A revolution in the sky

A genuine game-changer in flight deck solutions, SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) will enable everything from safer operations and improved fuel efficiency to better communications and optimised fleet performance. The shift in technology is comparable to that which consumers experienced when they moved from analogue phones to smartphones.

SB-S is a natural evolution of our Classic Aero services which have served airlines for over 25 years. Classic Aero is currently the market-leading voice and data safety service, used by more than 200 major airlines, jet operators and government agencies.

When it launched in June 1991, Classic Aero expanded the number of aircraft to safely fly over the world’s oceans at any one time by 300%. Over the last two decades it has proved to be extremely capable and reliable but technology has changed and today, SB-S promises to once again revolutionise the safe flight of airplanes through the skies.

A powerful and versatile upgrade

SB-S is the most powerful and versatile satellite communications solution for the cockpit. Multiple voice channels allow flight crew members to hold conversations at the same time – and the call quality is as clear as using a mobile phone or a landline.

Three types of connections ensure that SB-S is unique among satellite communications systems.

With Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) over IP, the powerful Air Traffic Services applications that have enabled the expansion of oceanic airspace by over 300% will be faster, stronger, and more reliable. An IP channel allows Airline Administrative Control (AAC) and Aeronautical Operational Control (AOC) applications to provide passenger information to the destination. And the prioritised IP connection will bring real-time data streaming, position reporting, and power the Electronic Flight Bag.

The benefits of real-time data

The data transmission itself will be far superior. There will be far more bandwidth over two channels, one for high priority information, and the other for lower priorities.

Global flight tracking will allow airlines to benefit from near real-time reporting of aircraft latitude, longitude, altitude, true heading, and groundspeed. Support for real-time medical emergency applications such as remote diagnoses will help avoid medical diversions. Real-time graphic weather will mean that planes can adjust their course to avoid bad weather as it happens. Flight data monitoring, quality assurance, exceedance alerts and fuel use monitoring can help reduce delays and hence reduce compensation claims, unplanned maintenance, fuel bills, and even offer the potential for real-time intervention in developing safety or security situations. Less fuel burned saves the environment from unnecessary emissions, shrinking aviation’s carbon footprint globally.

Competitive advantage

Better data isn’t just about helping the pilot. Today’s planes have more sensors on them than ever before – the A380 has around 6,000 across the plane, capturing every detail of its operation, while the average B787 produces up to 500GB of data per flight. These are rich sources of information to optimise fleet performance, which in turn can lead to competitive advantage.

With SB-S, aircraft health and performance data is beamed to the ground in real time, which improves predictive maintenance and can make on-the-ground turnarounds faster. SB-S enables aircraft positional surveillance via ADS-C, and can support a higher frequency of positional reporting. This is particularly important over the ocean – to make sure that aircraft can always be tracked when out of radio range.

Fortress door data security

Only Inmarsat can prioritise broadband data to the cockpit, providing segregation between regulated safety services and cabin communications. This data segregation creates a virtual “fortress door,” ensuring the highest levels of information security. While offering a robust level of encryption and security, it also means that the demand for passenger or other data will not affect the safety-critical cockpit data.

Diagnosing distress data

In the near future, ICAO will launch the Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS), a flight-tracking mandate for all new aircraft to help prevent the loss if aircraft in distress. Working closely with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband-Safety will help airlines lay the foundation for GADSS, as on-board equipment can identify an abnormality in flight, triggering one-minute position reporting and allowing Flight Data Recorder information to stream off the aircraft in real time, called “Black Box in the Cloud”. The result: authorities will have a drastically reduced search and rescue radius, as well as the critical information leading up to an event.

The new industry gold standard

SwiftBroadband–Safety is the only system of its kind and, like Classic Aero, it will be the industry gold standard. With the number of aircraft in the sky set to double in the next 20 years, SB-S – which will cover all the major global air routes – is ready to power next generation air traffic modernisation programmes like Iris, SESAR, and NextGen.


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