INMARSAT

Inmarsat has announced its participation in this year’s Boeing ecoDemonstrator program (today’s Hot Topic Image). The global initiative, which aims to enhance the sustainability and safety of air travel by testing the world’s most promising technologies, has commenced the first flight trials for important new components of Inmarsat’s Iris air traffic modernization solution.

Powered by the Inmarsat ELERA global satellite network, Iris enables real-time collaboration between pilots, air traffic controllers and an airline’s operation center using cost-effective, secure and highly resilient datalink communications. As a result, they can calculate the shortest available routes, determine flight trajectories and cruise at optimum altitudes, while also receiving the latest digital information, such as weather updates. This not only improves airspace usage to accommodate future growth, but also allows airlines to minimize delays, save fuel and reduce the environment impact of their operations.

Iris capabilities have been enhanced recently with the introduction of next-generation ATN/IPS (Aeronautical Telecommunication Network using Internet Protocol Suite) satellite communications, which are currently being finalized as the global standard for air traffic control communications to and from the aircraft. This technology is being trialed for the first time as part of the Boeing ecoDemonstrator flights, marking an important step forward in Iris’ global rollout and unlocking significant benefits in service scalability, bandwidth and throughput for Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) and airspace users.

John Broughton, Inmarsat’s Senior Vice President of Aircraft Operations and Safety Services, said: “Inmarsat’s Iris program is a great example of the vast benefits a digitized aviation industry will offer. By modernizing air traffic management, there is significant potential to drive environmental efficiencies and cut aviation’s carbon emissions. We’re proud to be involved in this future-facing research and look forward to working closely with other members of the Boeing ecoDemonstrator program to enable a more sustainable future of flying.”

Iris is currently being assessed for air traffic control and operational communications on flights across America operated on Boeing’s 2021 ecoDemonstrator 737-9 aircraft, in partnership with Alaska Airlines. The flights utilize equipment, terminals and routers from Iris partners including Honeywell and Cobham.

Rae Lutters, ecoDemonstrator Program Manager at Boeing, said: “We’re excited to be partnering with Inmarsat in our ecoDemonstrator program this year. We selected the Iris solution for testing, as it is closely aligned to our own commitment to reduce the environmental impact of modern aircraft. We are looking forward to evaluating Iris in a live flying environment and exploring the real-life impact such innovative technology could have when implemented on a global scale.”

The Iris program, which has been developed by Inmarsat in partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), is expected to rollout in Europe by 2023 and then on a global basis over the next decade.

Elodie Viau, ESA Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications, said: “The Iris program is enabling aviation to become fully digital while reducing its carbon emissions. Passengers will be able to travel faster through less congested airports due to improved scheduling. We are excited to see Iris in action, proving that investment in space benefits the aviation industry and passengers.”


MORGAN STANLY RESEARCH

  • Southwest is stepping up recruiting efforts by offering an employee incentive program in order to boost applicants. The Southwest Airlines Gratitude (SWAG) Program consists of an internal rewards program which allows employees to collect points and redeem them for air miles, flight guest passes, concert tickets, and more. If the referral accepts the job and works for Southwest for at least 6 months, the referrer can receive 20,000 SWAG points – a value estimated to be ~$300. At the beginning of the pandemic, many airlines encouraged employees to take early retirements or partial paid time off in order to cut expenses. Today, airlines are looking to hire and/or retrain employees to keep up with the surge in travel demand that materialized faster than most expected. The labor shortage issue is affecting the entire airline industry, not just Southwest, and has caused industry wide disruptions such as delays/cancellations of flights, technical difficulties and more (see our thoughts here and here). That being said, management believes that a competitive advantage for LUV in the current labor environment is that they did not furlough employees during the pandemic, which should allow them to bring employees back more easily.
  • Southwest also reached a tentative agreement with the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) to reward more than 5,000 customer service employees.
  • Low cost carrier Breeze Airways raised $200mn in new funding less than three months after launching its inaugural flight. Last week, Salt Lake City-based Breeze Airways announced it closed a $200mn Series B funding round, bringing its total funding to ~$300mn. Breeze Airways is a low cost carrier focused on nonstop routes between 16 underserved destinations in the U.S. (Hartford, CT, Louisville, KY, Tulsa, OK, Providence, RI, and more). The airline was founded by David Neeleman, who previously co-founded Morris Air, WestJet, JetBlue, and Azul Linhas Aereas, and has already had more than 100,000 passengers since launching operations in May 2021. Breeze Airways currently operates 13 Embraer regional jets and is expected to take delivery of 60 new Airbus A220s in October, which will be delivered at a rate of ~one per month over the next five years (see here). Breeze and Avelo are two of the new entrants in the regional ULCC space, which together with the aggressive growth plans of incumbent ULCCs should see ULCC share of the industry push higher (coming from both growth as well as share gains).
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) extended its travel mask mandate through January 18 to minimize the spread of COVID-19 on public transportation. Last week, TSA announced it will be extending the face mask requirement for individuals across all transportation networks throughout the U.S., including airports, onboard commercial aircraft, and commuter bus and rail systems. TSA began requiring face masks early on in the pandemic, with the initial face mask requirement set to expire on May 11, but later being extended through September 13, 2021. Mask mandates have faced some resistance throughout the pandemic, leading to encounters between passengers who do not want to wear a mask and flight attendants that have to enforce the federal rule. Last week, the FAA reported 3,889 incidents involving unruly passengers this year, and 2,867 of them (or 74%) involved refusing to wear a mask. According to U.S. Travel Association Executive VP of Public Affairs and Policy, Tori Emerson Barnes, extending the federal mask mandate for travel makes sense in the current health environment and has the travel industry’s full support. While this is less than ideal news for the airline sector that was hoping for a removal of the mask mandate to get passengers more comfortable, improve service, and reduce incidents on board, it is no doubt an understandable step in the near-term to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

SECURITY & SAFETY

And yes, Flight Attendant security is becoming a big deal!
NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on Twitter: “Inside a flight attendant self-defense training as bad passenger behavior surges — @TomCostelloNBC reports. https://t.co/RlfYL8NCe7” / Twitter


OTHER NEWS

  • If you are a fan of author Daniel Silva, you just might find the Author’s Note section in his latest book, The Cellist, interesting – especially the last thoughts on national security!
  • If your travel experiences seem to require you to sleep in airports, here is a website that has a lot of information on many travel solutions – The Guide to Sleeping in Airports
  • ATTENTION CODERS! Here is an Open AI Codex Live Demo – (641) OpenAI Codex Live Demo – YouTube Noted one viewer: “This is amazing. Making coding more accessible is going to be a huge leap forward. I can’t wait to see this get more advanced.”
  • With Coronavirus taking over, you might need some music to calm your concerns, and we have found a solution – BOSE Home Speaker 500. Could clean audio kill a virus? No, but it really kills time well!
  • Here are some amazing pix from the EAA AirVenture in 2021 – EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2021 | Flickr … and we mean A LOT OF PIX!

March 10, 2020–SITA is accelerating innovation in air traffic control (ATC) communications as part of Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program, alongside key industry partners including NASA and long-standing airline customer, Etihad.

The program tests pioneering and promising technologies that aim to solve air transport industry challenges for airlines and passengers, as well as enhancing sustainability. The most recent program saw the implementation of such technologies onboard a Boeing 777 and tests a total of 50 different projects.

SITA’s involvement in the program highlights the strength of its SITA FOR AIRCRAFT portfolio, which delivers the promise of the connected aircraft by providing services that enable communication between aircraft, ground systems, ATC and other operators.

SITA is working in collaboration with Honeywell to optimize the transmission of digital information between pilots, ATC and airline operations centers (AOCs) using Internet Protocol Suites (IPS). The technology supports Boeing’s ambition of testing technologies that focus on the enhancement of flight operations and safety, with the potential to drastically improve ATC communications and end-to-end data exchanges.

Following the completion of successful trials, the migration from ACARS protocols to IPS could benefit airlines by offering commonality across mainstream communications channels, as well as next-generation network compatibility and enhanced security.

SITA’s testing of these capabilities, through Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator initiative, has an important role to play in today’s ground-to-air connectivity landscape and the increasing pressure on traditional communications protocols.

The implementation comes as part of SITA’s work to evolve a multilink aircraft communications ecosystem, as a world leader in IPS. Central to this approach is SITA’s ability to integrate multiple networks, both proprietary and third-party, enabling seamless fallback and a vital system that inspires industry-wide confidence.

Mike Sinnett, Vice President of Product Strategy and Future Airplane Development at Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said: “It’s exciting to welcome SITA onboard our debut 777 ecoDemonstrator to address some of the challenges facing airline operations and air traffic control. This is a key area in assessing the technologies that will make our skies safer and more efficient, for Boeing, and the wider industry.”

Dominique El Bez, Vice President Product and Strategy, SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, said: “Reinforcing flight safety and optimization remain priorities for airlines and air traffic managers. That’s why SITA is working to build and optimize a multilink communications ecosystem. By working with the Boeing ecoDemonstrator to test these solutions faster and with greater fidelity, we hope to continue to develop our end-to-end, fault-resistant solutions for enhanced aircraft communications, whatever the satellite network or connectivity platform.”

SITA FOR AIRCRAFT is one of SITA’s three domains of expertise, alongside SITA AT AIRPORTS and SITA AT BORDERS. These domains of expertise bring together SITA’s technology solutions and services with in-depth knowledge of industry processes and systems.

To find out more about SITA FOR AIRCRAFT’s aircraft communications services, visit the website, speak to your local SITA FOR AIRCRAFT contact, or submit an enquiry form.