Inmarsat, the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, has signed a major contract with the European Space Agency (ESA) to develop satellite communication services that enable 4D trajectory air traffic management in European airspace from 2020.

 

The Iris programme supports the Single European Skies ATM Research (SESAR) masterplan for next-generation air traffic management, which offers a strategic perspective of the critical developments that are required to deliver a high-performing aviation management system for Europe.

 

Iris is intended to provide secure and high bandwidth cockpit communications that are essential to accomplish SESAR’s objectives to optimise airspace, enhance safety and cybersecurity, and reduce flight times, delays and CO2 emissions. Powered by Inmarsat’s new SB-S platform, which is already being deployed by airlines, Iris’s enhanced IP-based capabilities will relieve pressure on currently crowded VHF radio links, which are near capacity.

 

Iris will enable the SESAR key concept of initial ‘4D’ trajectories, pinpointing an aircraft in four dimensions: latitude, longitude, altitude and time. This will enable precise tracking of flights and more efficient management of traffic through Trajectory-based Operations (TBO). TBO allows pilots and controllers to calculate the shortest available routes, cruise at optimum altitudes, and use continuous climb and descent paths, saving fuel and lessening the environmental impact of air travel.