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Design of a standard for satellite-based aeronautical communications

Acronym:    IRIS
Funder:    European Space Agency
Company:    INDRA Espacio
Start date:    2009 September 1st
End date:    2012 December 31st
Keywords:    aeronautical communications
Partners:    INDRA Espacio
SPCOM Participants:    Meritxell Lamarca Orozco, Francesc Rey Micolau, Jaume Riba Sagarra, Josep Sala Alvarez, Gregori Vázquez Grau and Javier Villares Piera
SPCOM Responsible:    Francesc Rey Micolau


Our reserach group will address the design and evaluation of physical layer and multiple access techniques for the forward and return links of the IRIS system.

The future European Air Traffic Management (ATM) is currently being defined by the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) programme.

In the SESAR Definition phase, the need to evolve from voice based communications toward data links between the aircraft flight management system and the ground Air Traffic Control (ATC) and Airline Operations Centre (AOC) systems is clearly stated. It has driven the requirement for a dual link solution to guarantee the necessary availability and capacity, especially over dense traffic areas. This dual link is expected to include a terrestrial and a satellite-based component. Accordingly, Research and Development for new satellite based Air/Ground datalink has been recommended in the ATM Master Plan, resulting from the SESAR Definition Phase (2006-2008) and endorsed by the EU Transport Council. In particular, the need for new performance standards, which calls for a new ATM-dedicated satellite communication standard and supporting satellite capacity, is widely shared among stakeholders. The ATM Master Plan however only indicates the set of solutions to be further evaluated and possibly validated. The choice concerning which technologies to deploy is to be made later by the EC on the basis of the aviation community recommendations.

In parallel with this Ph B development, the Agency is sponsoring studies with potential operators and on the evolution of commercial satellite communication standards, to provide the future users with a range of credible choices and a competitive environment.

Because the aviation world operates on a global basis, any new ATM solution must be supported and coordinated on a worldwide basis; this requires ICAO standardisation and coordination with the international stakeholders leading to support for the new standard. Through ICAO standardisation, Iris will promote a European developed standard and the associated technology on the worldwide market.

In parallel, the overall satellite communication system infrastructure needs to be designed. This will only be regional (e.g. covering Europe) at this stage, but it is fundamental to guarantee aircraft
avionics and ground segment interoperability with other systems so that aircraft can fly seamlessly and transparently from one regional system to the next.

The European regional system must be designed and specified according to the SESAR requirements and ready for deployment during the SESAR deployment phase (2014-2020) with the aim to start operations in 2020.