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Press Release: Thales, SITAONAIR partner on data link solutions


At World ATM Congress 2017, Thales, world leader in Air Traffic Management, and SITAONAIR, the air travel industry’s trusted connected aircraft service expert, signed an agreement to develop and promote ATC data link solutions. This agreement continues their long-standing collaboration on data link solutions.

Data link is one of the key axes of the connectivity curve, which all operators in the ATM field agree will be a revolution in the market. Data link enables pilots, controllers and towers to share and send information though connected cockpit and ATC systems. By having the ATC systems communicate directly with the avionics, controllers and pilots will no longer need to rely on voice-only communications, but will be able to share exact data, inputted directly in their systems, reducing the time between a command being given and actioned, the number of human errors and the workload during the most stressful portions of the mission (take-off and landing).

The agreement reiterates Thales’s and SITAONAIR’s commitment on the joint Data Link Front-End Processor (DL-FEP) solution being developed to address the data link services rule of the Single European Sky programme. The DL-FEP consists of Context Management and Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) applications associated with ATC automation systems.1 The DL-FEP product is already providing or will soon be providing operational Data Link services for EUROCONTROL MUAC2, US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS), skyguide and UK NATS.  Additionally, the DL-FEP is currently being enhanced to support the SESAR 2020 I4D Very Large Scale Demonstrations.

The agreement also covers joint promotion and marketing of Thales ProATN products to air navigation service providers. The ProATN product line includes ATN3 Air-to-Ground routers, Ground-to-Ground routers and associated tools that support the routing of data link messages among software applications and air-to-ground radio sites to facilitate communication of messages between users.  ProATN is the most widely used ATN router supporting the SITAONAIR AIRCOM® ATN Service since 2004 as well as nearly all major ANSP ATN ground infrastructures. Almost all ATN CPDLC messages cross at least one ProATN router during transmission.

We are pleased to be reiterating our commitment to delivering data link solutions of the future with our partner Thales. The development of our joint DL-FEP product, by responding to the European Commission’s mandate, represents an essential step towards the realization of the Single European Sky. François Bardin, Head of Air Traffic Service Solutions, SITAONAIR

Notes to editors
It uses FANS-1/A and ATN over VDLm2 air/ground Data Link technology in the upper airspace of the European Union

CPDLC is a method by which pilots and controllers communicate through digital data messages to replace conventional voice communications over busy and congested VHF radio frequencies. The expected benefit is an increase in sector capacity, resulting in cost reductions and capacity gains for future traffic growth. CPDLC also offers critical benefits in terms of safety by supplementing traditional controller pilot voice communications, without loss of information or misunderstandings.

EUROCONTROL is a pan European service provider that handles airspace across 41 counties.
Aeronautical Telecommunication Network (ATN) is an internetwork architecture that allows ground/ground, air/ground, and avionic data subnetworks to interoperate by adopting common interface services and protocols based on the ISO OSI Reference Model.  The European part of ATN used for ground/ground communications is represented by PENS.

About Thales ATM

The world’s largest footprint:

340 TopSky ATM solutions, 7,000 Navaids, 680 radars, 1,800 ADS-B/MLAT stations, and over 16,000 controllers utilising Thales solutions.
Two out of three aircraft take off, reach their destination and land thanks to Thales’s systems.
Participating in all 3 major initiatives for the restructuring of global ATM: Number 1 industrial partner to SESAR, involved in NextGen and ICAO Block Upgrades, Thales fully integrates all of these evolutions in its product roadmap.

About Thales

Thales is a global technology leader for the Aerospace, Transport, Defence and Security markets. With 62,000 employees in 56 countries, Thales reported sales of €14 billion in 2015. With over 25,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design and deploy equipment, systems and services to meet the most complex security requirements. Its exceptional international footprint allows it to work closely with its customers all over the world.


SITAONAIR is the air travel industry’s trusted connected aircraft service expert. With its unrivalled industry-backed heritage, SITAONAIR empowers 400+ airlines, 14,000+ aircraft and 30+ operators to navigate the complexity of connectivity and unlock connected aircraft value. We work in partnership with the air travel community, helping support its digital transformation, to unlock the true value of data, grow ancillary revenues, and enhance the passenger experience, operational efficiency and airline safety. Our co-created solutions for passengers, cockpit and cabin crew, and aircraft data management, equip the industry to address the challenges and value-generating opportunities it presents. We support Air Navigation Service Providers in defining and implementing next generation solutions of Air Traffic Management.

SITAONAIR is a subsidiary of The SITA Group, which is airline-owned and airline focused. Find out more by visiting www.sitaonair.aero

Featured image credited to istock.com/JakeOlimb