Global satellite communications provider Inmarsat has signed agreements with five major air navigation service providers (ANSP) in support of the Iris program, which aims to modernize air traffic management across Europe. The groups—Germany’s DFS, ENAIRE (Spain), ENAV (Italy), NATS (UK), and Eurocontrol MUAC (consisting of Northwest Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands), which together handle the majority of European air traffic—will join an initial operational capability pilot, marking a milestone in the implementation of Iris.
This program is a partnership with the European Space Agency (ESA), led by Inmarsat, to establish secure, high-bandwidth communications over Europe, with the aim of deploying more digital controller-pilot communications to improve the speed and accuracy of air traffic management (ATM) in the region’s congested airspace. According to Inmarsat, once the program is implemented, ANSPs will be able to use the certified, sustainable datalink to increase ATM efficiency, relieve ATC workload, and enhance flight safety.
It will also enable 4D trajectories, which will pinpoint an aircraft according to latitude, longitude, altitude, and time, satisfying one of the major criteria of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) program. Because of this precise flight tracking, controllers will be able to calculate shortest available routes and allow crews to cruise at optimum altitudes and use continuous climb and descent paths to reduce delays and save fuel.
“The satellite-based Iris system is a key element for a successful implementation in Europe of the Air Traffic Management Data Link Services, with the outlook to become a global worldwide solution,” said Magali Vaissiere, ESA’s director of telecommunications and integrated applications.