Safety services over SwiftBroadband now one step closer

Cobham's Satcom's Debbie de Beer with the SwiftBroadband antenna for its Aviator S product.
Cobham’s Satcom’s Debbie de Beer with the antenna for its Aviator S product.

The certification of safety services over Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband (called SBB Safety) is a step closer with Cobham SATCOM announcing that the first voice call has been made using its AVIATOR 200S terminal.

The on-air voice call was achieved using the AVIATOR 200S CSDU (Compact Satellite Data Unit) and HELGA (combined HLD and Enhanced LGA) antenna over the Inmarsat LDR (Low Data Rate) bearer type.

Carried out in a laboratory environment, Cobham says the breakthrough represents a significant step forward for the system that should be certified in 2016.

Other milestones were:

  • The first voice call through an AVIATOR 200S CSDU
  • The first IP data session through an AVIATOR 200S CSDU
  • The first ever voice and data calls through a HELGA antenna
  • The first ever voice and data calls through a Class 4 Radio Module
  • The first ever voice and data calls over LDR bearers

SBB Safety enables voice and Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System/Future Air Navigation Systems (ACARS/FANS) data transmissions when aircraft are flying over oceans, improving safety and efficiency in oceanic airspace.

The system enables the fast and efficient transfer of data messages using Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband connectivity via a secure, dedicated “pipe” to the cockpit. The ACARS message is encapsulated into an IP “message”, which is then stripped out on the ground before being fed into the ACARS data network (in this case ARINC’s).

The combination of IP and ACARS data pipes allows network integration with a portfolio of data housing and transmitting components on the aircraft such as cockpit, Electronic Flight Bag devices (EFB), onboard maintenance computers and devices used by the crew to service passengers.

Inmarsat says Hawaiian Airlines became the first commercial airline to fly with its SwiftBroadband (SBB) Safety service on its Boeing 767-300 fleet during testing this year.

Kim Gram, Vice President of Cobham SATCOM’s aeronautical business unit, said: “The first call is particularly significant as it represents a new solution running on a new service – a double first! Our teams in Lyngby and Cape Town have worked hard to achieve this impressive landmark. This is a very big step towards our first customer shipment, and shows that we are on track for release of AVIATOR 200S as planned.

“We believe the significantly smaller, lighter and easier to install hardware associated with the SwiftBroadband ACARS data services, represented by our AVIATOR S series product range, will provide aircraft manufacturers and airlines with a route towards significant changes in operational efficiencies and, not least, in flight situation awareness and safety.”

Mary McMillan, Vice President of Aviation Safety and Operational Services at Inmarsat, said: “We congratulate our partner Cobham SATCOM on the achievement represented by the first successful call. Powered by Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband – Safety, the AVIATOR 200S represents a major advancement of satcom technology and, together, provide the next generation aviation safety communications platform for the global aviation community.”

Smaller, lighter and more cost-effective than current sat com systems, Cobham also says AVIATOR 200S reduces the number of LRUs on the aircraft from four to two.

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