Inmarsat, the global, mobile satellite communications provider, has agreed a partnership with the European Satellite Services Provider (ESSP) to manage final testing, certification and integration for the Iris air traffic modernisation programme, in preparation for the service’s commercial rollout across Europe by 2023. The agreement was announced on 27 October during this year’s World ATM Congress taking place in Madrid.
Iris has been developed by Inmarsat and the European Space Agency (ESA) to enable real-time collaboration between pilots, air traffic controllers and an airline’s operation centre using cost-effective, secure and highly resilient datalink communications. In addition to receiving digital information such as weather updates, this means aircraft can be pinpointed in four dimensions – latitude, longitude, altitude and time – using ‘4D trajectories’ to calculate the shortest available routes and optimum altitudes. This not only improves airspace usage to accommodate future growth, but also allows airlines across Europe to minimise delays, save fuel and reduce the environmental impact of their operations.
“There is monumental support within the aviation industry for modernising air traffic management. The benefits for airlines and passengers are vast, from faster and more efficient flight routes with fewer delays, to improvements in environmental efficiencies, including reduced fuel usage and carbon emissions,” said John Broughton, Inmarsat’s Senior Vice President of Aircraft Operations and Safety Services. “The Iris programme will be transformational in this regard and our new agreement with ESSP brings us one step closer to European rollout, expected in the next couple of years. Inmarsat already has a successful track record of working closely with ESSP and we are delighted to further expand on this partnership.”
As a pan-European aviation service provider, ESSP, which was founded in 2009 by seven leading Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) from France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and the UK, will focus primarily on technical and service delivery preparations for the Iris programme’s upcoming deployment, including approvals from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Charlotte Neyret, CEO, ESSP added, that the Iris programme is a game-changer for the aviation industry, “providing the most advanced new technology to complement datalink communications and meet the challenge of digital, greener and sustainable air travel. ESSP has been working on this important programme with Inmarsat and ESA for several years and we are proud to now expand our involvement. We will provide the full range of ESSP’s expertise in implementing and operating mission-critical services to ensure that Iris will offer the highest quality of service to all aviation stakeholders.”
The Iris programme is powered by Inmarsat’s ELERA global satellite network. ELERA capabilities will be enhanced further with the upcoming addition of Inmarsat-6 satellites, the largest and most sophisticated commercial communications satellites ever built, the first of which is scheduled to launch before the end of the year.
Header image: The Inmarsat, ESSP and ESA teams announce their new agreement at World ATM Congress 2021 in Madrid.