France’s DNSP becomes sixth ANSP to join Inmarsat’s Iris program

Yesterday, Inmarsat announced that France’s Air Navigation Services Provider (ANSP), DSNA, has joined a consortium of providers to support the development of the Iris program. DSNA become the sixth ANSP to lend support to the development and rollout of the combined Inmarsat and ESA initiative.

Iris program
The Iris program has a sixth ANSP on board. Photo: Inmarsat

John Broughton, SVP of Aircraft Operations and Safety at Inmarsat Aviation said in a press release,

“With the commercial implementation phase of Iris underway, we are delighted to have DSNA – another leading European ANSP – onboard with us to support delivery of this ground-breaking project. Iris is fundamental to the future of aviation and with the support of a growing allegiance of ANSPs and European partners, the program will revolutionize air traffic management and enable secure, high bandwidth datalink communications over Europe.”

The Iris program

In March 2018, Inmarsat signed a contract with the European Space Agency to modernize air traffic management across the continent. The program aims to develop satellite communication services which will enable four dimensional ATM in European airspace to make future aviation movements safer and more efficient.

The Iris program is instrumental in moving towards next generation ATM. It intends to provide secure and high bandwidth cockpit communications, in a bid to optimize airspace, increase safety and add essential cybersecurity to all air movements. The effect of the program will be to reduce flight times, combat delays and reduce associated CO2 emissions from aviation.

Using Inmarsat’s existing SB-S platform, a system already being deployed by many airlines, the IP capabilities of Iris will help to bring relief to the pressurized and overcrowded VHF radio links used in ATM. Inmarsat says these systems are already nearing capacity, therefore a new solution is essential for the future.

France becomes the sixth European partner

By November 2018, Inmarsat had already secured the support of five major ANSP for the Iris program. These were Germany’s DFS, ENAIRE (Spain), ENAV (Italy), NATS (UK), and Eurocontrol MUAC (consisting of Northwest Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands). Between them, these ANSP handle the bulk of air traffic in Europe.

The addition of France’s DSNA brings more capabilities and strength to this promising program. Their role will include capturing performance data from pilot flight demonstrations. Inmarsat say that this is critical, as DSNA operates the busiest section of European airspace.

Inmarsat Iris
Iris aims to make ATM safer and more efficient. Photo: Inmarsat

The consortium of ANSP are all participating in an Initial Operating Capability (IOC) pilot with Inmarsat and the ESA. As well as informing the development of Iris going forward, the participation of these agencies will be beneficial to them too, as they will be more prepared for the rollout and commercial service introduction.

Maurice Georges, CEO of DSNA commented,

“Iris has the potential to deliver the additional data-link bandwidth beyond VDL mode 2 to cope with increasing data-link data volume as European airspace continues to get busier. We now need to assess how this new system can secure the future CPDLC performance, hence enabling new SESAR applications like 4D trajectories. For this reason, we are pleased to be involved in this ambitious and agenda-setting programme along with other major ANSPs.”

Full commercial service of Iris is scheduled to begin in around 2021 – 2022.

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