Beginning May 2017, Shenzhen Airlines will launch its in-flight evaluation of SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S), Inmarsat’s next generation IP-based broadband service for the flight deck. The SB-S platform, which will be installed on Shenzhen’s Airbus 320 aircraft using Cobham avionics’ AVIATOR 300D hardware, will deliver powerful and flexible in-flight communications and secure, real-time, in-air information to enhance Shenzhen’s safety, security and operational capabilities – both in the air and on the ground.
The Shenzhen partnership is part of a joint venture between Inmarsat, Beijing Marine Communication & Navigation Company, Ltd. (MCN) and Aviation Data Communication Corporation (ADCC) to provide aviation safety services to the rapidly growing Chinese market. Under this partnership, MCN and ADCC will deliver satellite voice, ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing & Reporting System) and data services. MCN will serve as project manager for Shenzhen’s SB-S evaluation process.
In addition to compliance with the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) mandates CCAR 121 and AC-121, Shenzhen Airlines will focus its evaluation on three core SB-S satellite communication (satcom) capabilities, including:
- Satellite Voice (satvoice) Communications – Two-channel satellite-based services that enable faster and high-quality voice communication between the flight deck crew and its designated contacts on the ground, including air traffic controllers and airline operations personnel.
- Integral Global Flight Tracking – This enhanced, live tracking feature pinpoints an aircraft’s location through regular transmission of position reports. SB-S flight tracking enables the airline and Air Traffic Control (ATC) to know where the aircraft is and to understand its status in real time, which is essential for both safety and delivery of fuel-efficient flight.
- ACARS Over IP – Traditionally used to communicate with both the Airline Operations Centre and ATC, this short-text capability over IP is a prerequisite for FANS 1/A compliance in remote oceanic areas.
Shenzhen Airlines also will be able to take advantage of other SB-S platform features, including real-time electronic flight bag applications, such as networked graphical weather and, ultimately, flight data streaming (“Black Box in the Cloud”). And, in addition to providing critical flight safety solutions, its high-speed communications capabilities also allow SB-S to deliver operational savings to airlines in the form of reduced fuel costs, improved efficiency and enhanced security. A recent study by Helios showed that satellite communications has already delivered US$3 billion in benefits to airlines to date (see link below).
Through its SB-S evaluation, Shenzhen Airlines is preparing for China’s explosive growth in passenger demand, which, according the International Air Transport Association (IATA)*, is expected to more than double over the next 20 years. IATA also predicts that China will displace the United States as the world’s largest aviation market around 2024*. Much of this demand will be for international travel and Shenzhen is anticipating this demand by employing next generation satellite connectivity, which allows aircraft to travel in oceanic areas and across remote continental areas where terrestrial networks are not established. These satellite-based capabilities will allow Shenzhen to offer passengers a vastly wider range of service destinations that, until now, could not be realized due to the decades-old limitations of traditional, ground-based communications.
Captain Shao Bin, Vice President of Operations for Shenzhen Airlines, said: “As China’s skies become more crowded and advanced flight-tracking capabilities become a necessity in the region’s airspace, Shenzhen wants to be at the forefront of this exciting next chapter of aviation history. We look forward to evaluating SwiftBroadband-Safety as a pioneering, satellite-based connectivity solution that will enable Shenzhen to offer enhanced safety, increased capacity and more efficient operations to our passengers – both in China and beyond.”
Song Zhen, Vice President of MCN, said: “As a leading maritime satellite operator in China, MCN is committed to providing safety communication services to China’s growing aviation industry. It is the first time that a Chinese aircraft will be equipped with the
SB-S satcom technology platform, and we look forward to working with Inmarsat and other partners to provide the best service for Shenzhen Airlines in accordance with laws set forth by CAAC.”
Zhu Yanbo, Vice President of ADCC, said, “As the organization jointly established by Air Traffic Management Bureau of CAAC and the major airlines in China, we especially appreciate Shenzhen’s evaluation of SB-S, as they are our country’s first airline to do so. As the air-ground datalink service provider for China’s airspace, ADCC will work closely with MCN and Inmarsat to not only deliver SwiftBroadband-
Captain Mary McMillan, Vice President of Safety and Operational Services at Inmarsat’s Aviation business unit, said: “As China continues its path toward becoming the world’s largest passenger aviation nation,” Shenzhen is making an important move to ensure it is ready to not only expand its domestic service offerings but also meet Chinese passengers’ growing demand for international travel. As the trusted provider of aviation safety and operational services, Inmarsat is excited to work with Shenzhen and our partners to understand how SB-S can optimise their flight deck and aircraft operations as they enter this exciting new era in Chinese aviation.”
Cheng-Yu Tang, General Manager, ChinaCobham SATCOM, said: “Shenzhen’s decision to evaluate SB-S demonstrates that one of the China’s largest airlines has full confidence in the performance of our AVIATOR 300D system and the Inmarsat SB-S platform. We are excited about this latest opportunity to contribute to the ongoing evaluation of SwiftBroadband-Safety as it also supports our development of communication technologies to meet the future needs of the aviation community.”
Inmarsat plc is the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services. Since 1979, Inmarsat has been providing reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organizations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air. Inmarsat operates around the world, with a presence in the major ports and centres of commerce on every continent. Inmarsat is listed on the London Stock Exchange (ISAT.L). For more information, please visit www.inmarsat.com. The Inmarsat press release newsfeed and corporate updates are on @InmarsatGlobal.
A recent study published by Helios shows satellite communication has delivered US$3 billion in benefits to airlines thanks to improved air traffic control and operational efficiencies. Learn more about the Helios study and download here. In June 2016, Airbus announced it selected SwiftBroadband-Safety and Cobham’s AVIATOR S series avionics for the cockpit safety communications solution for its popular A320 and A330 families of aircraft. Recently, Inmarsat, Cobham and Hawaiian Airlines announced that SwiftBroadband-Safety and Cobham avionics had enabled in-air Electronic Flight bag connectivity for the first time with Hawaiian Airlines. Watch Hawaiian Airlines pilots and Flight Operations leadership talk about the benefits of IP broadband in the flight deck in this video. ‘SwiftBroadband-Safety: The Future of Aircraft Communications’ can be downloaded here. ‘Black Box in the Cloud Solutions’ can be downloaded here.
About Cobham SATCOM
Cobham is a leading global technology and services innovator, respected for providing solutions to the most challenging problems, from deep space to the depths of the ocean. Providing dependable communications and internet access anywhere under the most demanding conditions. Our satellite and radio communication terminals perform in the most challenging and remote environments on land, at sea and in the air. We design and manufacture these high performance products under the AVIATOR, EXPLORER, SAILOR and Sea Tel brands providing customers with outstanding performance, value and support through our global sales and service network. For further information please visit www.cobham.com/satcom.