SwiftBroadband Safety makes maiden flight

Hawaiian Airlines has become the first commercial airline to fly with UK satellite business Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband Safety service on its Boeing 767-300 fleet, after the Supplemental Type Certificate for the service was awarded.

The SwiftBroadband-based service also supports flight deck voice services and provides dedicated IP connectivity to the cockpit, enabling access to new applications, which can increase safe and efficient operations in oceanic airspace, such as Electronic Flight Bags and flight data transmission.

It can also transmit four-dimensional position reports, enabling airlines to meet the ICAO mandate for sub-15 minute tracking of all aircraft.

SwiftBroadband Safety will provide an enhanced version of Inmarsat’s Classic Aero service, enabling Air Navigation Service Providers and Air Traffic Management to receive and transmit data and messages, such as ‘Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Contract’ (ADS-C) and ‘Controller Pilot Datalink Communications’ (CPDLC), faster and more efficiently. More than 10,000 commercial aircraft currently use Inmarsat Classic Aero services for secure communications.

Captain Mary McMillan, Inmarsat Aviation’s vice president for safety and operational services, said: “This first commercial flight of a SwiftBroadband Safety equipped aircraft will be a key milestone in the launch of this exciting new safety service.

“We are very proud that the trials have been conducted in collaboration with a leading airline like Hawaiian, and of our successful partnership with aviation technology pioneers Rockwell Collins, Cobham and L2.

“The service is part of our long-term commitment to continuous innovation and investment to meet the growing demand for quality broadband to the aircraft and the cockpit, and to improve safety and efficiency in oceanic airspace. This is the first time air navigation service providers are able to experience the performance of the terminal, using our leading satellite communications offering.”

Kim Gram, vice president of Cobham SATCOM’s aeronautical business unit, said: “We are very pleased to announce this significant STC, which allows communication of ACARS data over SwiftBroadband, and means we can continue with the scheduled installation of the Cobham systems on the rest of the HAL fleet and enables us to measure the quality of the communication and present this information to the authorities to attain a formal approval of SBB as a safety service.

“SBB has previously only been a service for cabin entertainment, which is why this agreement with HAL is important in successfully proving the benefits of SBB satcom with ACARS data capability to the cockpit, such as increased bandwidth capabilities for air traffic control and operational capabilities to the cockpit. Using SwiftBroadband IP connectivity for all domains of the aircraft will provide safer and more efficient flights.”

“Rockwell Collins is proud to be involved in enabling another aviation first for flight safety as well as helping our vision of the connected aircraft become a reality,” said David Poltorak, vice president, aviation and network services for Rockwell Collins.

“Beyond enhancing safety, the growth of broadband connectivity for the flight deck will provide exciting opportunities to bring new flight-enhancing operations and cockpit services to airlines. Many of these services will require significant amounts of data to be delivered to and from the aircraft, which we are well positioned to handle now and in the future.”

“SwiftBroadband Safety will have a significant impact on our flight operations,”said Ken Rewick, vice president of flight operations for Hawaiian Airlines. 

“In addition to gaining an upgraded path to FANS (Future Air Navigation System), we’re also in a position to implement Electronic Flight Bag and Airline Operational Communication applications such as timely weather updates, reroutes and fuel planning over a broadband channel.  As a long time Rockwell Collins customer, we are pleased to be using the ARINC aviation communications network to enable this important evaluation.”

Mark Lebovitz, president of L2 Consulting Services, said; “We are motivated to support improved aviation safety services, so we developed a Supplemental Type Certification to approve the new high speed Inmarsat datalink and position reporting communication option.”

The service now begins the phase of in-use monitoring allowing Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) to assess performance against the ICAO ‘GOLD’ FANS datalink standard. This assessment is made under the auspices of the FAA PARC group and, as further operators become equipped, in other ICAO regional groups. ESA provided essential support to the work programme in its development phase.

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