Inmarsat, the world leader in global mobile satellite communications, today announced that it has received final approval from the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for its SB-S digital airline operations and safety platform.
The FAA has validated the capability of Inmarsat SB-S to support air traffic services by providing direct datalink communication between pilots and Air Traffic Control (ATC). The letter of approval highlights the future potential of this ‘first-of-its-kind’ service, stating that SB-S technology “provides diversity and potential for advances of capability that will further maximise operational benefits and ensure safety”. The endorsement follows a recommendation last year from the FAA’s Performance Based Operations Aviation Rulemaking Committee (PARC).
FAA approval follows an extensive live evaluation of SB-S by Hawaiian Airlines and United Airlines, which took place between June 2015 and July 2018 on approximately 25,000 flights and seven aircraft types. Inmarsat partners in the evaluation included Cobham Aerospace Communications, Collins Aerospace, SITAONAIR, ASG and L2.
China’s Shenzhen Airlines is also using SB-S and Inmarsat’s digital airline operations platform has been selected by Airbus as a Light Cockpit Satcom (LCS) line fit solution on its A320 and A330 families.
Combining cutting-edge satellite technology with secure IP connectivity, SB-S is the world’s first and only global broadband solution for aircraft operational and safety communications, driving digital transformation in the airline industry.
SB-S’s real-time IP connectivity delivers powerful benefits to airlines. Operational advantages include enhanced fleet and crew management, predictive maintenance, disruption management and aircraft health monitoring via Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) applications, which can significantly reduce flight delays and fuel consumption. Safety benefits include improved communications with ATC, digital data and voice communications, and flight data recorder streaming (also known as Black Box in the CloudTM). Flight plans and arrivals can also be optimised by pinpointing aircraft in four dimensions, known as four dimensional (4D) operations, which include latitude, longitude, altitude and time.
The IP solution provided by Inmarsat’s SB-S is also essential to air traffic modernisation programmes, such as the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) masterplan and NextGen in the U.S. In addition, Inmarsat’s SB-S powers Iris, a ground-breaking project by Inmarsat and the European Space Agency (ESA) that uses satellite-based datalink communication to enhance and modernise air traffic management over European airspace.
Inmarsat is the only aviation satcom provider authorised to provide aviation safety and operational services globally, including in China and India.
Philip Balaam, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said: “SB-S sets an unprecedented new standard for aviation operational and safety communications, ensuring the industry can take full advantage of the only IP-based solution available now to meet its existing and future requirements. Receiving the FAA’s final approval is a milestone of huge significance, reinforcing Inmarsat’s global market leadership and validating the potential of SB-S to maximise operational efficiency and assure safety for many years to come.”
The SB-S digital aircraft operations platform is powered by Inmarsat’s advanced global L-band satellite network, which has underpinned safety services for 40 years. Inmarsat is scheduled to launch two additional L-band payloads in 2020 and 2021, further cementing its long-term commitment to offering highly reliable services over this spectrum.
NOTES TO EDITORS: The London School of Economics (LSE) has published a research study placing the value of digital aircraft operations, such as those provided by SB-S, at $15B annually by 2035. The full report, with more about the operational savings potential, is here.
Inmarsat’s Aviation Certified Application Providers (CAP) Programme delivers a wide range of operational applications that deliver cost savings to airlines. Learn more here.
Inmarsat is the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications. It owns and operates the world’s best global portfolio of satellite networks, specifically designed for customer mobility, and holds a multi-layered, global spectrum portfolio, covering L-band, Ka-band and S-band, enabling unparalleled breadth and diversity in the solutions it provides. Inmarsat’s long established global distribution network includes not only the world’s leading channel partners but also its own strong direct retail capabilities, enabling end to end customer service assurance. The company has an unrivalled track record of operating the world’s most reliable global mobile satellite networks, sustaining business and mission critical safety & operational applications for 40 years. It is also a major driving force behind technological innovation in mobile satellite communications, sustaining its leadership through a substantial investment and a powerful network of technology and manufacturing partners. Inmarsat operates across a diversified portfolio of sectors with the financial resources to fund its business strategy and holds leading positions in the Maritime, Government and Aviation satcoms markets, operating consistently as a trusted, responsive and high quality partner to its customers across the globe.