Teledyne and Panasonic are working together to move more data to and from an aircraft via 3G, 4G, Wi-FI and even Ku-band satellites.
The companies announced in October 2015 that they were developing an integrated connectivity solution that will enable real-time operational aircraft data transfers during flight.
At the 2016 Aircraft eEnablement Connectivity and IFE Conference, delegates learned the companies will combine Teledyne’s Wireless GroundLink Comm+ product suite with Panasonic’s Global Communications Service to provide cost-effective connectivity during flight or at the gate.
“The value was that most of the aircraft involved were already equipped with our Ku-band systems,” said Al McGowan, Sr. Director, Corporate Strategy and Business Development, Panasonic Avionics Corporation.
“With the launch of more Ku-band spot-beam High Throughput Satellites (HTS) in 2016 and 2017, bandwidth will increase exponentially.”
McGowan said Panasonic currently has around 1,100 Ku-band equipped aircraft in service with more than 2,600 committed to enter service.
Teledyne says it has 166 customers using its GroundLink system, accumulating 110 million flight hours. Around 75% of the aircraft have been OEM factory-installed. These include Airbus A320, A330, A380, and Boeing 737, 777 and 737-8.
Willie Cecil, Business Development Director, Teledyne Controls, said: “Downloading data on the ground has been very successful with GroundLink and airborne datalink is the next logical step.”
Cecil said that security was an issue and not a trivial topic. He said there are actually four different aircraft network domains.
- ACD – Aircraft Control Domain
- AISD – Airline Information Services Domain
- PIESD – Passenger Information and Entertainment Services Domain
- PODD – Passenger-Owned Devices Domain
“There is this big concern about different conflicting philosophies that you should never connect the various domains together,” Cecil said.
He added: “I’m not going to trivialise the security issues surrounding cabin and cockpit networks, but we are going to connect these domains – we believe it is feasible and doable.
“The future path is to be able to download flight data via a satellite network to flight operations. We have an ACARS over IP function available.
“But our next step is to be able to download ACARS data via a GSM cellular link to an airline’s operations department when the aircraft is on the ground,” Cecil said.
Teledyne is also working with Panasonic to enable the satellite uplink of EFB updates, such as graphical weather, to the aircraft.
“We also have the opportunity of loading IFE data onto an aircraft wirelessly, so speeding up the process and avoiding engineers having to use ‘sneakernet’,” McGowan said.
Cecil said that cabin IFE content delivery can also be done via 3G, 4G and Wi-Fi and with cellular costs coming down it is becoming more feasible.
He said that in testing completed by Teledyne, it was possible to upload up to 1Gb of data in five minutes over an High Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA) enhanced 3G network.
McGowan concluded: “The goal with either a Wi-Fi and/or a Panasonic GCS Ku-band connection is to be able to upload more IFE content to the aircraft wirelessly.”