Ontario, Canada | August 31, 2016– The SESAR JU RISE project continues to prove the benefits of performance based navigation (PBN) throughout Europe. In the latest set of flight trials, DSNA, the civil aviation authority of France, and Air France, Air Corsica and easyJet have assessed the PBN procedures designed for Ajaccio and Nice through a series of demonstration flight trials. The RISE Project, which seeks to improve airport accessibility, enhance safety and reduce environmental impact at airports throughout Europe, is co-financed by SESAR Joint Undertaking and its partners.

DSNA stated, “The trials in Nice and Ajaccio prove that PBN holds the key to improving airport accessibility and enhancing safety in our airspace. In Nice, not only were we able to lower the approach minima nearly 900 feet, we were also able to restrict the flight path in order to provide a fully repeatable path.”

SESAR JU has been working with NAVBLUE, formerly Airbus ProSky, part of “Services by Airbus”, DSNA and Air France, Emirates, EasyJet, Air Corsica to design and test PBN procedures. In Nice and Ajaccio, the procedures designed by DSNA enhance safety by providing a fully managed approach down to the runway threshold. Previously there were only visual prescribed track (VPT) procedures in place at Ajaccio RWY20 and at Nice RWY22. The new approaches will improve airport accessibility by lowering the minima. It could also reduce the noise impact on the city of Ajaccio, compared to the current procedure.

The Nice and Ajaccio flight trials are part of the more than 330 flight trials conducted so far in collaboration with the partner airlines and ANSPs since September 2015 in France, Greece, Cyprus and Portugal. These trials allowed capturing feedback from flight crew and air traffic controllers on the procedures in terms of fly-ability, safety, crew and ATC workload, as well as assess savings in CO2 emissions and fuel consumption reduction.

London, United Kingdom | November 26,2014– Inmarsat, (LSE:ISAT.L), the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services, has today announced that SwiftBroadband Safety will play an integral part in the future European air traffic management (ATM) infrastructure. The announcement follows the signing of a contract between Inmarsat and the European Space Agency (ESA) for the Iris Precursor partnership at the House of Commons in London.

The Iris Precursor partnership will upgrade SwiftBroadband to meet the demanding standards set for ground-based VHF data links. This will enable Single European Skies ATM Research (SESAR) flight management concepts, where flight plans can be continually updated during flight to maintain an optimal trajectory to destination. These trajectory management concepts allow air traffic control to offer better routings, sequence aircraft far in advance and maximise airport and airspace capacity. This benefits air operators by reducing flight time and airborne holding. It also supports other concepts such as continuous descent operations. The combined effect is less fuel burn, reduced delays and lower CO2 emissions.

Using SwiftBroadband to enable Iris is an extension of Inmarsat’s more than 20 year experience as the leading provider of safety communications to 98% of airlines. This partnership is the next step in developing SwiftBroadband Safety, which has recently begun flight trials for oceanic operational approvals. It is being developed in coordination with a dedicated project in the frame of the SESAR programme, P15.02.05 (also named “Iris Precursor”) that results in pre-operational flight trials during 2016.

The Iris Precursor partnership results from a major funding commitment approved at ESA’s 2012 Ministerial Council, with the UK as the main contributor; followed by Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Ireland and Portugal. Under the ESA Iris Precursor partnership, SwiftBroadband will be upgraded to provide a satellite overlay to terrestrial VHF networks. While the initial focus will be on Europe, the capabilities developed will open opportunities for deployment in North America, Asia Pacific and other regions, where the growth of air traffic is placing strain on ground-based VHF networks.

Inmarsat was the logical partner for this partnership given its long history of being at the forefront of safety communications. The partnership consists of an Industrial team with 16 companies from eight ESA Member States. These companies have long-standing working relationships and a proven heritage of successfully delivered, high quality, aeronautical safety solutions.

The Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, Greg Clark said: “One in five telecommunication satellites are built in the UK and today’s €15 million contract between ESA and UK satellite operator Inmarsat is further proof that the UK is a global leader in the telecommunications field. From mapping West Africa to combat Ebola to landing a satellite on a comet, British engineers are pushing through scientific boundaries on a daily basis.

“This partnership will see Britain’s technological expertise play a crucial role in revolutionising global air travel through modern communications – making aviation safer, more efficient and lowering costs and emissions.”

Inmarsat supports aviation safety services to nearly 10,000 aircraft, delivering Automatic Dependent Surveillance Contract (ADS-C) and Controller Pilot Data link Communications (CPDLC) FANS service on a worldwide basis.

“Inmarsat was the first operator to meet ICAO safety communications requirements and our innovation has not stood still”, said Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat. “Today’s announcement cements our role in providing aviation safety services. We have been committed since the launch of Future Air Navigation Systems in the 1990s to support safety communications for the world’s airlines. Our aim, and the purpose of this partnership, is to continue to provide airlines across the globe with improved safety services, aircraft routing, and environmental and cost efficiency benefits.”

Magali Vaissiere, ESA’s Director of Telecommunications and integrated Applications, said: “Iris Precursor is a project within the framework of ESA’s Iris Programme, born in 2008 to provide a satellite system as part of a wider initiative driven by the European Commission for the modernisation of the air traffic management. It represents a first milestone of a fruitful collaboration in the long-term modernisation of air traffic management: a challenge that we can only do it if we join forces, ready to tackle step by step.”

IFExpress readers: Don’t get cold feet over this bit of aviation communication technology; however, it might help to get started by reviewing today’s aircraft ACARS System.

For the last few years, Axel Jahn’s TriaGnoSys has never ceased to amaze us. First it was IFE and then Connectivity, last year it was weather, and now, his company is proposing and testing what we like to consider as the new ACARS… all in association with his “One-Box-Wonder”. If you aren’t a pilot type, ACARS is a digital datalink system for transmission of short, simple, protocol heavy messages between mostly commercial aircraft and ground. The TriaGnoSys solution, SANDRA (Seamless Aeronautical Networking through integration of Data links, Radios and Antennas), described in their own words as a proof-of-concept testbed of future IPv6-based connectivity, which integrates cockpit communications with both passenger and non-operational airline communications into a common system architecture. Check out their press release. SANDRA is a connectivity approach that uses modern data protocols and if you don’t know about the company, be advised that TriaGnoSys Research and Development focuses on a broad range of mobile communication fields, including mobile end-to-end solutions, wireless In-flight Entertainment (IFE), next generation satellite connectivity and cabin/cockpit communication, as well as combined navigation and communications technologies.

Charlie Pryor, TriaGnoSys PR told IFExpress: “It’s really about two things. The first is bringing seamless comms to the cockpit (as you say, seamless is important). What that means is from a pilot’s perspective he/she will be in touch with the ground throughout the flight, either using datalink or, where necessary, voice. It will be just a case of using it, without having to fiddle around connecting to the satellite or VHF or whatever. In the background, the system will choose the best connection – a satellite or whichever air-to-ground network is most appropriate. So it will be simple for the pilot to use, and efficient. It is also moving cockpit comms towards digital and away from analogue. The second element is that it integrates with passenger connectivity. It uses the same networks, but with segregation for security. It is a concept at the moment – it works but needs more development to make it operational.”

The chart on this page may help.

We thought it would be a good idea to talk to the TriaGnoSys folks and they said: “Don’t forget this is early research. The aim is to continue working on the development of this technology, moving closer to implementation. TriaGnoSys sees the next stage as a further European-funded programme, with several of the same SANDRA partners, in particular working with increased focus on the issue you highlighted integrated technology for the cockpit and the cabin, while ensuring segregation. In SANDRA, TriaGnoSys has done much of the theoretical work, as well as fundamental design and development work to achieve an early functional demonstration; implementation in real operation will require more work and further proof-of-concept trials and demos on higher TRL levels.”

Q: If voice is least preferred communication methodology (and we understand why), how is the aircraft/ground info displayed?

A: That depends entirely on the avionics system on the aircraft. But it would be displayed in a very similar way to current controller–pilot data link communications (CPDLC) data.

Q: What is the range of info requests/updates… weather, fuel, traffic, aircraft status?

A: Theoretically, there is no limit to the type of data that can be transmitted. It depends on what the regulators, air traffic providers and airlines want to use it for. There will be more bandwidth available. In fact, SESAR has specified use of future data links for ATS and AOC in the COCR (now v2), which is kind of work in progress still and is the reference for (a) what data is exchanged and (b) what are the requirements for the data link

Q: How is passenger data involved?

A: Passenger data is involved inasmuch as the cockpit and cabin will share suitable link capacities, though with strict segregation to provide security.

Q: Who pays what and when and how?

A: That is really a question to address when we get to the implementation stage. However, it is likely to be a combination of the airline, for the cockpit side, and the passenger for the cabin side.

5. What is the present-day total coverage?

A: Coverage of all flight routes is one of the key aims of SANDRA, which is why the technology uses both both satellite and ground radio links.

Q: And finally, why is this coming to aircraft now?

A: There is “a common agreement” that the current practice of voice-centric ATC and limited bandwidth cockpit data links will limit future air traffic growth. In response to that, SESAR and NextGen are specifying the future data-centric concept of operations, with future data links as a central element (LDACS, AeroMACS, Iris). ICAO has already set the framework for the next generation global Aeronautical Telecommunication Network (ATN) based on IPv6 in the ATN/IPS SARPS Doc. 9896, specifying minimum communication protocols and services required for the implementation of the future ICAO ATN. This is the background for SANDRA and why this projects brings IPv6 data links onto an aircraft.

Q: BTW, is this loosely considered airborne data integration?

A: Yes, basically that is exactly what it is.

Q: We gather this is not a “replacement” for ACARS, then?

A: SANDRA is not a replacement of ACARS. In fact, it was originally designed to transmit ACARS messages over SANDRA. So ACARS applications may run over the new links in the transitional phase, possibly being replaced by new protocols. SANDRA is more about the seamless integration of the communications technology than the details of the services that run over the communications.

Stay Tuned!

Munich, Germany | June 27, 2013– The SANDRA research consortium has today announced the completion of the first flight test programme of its integrated system for next generation cockpit and cabin communications. TriaGnoSys is responsible for the complete system integration and pre-flight lab testing.

The objective of SANDRA (Seamless Aeronautical Networking through integration of Data links, Radios and Antennas) is to design and demonstrate a proof-of-concept testbed of future IPv6-based connectivity, which integrates cockpit communications with both passenger and non-operational airline communications into a common system architecture.

Cabin communication services offered today on many commercial flights around the world allow passengers to access the Internet and use their cellular phones during flights. The satellite and direct air-to-ground connectivity solutions use the IP protocol suite and offer connection speeds ranging from few hundred kilobits per second to around three or four megabits per second per aircraft. In contrast, cockpit communications still rely heavily on analogue voice communication and non-IP low bit-rate data links.

By supporting SESAR’s concept of future data-centric cockpit communications, SANDRA is contributing to more efficient and safer flights, which will be particularly important as the volume of air traffic increases.

The flight programme, on DLR’s Advanced Technology Research Aircraft (ATRA), a modified Airbus A320, ran for three days in June 2013. The SANDRA system was successfully tested on several flights around Oberpfaffenhofen Airport in Bavaria, Germany, where DLR is based. The communication system successfully switched automatically between ground stations with no loss of connectivity throughout the flights.

The SANDRA consortium is made up for Europe’s leading aviation technology companies and research organisations. TriaGnoSys, the expert in aeronautical and satellite communications technology, is responsible for integration of the SANDRA communications system and the IPv6 networking software. Importantly, it ensures security of communication, including segregation of cockpit and cabin, efficient resource usage, and seamless handovers between the various radio links.

Dr Markus Werner, Managing Director of TriaGnoSys, said, “We use digital communications in every facet of our lives. Just look at the number of people who have smartphones and tablets. But often aircraft rely on a combination of decades-old analogue communications and a separate satellite-based system, making cockpit communications both complex to use and inefficient. SANDRA is bringing cockpit communications into the 21st century by simplifying the process for pilots and providing the platform for many more advanced services.”

The SANDRA system brings the most advanced multilink communications, integrating L-band and Ku-band satellite links, as well as AeroMACS ground links, and current VHF data link (VDL2). It uses industry standards such as IP, IEEE 802.16 (WiMAX), DVB-S2 and Inmarsat SwiftBroadband. The system can be set up to choose the best available radio link, or the crew can select the link manually.

Werner continued, “As well as integrating the various radio links, the use of industry standards means we can also integrate cockpit and cabin communications. The cockpit and cabin systems are separate for security purposes, but share the link. This provides airlines with a cost-effective way of providing inflight connectivity to both passengers and pilots.”

The SANDRA consortium is coordinated by Selex ES and its members include aircraft manufacturers, aviation IT providers and consultants, research organisations and universities. SANDRA, which is co-funded by the European Commission, started in 2009 and will run until the end of 2013.