Eurowings Discover Partnering with AERQ for Digitalization in the Cabin

Eurowings Discover and AERQ announced a partnership to overcome current limitations in inflight entertainment and connectivity. Eurowings Discover is a new leisure carrier of Lufthansa Group with a fleet of A320 and A330 aircraft. AERQ’s open IT platform AERENA boosts digital cabin innovations throughout the travel journey and will facilitate greater passenger engagement onboard the aircraft.

By installing the fully-fledged AERENA inseat system on initially one A320 in 2023, the test aircraft will be used to roll out a game-changing digital experience on board, supported by a state-of-the-art cloud-based infrastructure. The seat-centric inseat system provides passengers with an upscale inflight entertainment experience building on latest technologies. A touchpoint of AERENA that inspires interaction and drives engagement, also through a PED (Personal Electronic Device) friendly environment.

“We are looking forward to this partnership with AERQ, as we believe in the great benefit of AERENA to our guests. By smart data capturing, analytics, and matching, we can learn about the passengers’ entertainment demands and address them specifically. Continuous development of onboard entertainment is at the core of our product strategy”, said Maximilian Meintgens, director Product & Marketing at Eurowings Discover. “Passengers want their flights to be as comfortable and entertaining as possible. This is especially true on our medium-haul flights where passengers are less likely to want to view content on smaller personal device screens, deal with power issues, and juggle seat real estate for where to place their devices. The partnership between AERQ and Eurowings Discover makes the time onboard more valuable for passengers.”

“Eurowings Discover profits from AERENA’s agility that allows rapid updates of all content, whether it is AVoD, the graphical user interface (GUI) or any application to move the experience and engagement to a new level. With AERENA Eurowings Discover can customise its on-board product and truly differentiate from competitors”, explained Son Yob (Louis) Pak, co-managing director at AERQ. “The carrier can personalise the passenger’s encounter. For instance, if you prefer to watch action movies, you can see the related content on your screen. This way airlines will be more than a means of transport, but will bring meaning, joy and value to journeys across their fleets.”

“AERENA not only ensures that an airline gets to know its passengers better. The platform also opens new revenue opportunities for Eurowings Discover. With the airlines’ and AERQ’s partner base, data driven selections, mobile device integration and a lot more ancillary revenues such as advertising, gaming, destination content, etc., can be increased substantially”, added Arnd Kikker, co-managing director at AERQ. “AERENA will be the key platform in making the additional revenue in terms of the full travel chain.”

Panasonic Avionics Introduces New Astrova IFE Seat-End Solution

Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic Avionics) is introducing its new in-flight entertainment (IFE) seat-end system, Astrova, by Panasonic Avionics.

“The launch of Astrova, by Panasonic Avionics, reflects a transformation in our business, how we develop our products, and how we engage with our customers,” said Ken Sain, CEO of Panasonic Avionics Corp. “Astrova is the first in-flight entertainment solution to truly recognize the untapped potential of seatback IFE and provides airlines with a powerful and targeted way of engaging with their passengers every time they fly.”

The company says Astrova, by Panasonic Avionics, demonstrates the its new approach to the market and its mindset in developing products and services “to help airlines drive higher net promoter scores (NPS), enhance passenger engagement, increase revenue, and deliver operational efficiencies through IFE and connectivity.” It leverages the latest consumer innovations to deliver unique passenger experiences that help carriers achieve their business goals. Several major airlines have selected Astrova, an innovative solution that also has the ability to provide easy, modular upgrades to in-cabin technology without full or costly interior changes.

An Enhanced Passenger Experience
On board Astrova-equipped aircraft, every passenger will immerse themselves in cinema-grade 4K OLED screens with High Dynamic Range (HDR) for the absolute best possible picture quality today. Passengers also will enjoy high fidelity audio through traditional wired connections or via Panasonic Avionics’ award-winning Bluetooth technology. By seamlessly interfacing their personal devices to the IFE system, passengers can create a multi-screen, multi-purpose environment which they are accustomed to at home.

As an industry first, Astrova by Panasonic Avionics will provide dedicated 67W of USB-C power to fast-charge passenger devices including notebooks and laptops.

Panasonic Avionics’ newest IFE seat-end solution also features programmable LED lighting that enhances passenger experience and enables airlines to optimize the cabin environment. Airlines can easily change the lighting to complement various phases of flight like food and beverage service. They also have the option to let passengers customize the lighting experience to their own personal preferences.

Maximizing Value to Airlines
Astrova, by Panasonic Avionics, redefines the role of the seatback IFE and reinforces its position as the most valuable opportunity for airlines to engage with their passengers. Because the average flight today is five hours, in-seat IFE offers a much longer dwell time than airline apps and other marketing channels. Astrova has been designed to provide significantly more opportunities to immerse passengers in an airline’s brand experience for both single-aisle and twin-aisle aircraft.

The solution is a seamless blend of newly developed hardware, software, and enterprise solutions that revolutionize the in-flight entertainment experience. Astrova lets airlines optimize the seatback to their individual commercial objectives, transforming it into an easily configured, flexible channel that caters to the personal and business needs of passengers each time they board an aircraft.

It also will be augmented and enabled by Panasonic Avionics’ global in-flight connectivity services. This allows airlines to easily personalize passenger content to engage them on a deeper level by providing access to passengers’ personal subscription services and content such as Apple Music, Spotify, Netflix, Disney+, YouTube, and HBO Max.

Maximizing the Return on Investment
Astrova, by Panasonic Avionics, re-imagines the ownership experience by delivering a range of commercial and operational benefits to airlines. Operational expenditure has been reduced by its ability to deliver faster on-wing maintenance and future upgrades.

Sustainability Contribution
To help airlines meet their sustainability goals, Astrova offers significant weight savings compared to other seat-end architectures, which will help airlines reduce fuel burn to help meet the airline industry’s climate goals.

Designed with modularity, scalability, and flexibility in mind, Astrova addresses the needs of modern airlines operating in today’ fast-changing market. Key hardware and software components can evolve over time to meet changing market requirements and satisfy ever-increasing passenger expectations. For example, a removable peripheral bar gives airlines the ability to easily add, upgrade or remove features such as USB power, Bluetooth audio, and other options.

It is also designed to be backward compatible with other Panasonic Avionics’ systems such as eX1, eX3, and NEXT, enabling operational commonality in areas such as media loading, spares and repairs for some line replaceable units, and cabin crew operations.

Andy Masson, Vice President of Product and Portfolio Management at Panasonic Avionics Corporation, said, “Astrova, by Panasonic Avionics, not only redefines in-flight entertainment but does so using a modular architecture that enables airlines to tailor it to support their individual commercial needs. The engaging, immersive, and connected experience it creates for passengers is matched by an operational ease of ownership that makes Astrova a win-win for airlines.”

Cobham Aerospace Communications is Taking Part in the ILA Berlin Air Show

Cobham Aerospace Communications is taking part in the ILA Berlin Air Show, in Germany, from 22 to 26 June 2022. At this year’s event, the focus of the ILA 2022 is climate-neutral flying.

Cobham Aerospace Communications, in the French aerospace industries association GIFAS pavilion, will present :
– A wide range of aircraft avionics systems including radio and audio control and management
– From entertainment to safety, reliable satcom systems for high-quality voice and data communications
– Airborne server solution (for IFE streaming services)
– Navigation, communications and surveillance antennas with new concept of integration into the composite
– Data link antennas
– Internal and external aircraft lightning

Cobham Aerospace Communications have a comprehensive knowledge of both defense and economic markets, including UAV and eVtol.

Collins Aerospace Launches FlightHub Electronic Flight Folder with Access to New Fuel Savings Application

Collins Aerospace is advancing digital aviation solutions that make flight more efficient and sustainable with FlightHub, its new Electronic Flight Folder accessible from an aircraft’s Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). FlightHub centralizes data sources and workflows for pilots and airlines, coordinating the lifecycle of an entire flight from start to finish.

Collating information into a single stream, FlightHub gives customers fast and easy access to all their flight information, from pre-flight documents, like flight plans and weather information, to post-flight summaries with actual timing and fuel burn reports.

FlightHub customers will also get access to Collins’ new Flight Profile Optimization (FPO) solution that delivers real-time route recommendations throughout a flight to help reduce CO2 emissions by saving fuel and time. Set for release later this year, FPO provides flight path information taken from multiple aircraft and ground sources for more up-to-date information than what is generally obtained from the operational flight plan (OFP) and the flight management system (FMS), which can be several hours old. In aggregate, airlines using FPO could see up to 1% annual savings on fuel per year.

“We’ve created FlightHub to reduce workload and streamline the experience for pilots, by cutting out unnecessary time sorting through multiple data sources. The application is also a quick and easy installation for airlines, which is key when implementing new technologies,” said Jen Schopfer, president of Connected Aviation Solutions for Collins Aerospace. “Flight Profile Optimization is the first of many features we will be introducing into FlightHub as we build and implement the right solutions to help our customers operate more efficiently and more sustainably.”

FlightHub supports the integration of airline and third-party applications and can operate as a stand-alone system or connect to the aircraft’s IP network to receive real-time updates. It’s one of many Collins applications designed with its unique data and analytics capabilities to provide value and efficiency to its customers across the aviation industry.

General Dynamics Mission Systems and Iridium Awarded $324 Million Ground Control and Operations Contract by the Space Development Agency


General Dynamics Mission Systems and Iridium Awarded $324 Million Ground Control and Operations Contract by the Space Development Agency

General Dynamics Mission Systems and Iridium Communications Inc.have been awarded a contract by the Space Development Agency in the amount of $324,516,613, including a base amount of $162,954,122 and $161,562,491 in options, to establish the ground Operations and Integration (O&I) segment for Tranche 1 of the National Defense Space Architecture (NDSA). Together, General Dynamics Mission Systems and Iridium will build ground entry points and operations centers for the NDSA as well as provide network operations and systems integration services for the SDA’s next tranche of proliferated low-earth orbit satellites.

The core operations and integration functions include enterprise management, network management, mission management, payload data management, and constellation monitoring that spans the ground, link, space, and user segments of the architecture.  Working with partners at KSAT USA, Raytheon and EMERGENT, the General Dynamics Mission Systems-Iridium team will develop, equip, staff, operate and maintain state-of-the-art, commercial-like operations centers, acquire and operate ground entry points, and lead ground-to-space integration efforts.

“We are incredibly proud to bring our long heritage of mission-critical space and ground communications and networking expertise to the Space Development Agency,” said Chris Brady, president, General Dynamics Mission Systems. “Together with our partners, we’re excited to build the foundation for the SDA’s initial warfighting capability and backbone of Joint All-Domain Command and Control.”

“Iridium, General Dynamics Mission Systems and the U.S. government have a long and successful history of working together and partnering on this project is a natural evolution of our relationship,” said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. “Iridium’s 25 years of experience operating in LEO makes us uniquely qualified for this opportunity, and we’re honored to take on this tremendous responsibility in support of this next generation network.”

Pratt & Whitney Joins SITA’S Data-Brokering Platform

Engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney and IT provider SITA have signed an agreement for full flight data retrieval and processing in support of predictive maintenance of aircraft engines. Many airlines will benefit from the new data-driven alignment between the two companies.

Rapidly available and actionable data about aircraft performance plays a crucial role in continuously improving airline operations. SITA’s cloud-based data-brokering platform e-Aircraft DataHub collects, transforms, and distributes full flight data collected from hundreds of sensors on the aircraft measuring, for example, engine section temperatures and pressures. This data shared with Pratt & Whitney facilitates Pratt & Whitney in providing its EngineWise Insights Plus engine health monitoring services to airlines.

Pratt & Whitney is the first Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) in the U.S. to join SITA’s e-Aircraft DataHub for big data analytics.

“Engine maintenance exists for the full life of an engine. Once an engine is produced, it then relies on Pratt & Whitney and our technicians to maintain, repair, and overhaul it whenever needed,” Joe Sylvestro, senior vice president of Aftermarket & Sustainment Operations at Pratt & Whitney, said. “Working with data delivery solution providers like SITA, our capability of collecting full-flight data is expanded to a larger aircraft population. More customers are able to benefit from our engineers’ and technicians’ expertise and data-driven insights leading to proactive, preventative maintenance.”

As the air transport industry’s neutral and open data-sharing platform, SITA’s e-Aircraft DataHub enables secure and easy data exchange between airlines and their operating partners such as Pratt & Whitney. Through advanced data processing, the platform provides structured, cleaned, filtered, coherent, and consistent output data across airlines and aircraft types without the need to add or modify aircraft equipment.

Yann Cabaret, CEO, SITA FOR AIRCRAFT, added: “e-Aircraft DataHub is a multi-fleet and hardware-free solution, allowing Pratt & Whitney to retrieve data from virtually any aircraft and any airline around the world, while these airlines remain in full control of their data. Through SITA’s unique data-brokering platform, Pratt & Whitney and airlines can collaborate effectively to gain invaluable, data-driven insights to improve their services across the board.”

Satcom Direct Expands Asia Pacific Presence with Singapore Office Opening and New Appointments

Satcom Direct (SD), the business aviation solutions provider, is strengthening its Asia Pacific network with the opening of a Singapore office. The new location represents the base for Brian Roos, the recently appointed Asia Pacific, regional director, and newly named regional sales manager, Kaviraj (Kavi) Nadarajah. 

Reporting directly to senior vice president, SD International, Michael Skou Christensen,  Roos is responsible for establishing the SD presence in Singapore and executing SD’s ongoing strategic developments across the Asia Pacific region. This includes identifying new markets, adding to the customer portfolio, consolidating existing and new MRO relationships, building new partnerships, and introducing established and new SD products and services to the connectivity-hungry market as well as ensuring continued delivery of SD award winning customer support.

Brian Roos

“Stretching from China to New Zealand, the Asia Pacific region has always been an important market for SD, and still holds great potential for us.  It is a buoyant area where the business aviation fleet continues to evolve, the number of high-net worth individuals is increasing, and the appetite for technology solutions to improve the user and owner experience is unparalleled globally. The appointment of Kavi enhances our support for regional operators and owners which are optimizing customized connectivity solutions to manage their data to meet their diverse mission needs. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to bolster SD’s footprint here,” says Roos.

As business aviation continues its trajectory towards digitization, with more data generated and transmitted by business aircraft, Roos will also be responsible for advocating the benefits of the SD connectivity ecosystem of hardware, software and infrastructure, as well as the introduction of the series of SD Plane Simple Antenna Systems. 

Following confirmation of FAA and EASA STCs in March 2022 for the Plane Simple Ku-band tail-mount antenna for specified Gulfstream and Bombardier airframes, and the anticipated confirmation of relevant STCs across Asia, top of Roos’ priority list will be to showcase the benefits of the first variant which is powered by the multi-layered Intelsat FlexExec service. Roos anticipates that the antenna, which simplifies high-speed data access for operators through ease of installation, competitive price plans and advanced antenna technology, will satisfy the region’s increased data demand.  The Plane Simple Ku-band variant is on track to enter commercial service in Q3 2022. 

With some 20 years of experience in aviation, Roos has held various positions within the commercial and private sectors, including airport operations, customer service, flight operations, flight support, and charter management. Brian spent five years working with start-up operators and flight support companies in the Middle East and Africa region before joining Satcom Direct. Originally from Cape Town, Roos is also a licensed International Flight Dispatcher.

Kavi Nadarajah will work closely with Roos, overseeing the north and southeast Asian customer base. His previous experience includes roles for Hawker Pacific and Jet Aviation after beginning his 18-year aviation career as a dispatcher for commercial airlines. He is eager to bring his passion for customer service to the SD community. “I am extremely excited to be a part of the new Singapore office team. The sky is not the limit for our services and I look forward to engaging with our customers to help them make the most out of the SD product and service portfolio,” says Nadarajah.

CPDLC Coming of Age

CPDLC Coming of Age

Data communications between pilots and air traffic controllers are designed to replace routine voice exchanges and to link an air traffic control agency’s ground automation systems with flight deck avionics to support ATC clearances, instructions, traffic flow management inputs, and flight crew requests. However, as Aimée Turner reports, significant infrastructure issues still need to be resolved if European Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) are ever to fulfill their potential.

Controllers are increasingly able to deliver instructions with a click of a mouse, without the need to use voice frequencies, an advance that is paving the way for an aircraft’s flight management system to receive the complex digital instructions necessary to make trajectory-based operations a reality.

Europe’s data link mandate was first fielded back in 2009, with an applicability date of 2013. But equipage rates both on ground and in the air did not develop as expected, hampered by serious technical issues that severely reduced the availability of data link for ATC use, initially delaying the mandate by five years.

Those initial CPDLC failures led the European Union in 2016 to appoint the SESAR deployment manager to resolve the issues and relaunch the program. It has since managed to help turn around the situation, reporting significant progress in efforts to boost the airline and ground equipage baseline necessary to allow the future vision of a system-wide digital exchange of information between aircraft and ground. Today, it reports that 80% of eligible aircraft are now equipped with the requisite CPDLC avionics, twice as many as in 2018.

One of the technical challenges that continues to weigh on the industry has been the ICAO ATN protocol creating too much overhead for the capacity of the VHF Digital Link Mode 2 (VDL-M2) system, which is used to support data link between aircraft and ground stations. The technology supports Airline Operational Control (AOC) as well as Air Traffic Services (ATS), and the industry believes that it is not a question of if, but when this will become congested and therefore potentially performance-limited, when air traffic volume picks up pace again.

Complex infrastructure issues still need to be resolved if European Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) are ever to fulfill their potential.
Complex infrastructure issues still need to be resolved if European Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) are ever to fulfill their potential.

Complementary technologies, including the terrestrial LDACS (L-band Digital Aeronautical Communications System) are being developed, which support data link but are also expected to evolve to support navigation functions and voice communication in the future. Iris satcom is already being tested as a data link-compliant satellite system.

The LDACS system is a valid candidate for the ATC community to use as a replacement for VDL, but it will take several more years for the SESAR Joint Undertaking to prove it capable of replacing VDL and for avionics vendors to develop certified LDACS radios. LDACS is certainly not as advanced as the Inmarsat Iris system, which is already being flight tested and will likely be the first alternative to VDL to be used operationally for CPDLC. (See Inmarsat Flight Trials page 30.)

Europe Develops Future Perspectives on Air/Ground Data Communications

air ground data

The evolution of the air traffic control air/ground data link is inextricably linked to the SESAR vision to bring trajectory-based operations to Europe, according to SESAR 3 Joint Undertaking experts Olivia Nunez and Ruben Flohr, who outlined the status of research on air-ground data communications for Aerospace Tech Review.

By continuously and collaboratively (pilot and ATC) optimizing the 4D-trajectory of a flight against evolving operating circumstances, like weather and traffic, the flight always remains as close as realistically possible to the airline’s requested flight trajectory.

SESAR 3 JU research is focused on the execution phase; the high traffic density of the European airspace, with its many short hauls (less than 2-3 hours), justifies this, as its complexity requires intensive ATC decision-support to keep all trajectories optimized.

“Our solution work aims to build on a reliable bidirectional data connection between flight deck and the ATC systems, the so-called Aeronautical Telecommunications Network-Baseline 2, consisting of the downlink of the flight management system predicted trajectory, called the extended projected profile, and a clearance uplink, via controller-pilot data link communication,” said Flohr.

When the autopilot follows the FMS plan, the EPP describes the optimum trajectory within the constraints known, allowing ATC to accommodate the aircraft’s performance when resolving conflicts or building sequences. This will reduce the need for inefficient early descents, for example.

Regarding CPDLC, the SESAR 3 JU, with its members and partners, is working on new clearances for uplink and auto-load, after pilot acceptance. The first is the enhanced vertical clearance. By knowing the EPP, a vertical clearance is composed to avoid intermediate level-offs, improving the efficiency of vertical profiles. The second is the 2D trajectory revision, substituting two sequential instructions of vectoring (conflict resolution) and resume own navigation. The composite clearance improves the predictability for ATC, pilot and FMS, allowing immediate re-optimization.

“As outlined in the European ATM Master Plan,” said Nunez, “the future data link will be based on the ATN internet protocol suite and will include a multilink switch between terrestrial (LDACS), satellite (satcom) and airport surface data link (AeroMACS). This is expected to improve bandwidth, latency, reliability, prioritization mechanisms and security. It also supports the rapid increase of airline-crew data traffic that is currently impacting ATN-B2 exchanges.”

For a smooth transition to the future environment, there will be ground proxies translating between the different protocols (FANS, OSI, IPS). The ATN-B2 standard (EUROCAE ED-228 / RTCA DO-350) will be updated to incorporate validation results from the following projects: DIGITS – P.J.31 now completed; ADSCENSIO PJ.38, end-date June 2023; and 4DSKYWAYS – PJ.18, end-date 2023.

ATM industry body CANSO supports the view that each of these technologies, LDACS and satellite communications systems, offers some unique benefits and technical capabilities which complement each other. Satellite systems are especially well-suited for large coverage areas with less dense air traffic, like oceanic remote and upper continental airspace regions, while LDACS is well-suited for dense air traffic areas, such as lower-level continental areas or hot spots around airports and terminal airspace. Together, they are expected to constitute the pillars of a data link multilink concept, although CANSO says this approach of integrating complementary technologies risks failing due to no organization actually “owning” the project.

CANSO therefore believes that the establishment of a common European Datalink Service Provider could prove critical in harmonizing data link provision and governance in Europe. A future DSP is, it insists, the prerequisite to ensure that the required service performance will be systematically met, while at the same time allowing for multiple commercial actors in data link service provision to be seamlessly integrated and charged. Indeed, one additional benefit of the DSP is how it will change the way that DLS is charged across Europe, with a User Pays Principle to be adopted, where each air navigation service provider pays for the service in accordance with its usage, rather than the more arbitrary and fragmented set of rates which is currently employed

Moves are underway to establish such a common provider entity, initially through an initiative known as the ATS Common Datalink Services governance for Europe or ACDLS, with a funded project called CoDE to develop parts of this. Launched in October 2021 by the A6 Alliance — a consortium of ANSPs driving ATM modernization — and Eurocontrol, with the support of the SESAR Deployment Manager, the ACDLS aims to pave the way and accelerate as much as possible the establishment of a Common European Data Link governance within the SES Digital Backbone framework. The agreed schedule foresees the selection of the future DSP by the third quarter of 2022, its establishment in early 2023, and an operational start date of 2025 — earlier if possible.

Establishment of a common European Datalink Service Provider could prove critical in harmonizing data link provision and governance in Europe, according to CANSO.
Establishment of a common European Datalink Service Provider could prove critical in harmonizing data link provision and governance in Europe, according to CANSO.

This European plan seems to mirror the U.S. FAA’s $331 million ATC data link service contract with Harris Corp. in 2012, which required Harris to subcontract with SITA and Collins to use their VHF networks. What is being envisaged is that the European ANSPs will contract with this future single DSP to secure the service they need for CPDLC, and that this single DSP will also contract with SITA and Collins to use the VHF networks they use to provide the airline data link service, as well as all other networks and technologies.

An industry insider told Aerospace Tech Review that the FAA’s expected model was preserved in the Harris subcontract with Collins/ARINC, who retained ownership of their stations, but that the Harris SITA model was different. The Harris-SITA contract provided Harris with SITA’s U.S. VHF ground stations — which used Harris computers — and an ACARS service processor, giving Harris a VHF ACARS network to provide the FAA service. The deal allowed SITA to use the Harris-owned network to provide the service it sold to airlines.

SITA had already done the same in Europe, selling VHF ground stations to many of the ANSPs — including principally DFS in Germany, Spain’s AENA and France’s DSNA — except that they used ATN routers, not a ACARS processor. The SITA deals struck with the European ANSPs also allowed SITA to use the VHF stations to provide airline ACARS service, with the ANSPs contracting in parallel with Collins/ARINC to get data link access to their customer aircraft.

ARINC also sold VHF stations to a few European ANSPs, although far fewer than SITA. Some European ANSPs did not buy stations from either SITA or Collins/ARINC and instead established VHF service contracts with both.

“The problem with all these arrangements in the first generation of European CPDLC implementation,” said the insider, “was that the ANSPs did not create any central organization to ensure the service worked. And when they all turned on CPDLC, they collapsed the VDL network.” It is expected that a future DSP will not change the ownership model of the underlying air-ground technologies, but will serve to harmonize the procurement and provision of the services under one agent for ANSP use.

U. S. Data Comm Program Builds on Early Success

The FAA and European aviation authorities both deliver regular updates on the deployment status of CDPLC. At one of the recent ARINC Data Link Users Forums, the FAA reported that since 2016, its air traffic controllers had cleared more than 10.6 million flights using CPDLC through its Data Comm program, saving 2.73 million minutes of radio time and nearly 2 million minutes of airspace user time, which not only prevented 140,870 readback errors but also saved 22.44 million kilograms of CO2 emissions.

Outlining Data Comm tower benefits between June 2016 and July 2021 last September, Jesse Wijntjes of the FAA and Chris Collings from L3Harris reported that key area control centers in Kansas and Indiana had been fully operational since November 2019, with the Washington control center launching 24/7 operations in March 2020.

They told the forum that although all Data Comm activities for the remaining facilities had been paused due to COVID-19, the U.S. aviation agency was continuing to work on avionics and air-to-ground interoperability and apply the lessons it had already learned to help reduce deployment risk for its remaining 17 area control centers. Indeed, the agency restarted planning and deployment activities in April 2021, although a resurgence in COVID-19 cases has impacted the resumption of deployment activities.

Paul Prisaznuk is head of standards development at ARINC, leading efforts to establish consensus in aviation technical standards. “The main takeaway in the CPDLC community from the most recent updates is the growth and success of CPDLC at major airports throughout the world,” he said, pointing to the communication times saved compared with voice, in addition to reduced delay times in and around airports.

“The outcome of that VDL collapse was that the ATC community designated the SESAR Deployment Manager to technically integrate and harmonize the service provided by the combination of the VHF network elements,” he said. “Now they are creating the single DSP to operate the data link service required by the ANSPs, using the combination of the VHF network elements.” He pointed out that the European ANSPs owning VHF ground stations means the European single DSP will use some stations owned by the ANSPs, so there will likely be a complicated combination of contracts.

The European ANSPs, together with Eurocontrol, established the governance for the ATS Common Data Link Services in October 2021, and its organizational structure provides the mechanisms necessary to procure and select a DSP and also to manage its obligations in service. The governance side is organized in two distinct levels: an executive level, which envisages the presence of the Top Management Body and the DLS Governance Executive Board, with a management level to oversee the DSP as a DMU. The executive and management bodies are responsible for the DLS strategy management, the DLS governance management, and DSP contract compliance monitoring, as well as liaising with users, airspace users and the regulator.

One candidate that could become the common DSP is understood to be the ESSP organization, which is also working with Inmarsat on the British satellite business’s Iris satellite data link program. Toulouse, France-based ESSP styles itself as an “experienced and dynamic company specialized in the operations and provision of satellite-based services to aviation” — providing EGNOS, the satellite-based augmentation system for precise satellite positioning — and already holds a pan-European certification to deliver ATC-grade CNS services. Other organizations will also be in the running for the DSP and some are likely to give ESSP a run for its money.

Eurocontrol will manage the procurement and assessment process in order to select a Datalink Service Provider and it may want its governance to extend over the new data link service provider. Busy terminal at Heathrow shown above.
Eurocontrol will manage the procurement and assessment process in order to select a Datalink Service Provider and it may want its governance to extend over the new data link service provider. Busy terminal at Heathrow shown above.

Eurocontrol will manage the procurement and assessment process in order to select a DSP, as it did for NewPENS, and although ineligible to become wholly or part of a DSP itself, it may well want its governance to extend over the new data link service provider. In fact, one of the aims of the ACDLS, under the SES Digital Backbone initiative, is common governance. The fact that DLS and NewPENS are both key pillars of the SES Backbone could mean significant convergence in terms of governance at the top level.

Inmarsat Flight Trials Recent Flight Trials are Demonstrating that Satcom Has the Capability to Sit Alongside VHF in a Multi-link Capability (with PIC)

Significant progress is being made in Europe through Inmarsat’s Iris project, which is seeking to establish a long-term replacement for VDL. Aerospace Tech Review spoke to Danny Bharj, director of technology programs at Inmarsat Aviation, about the results of the latest flight tests of a modified Alaska Airlines 737-9 being operated by Boeing for its 2021 ecoDemonstrator. Inmarsat is using this to evaluate the use of IPS-based satellite data link communications between pilots and controllers to ensure it can be securely executed.

ATR: How have the flight tests performed?

DB: It’s tremendously exciting to be a part of the Boeing ecoDemonstrator program, which accelerates innovation by taking promising technologies out of the lab and testing them in the air to solve real-world challenges for airlines, passengers, and the environment. As part of the program, Boeing has tested the important new ATN/IPS (Aeronautical Telecommunication Network using Internet Protocol Suite) components for our groundbreaking Iris air traffic modernization solution. It has performed flawlessly during the in-flight evaluation stages. The full results are in the process of being validated by Boeing and are currently not public.

Powered by our 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 data link 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 environmental impact of their operations.

ATN/IPS is currently being finalized as the global standard for air traffic control communications to and from the aircraft. And this is the first time it’s been trialed on 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 and airspace users.

ATR: Boeing selected the Iris solution for testing, as it is closely aligned to its own commitment to reduce the environmental impact of modern aircraft. Can you outline the ways in which IPS-based satellite CPDLC achieves those objectives

DB: Boeing selected Inmarsat for this program in order to evaluate how satellite communications (not just ATN/IPS specifically) can contribute to reducing the environmental impact of aviation. ATN/IPS provides the same benefits as ATN/OSI, with the biggest contribution to sustainable aviation coming from 4D trajectory-based operations and constant descent profiles, which enable more capacity in the airspace and less fuel burn.

In addition to ATN improvement, satellite communications also contribute by providing secure and resilient cockpit connectivity for real-time EFB applications, such as live weather forecasts and satellite-based observation data to create more economical flight plans and adjust them on the go. By evaluating fueling decisions using real-time weather intelligence from en-route aircraft, airlines can also calculate the right amount of fuel to carry, thus reducing the additional fuel burn from carrying superfluous fuel.

Alaska ecoDemonstrator

ATR: How far have the trials demonstrated that satcom has the capability, both from a latency and a capacity point of view, to be able to sit alongside VHF in a multilink capability?

DB: When you analyze the performance of Inmarsat Iris, which uses our SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) platform, it’s on a par with VDL in every aspect except one: We have significantly higher bandwidth of 200kbps versus the 31.5kbps provided by VDL, and more capacity. It’s widely accepted that VDL is nearing capacity in several regions around the world, and that moving to satcom (such as the Iris program in Europe) is a solution to that challenge. Additionally, Inmarsat SwiftBroadband has been proven through decades of use as part of FANS1/A, and our latest service, SB-S, is used by over 215 aircraft in regions across the globe and is meeting or exceeding the required performance for a number of operational uses, including the Four-Minute Mandate in China.

ATR: Have there been any operational issues, considering these trials were the first outside of European airspace?

DB: No operational issues have been experienced during the trials of ATN/IPS. We take our role in aviation safety extremely seriously and have extensively tested the solution not just in our own aviation lab in London, but also in testing with Boeing labs in Seattle prior to it taking flight.

ATR: How has end-to-end Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6) operation — the flight management system and communications management unit through satcom — performed?

DB: Our performance was shown to meet the aviation data link requirements for Europe. We are moving to use the IPv6 standards as defined by SARPS, RTCA, EUROCAE, ICAO and AEEC, which are being written in such a way as to ensure performance is not affected compared to IPv4. The software required for IPS functionality was built specifically for this program, but what issues and small areas may still need to be validated? We may need to update elements as the industry standards activities progress. This functionality was developed on current industry standards and as the new standards are produced, there may be some amendments required.

ATR: How do the results of the demonstration impact on what Iris will be able to perform when it enters into service next year?

DB: Iris will use ATN/OSI operationally next year. ATN/IPS will not be available operationally for a few years yet. Boeing will use ATN/IPS, and the Iris infrastructure will have the capability to support ATN/IPS flight trials in 2023.

SD FlightDeck Freedom Named Default Datalink Provider for New Gulfstream Aircraft

Satcom Direct, the business aviation solutions provider, has announced that its FlightDeck Freedom (FDF) flight deck communications platform has been selected as the default datalink system for in-production Gulfstream G500, Gulfstream G600, and Gulfstream G650ER aircraft with initial line-fits already completed.

Operators of Gulfstream aircraft can now optimize the flexible FDF platform, which includes configurable features and monitoring of industry datalink compliance, to support secure and reliable datalink services between crew,  air traffic control, and ground personnel. The open architecture design facilitates integration with third-party services, including trip planning, as well as a suite of automated features operating in parallel with traditional datalink functions.  Automated alerting improves operations workflow, heightens crew situational awareness and enhances safety, while GeoNotifcations and automated monitoring provide real-time alerts about hazardous situations caused by weather or security related events.  Connectivity reliability for passengers is also bolstered as the FDF platform advises flight crews of sensitive airspace, potential outage or coverage loss situations.

“FlightDeck Freedom is much more than datalink. As part of the SD connectivity eco-system, it keeps the entire flight department and crew synced with the aircraft for more efficient flight operations.  FDF provides critical data to support service monitoring and plays a significant part in communicating dynamic situational changes during flight.  This augmented support for flight crew, ground personnel and passengers raises industry standards by improving safety and compliance levels through bolstered communications, and we are proud that Gulfstream has selected SD for its flight deck service,” said John Kummer, Satcom Direct, VP Strategy and Programs.

Introducing the FDF datalink for the named Gulfstream models furthers the existing relationship between SD and the OEM.  Initiated in 2017, the Gulfstream Connected Services program provides operators with powerful connectivity solutions, and is supported by SD exclusively providing cabin and cockpit service plans. With the introduction of FDF to the flight deck, and as part of the SD connectivity eco-system of software, hardware and infrastructure, Gulfstream operators can now generate a digital footprint of the aircraft history from its born-on date. This digital heritage provides better visibility into aircraft performance, management and operations to deliver an enriched ownership experience.

ICELAND’S ISAVIA ANS OPERATIONAL AIRSPACE WIDE WITH AIREON DATA

Isavia ANS, Iceland’s Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP), has achieved new levels of operational efficiency with expanded use of data from Aireon, a leader in space-based ADS-B for enhanced air traffic surveillance and aviation data analytics.

Isavia ANS has been at the forefront of ADS-B surveillance since 2014 when it first went operational with ground-based data. Isavia ANS has continued its modernization of surveillance with a successful partnership with Aireon, going operational with Aireon data in 2020 in its southern airspace. Now, for the first time ever, thanks to Aireon’s best-in-class ADS-B data, Isavia has surveillance for its entire airspace, which consists of 5.4 million square kilometers of controlled airspace that extends from the North Pole to Scotland and from the prime meridian in Greenwich to west of Greenland.

“The addition of Aireon’s space-based ADS-B in Isavia ANS’s North Sector increases the safety of our service and presents the opportunity for efficiency gains in the future. This implementation adds to Isavia ANS’s current combination of space-based and ground-based ADS-B stations, thus improving Isavia ANS’s existing transatlantic surveillance corridor connecting Europe and North America. Once again, Aireon’s implementation team were exemplary and we are proud to be working with Aireon,” said Kjartan Briem, Isavia ANS CEO.

“Isavia ANS is a perfect candidate for space-based ADS-B, given its location near the pole and oceanic routes. We are proud to partner with Isavia and look forward to seeing all the benefits ADS-B can bring to this airspace,” said Don Thoma, Aireon CEO.

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