • Procedures in some oceanic regions to allow aircraft to climb or descend through an altitude that is already occupied by another aircraft

A further US$1.9 billion is saved thanks to the ability of aircraft to communicate with their Airline Operations Centre (AOC). AOC applications use real-time information to help airlines improve flight safety or provide a more efficient service at a lower cost. Delay management and scheduling is improved, fleets and flight crew can be better managed, maintenance can be taken care of and turnaround time on the ground is reduced.

Traditionally AOC communication is provided by the exchange of simple text messages between the pilot and the controller. As satcom bandwidth capacity increases, bringing broadband connectivity to the cockpit, there will be an explosion of IP-based AOC applications, allowing airlines to further optimise flight operations and fleet management. For example, an aircraft’s health can be constantly monitored, and any maintenance issue signaled ahead to the ground crew so parts and maintenance staff are ready as soon as the aircraft lands. Until now, most maintenance information was delivered upon landing, with potential for delaying speedy resolution of an issue.

Broadband connectivity will also help with urgent ATC demands, as our skies see ever more traffic. By 2030, there will be more passengers in the sky each year (7 billion) than there are people on the ground right now. They will fly in 40,000 aircraft, the majority of which will be connected.

The Helios study looked at benefits over oceanic regions, but it also highlights how satcom can complement existing ground-to-air data communications over land too. Savings over continental regions could equal those over the oceanic regions. For example, in the congested airspace of Europe, the Iris Precursor project has been established by the European Space Agency with support from Inmarsat and other aviation companies. It uses satcom to allow precise ‘4D’ flight path control, which optimises flight speed and descent profiles. It is designed to dramatically reduce delays, particularly around large hubs.

Nick McFarlane, Managing Director at Helios, said: “This is the first time that the benefits of satellite communication have been quantified and the results are impressive. The technology has already delivered huge benefits to the industry and emerging applications mean the trend is set to continue, in fact it is set to accelerate.”

Captain Mary McMillan, Vice President of Safety and Operational Services at Inmarsat Aviation, said: “This study shows how satellite communication has already done so much to improve the safety and efficiency of the skies. With the arrival of IP-based applications and new data-hungry cockpits, secured satcom enables cloud-computing and sensor fusion and delivers a step-change in critical safety data, as well as improved operational performance of today’s fleets. The potential to enhance the safety and efficiency of air travel is unlimited.”

Inmarsat pioneered cockpit data with the launch of Classic Aero back in 1990 and is today the leading service provide with 95 per cent market share. SwiftBroadband-Safety, its new IP-based broadband platform for the flight deck,brings aircraft connectivity to new levels. Always-on, always-secure high-speed broadband in the cockpit delivers much faster communication and a host of new safety and efficiency applications.

Wedemark, Germany | November 23, 2015– Audio specialist Sennheiser is to withdraw from the pilots’ headset business from March 2016. The company will fulfill all its obligations for servicing and spare parts throughout the full guarantee period for its headsets. Headsets for the air traffic control (ATC) sector are not affected by this decision, but will continue to be marketed with the current ATC team under the responsibility of the joint venture Sennheiser Communications.

“Our decision to leave the pilots’ headset sector was not taken lightly, especially as we have played a key role in the development of audio transmission in the cockpit, for example by introducing the world’s first headset with active noise compensation to receive FAA-TSO certification,” explained COO Peter Claussen. “We will redirect our aviation-specific resources to focus on our key business of headphone and microphone technology.”

The company will, of course, fulfil all its servicing and guarantee obligations; generous transition periods have been agreed with airline and equipment partners. “Even after all legal obligations have expired, support can certainly still be offered in individual cases,” Peter Claussen confirmed.

Air traffic control headsets are to remain part of the Sennheiser product portfolio, and the current ATC team will join the headset specialists at Sennheiser Communications from January 2016. Andreas Bach, President of Sennheiser Communications, commented: “We are thrilled that we will be marketing the highly successful Sennheiser ATC headsets, and see great opportunities by exploiting the synergies that exist between the ATC business and our CC&O segment. ATC customers around the world can rely on our premium offerings and services.”