High in the sky, a U.S. general is in flight to attend meetings at the Pentagon when an unexpected development forces the flight to divert to an undisclosed location. The re-routing requires the crew to immediately contact a command post via an air/ground data link to compute a new flight plan. Once completed, the flight plan is immediately uplinked to the aircraft and in minutes, the general is en route to the new destination.
Such real-life scenarios require real-time satellite communications (SATCOM) services that are reliable, flexible and secure. Through our longstanding partnership with Inmarsat – a trusted relationship dating back a quarter-century – we are able to deliver this seamless experience our government customers demand.
Rockwell Collins provides the full spectrum of Inmarsat services to the aviation market – commercial, business and government – and we do this on a global basis. We were the first aviation provider to work with Inmarsat in the early nineties, starting with the Aero C and Swift 64 services. We are a leading provider of aviation services, supporting more than 6,000 aircraft worldwide that communicate using Rockwell Collins/Inmarsat solutions. Through our Inmarsat partnership, we’ve worked together to improve efficiencies for our customers, forging a leadership role in deploying next-generation voice and data networks including SwiftBroadband, SwiftBroadband–Safety, as well as Global Xpress.
Key to our partnership is the support that Inmarsat brings to our Information Management Services (IMS) Government Aviation Services organization. This team provides mission cabin and cockpit connectivity solutions to meet specific government agency needs, so they can rapidly employ airborne assets at a moment’s notice. As part of this service, we depend upon Inmarsat for critical and secure voice, video and data, enabling government and military aircrews to circumnavigate the globe, while maintaining command and control for our operators at all times. We take pride in knowing that we support nearly every airborne airlift – including our nation’s senior leaders – as well as air refueling, medical evacuation, training and operational missions.
Our focus is on simplifying the mission of flight. As a “one stop shop,” we are fully engaged in all aspects of the end-to-end delivery model – from cockpit to cabin, from flight planning to flight following, and from tech support to field engineering. We understand the mission requirements and make available field technicians and additional staff to implement and troubleshoot service and provide the full spectrum of user training.
The services we provide to government agencies are mission critical, and we take this very seriously. We build redundancy and resiliency into our services, ensuring a seamless and reliable user experience. We developed and offer a full complement of air/ground services, such as High Frequency Data Link (HFDL), which establishes another layer of redundancy via a tertiary communications path. Our state-of-the-art operations center in Annapolis, partly staffed by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified Part 121 dispatchers, monitors missions and quality of service 24/7/365. We’d like to believe we are an “afterthought” in the eyes of our customers considering it’s a given that our services will perform as expected. This allows our customers to focus solely on the mission.
In addition, our government customers operational requirements shift over time – often due to mission requirements, and Inmarsat is flexible and understanding in finding the bespoke solutions when needed.
During Hurricane Maria last year, the partnership proved invaluable as Air Force airlift missions flew first responders to Puerto Rico. With the airport and island infrastructure nearly depleted, essential command and control voice and data link capabilities were provided. I was pleased when the Vice Wing Commander reached out to me upon mission completion thanking the team for outstanding support.
There are three words we use to describe the work we do for our government customers: trusted, proven, and vigilant. We live by our vision every day to be recognized as the most trusted source of aviation and high integrity solutions in the world. Thanks to our partnership with Inmarsat, we are fully confident that we are making good on this promise now and for the future.
About the author
Daniel Shea is the Director of Government Aviation Services (GAS), Information Management Services for Rockwell Collins. In this role, he and his team are responsible for marketing Rockwell Collins services and solutions to U.S. and global government operators. Shea joined Rockwell Collins in 1996. During his 22 year career with the company, he has held several key leadership positions in sales and program management as well as business and strategic development. He was assigned to Rockwell Collins’ Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) office from 2000-2003 and 2014-2015. In December 2016, he was promoted to his current position.
Shea is a graduate of the United States Air Force Academy. After six years on Active Duty, he transitioned to the Air National Guard, where he held a variety of leadership positions and retired in 2014 after 28 years of service.