Inmarsat and Airservices Australia partner to improve aviation safety and efficiency

05 March 2018: Inmarsat has partnered with Airservices Australia to initiate satellite voice (SatVoice) communications evaluations for air traffic services in Australia in areas beyond the reach of traditional VHF voice coverage.

Through the partnership with Inmarsat, Airservices Australia will help airlines and operators to complement conventional voice communications equipment with modern digital technology. The evaluation is working toward two important customer benefits: more effective and ultimately safer aviation safety services over the oceans and remote areas, and lower weight for avionics, contributing towards reduced fuel burn and greenhouse emissions.

SatVoice communications is a two-way channel, satellite-based service that enhances accuracy in cockpit communications and therefore aircraft safety. The system enables faster and better quality voice communications between flight deck crew and designated contacts on the ground, including air traffic controllers and airline operations personnel.

Safety improvements

Currently, cockpit communications involves the  aircraft calling a ground station, which then connects the flight deck crew to an air traffic control facility, in what is known as “two-stage dialing.” SatVoice communications will streamline this process, speeding up contact between air traffic control and the aircraft.

The evaluation will take place over the next few months, with the ultimate objective being direct controller-to-pilot communications (DCPC). Enhanced voice communications will support long-term efficiency and safety improvements that require these direct communications.

As part of our SB-S platform, which delivers high-speed IP connectivity to the flight deck, we will offer upgraded SatVoice services that will be unparalleled in speed and quality.

Important evaluation

SITAONAIR, which currently provides datalink services to Airservices Australia, has a key role as the Communications Service Provider, providing the connectivity infrastructure for these evaluations. Virgin Australia is also participating as the airline partner for the evaluation, demonstrating Inmarsat SatVoice on four of its B737 aircraft.

“This is an important evaluation for our industry and for Airservices Australia, as we continue our program of delivering customer benefits through better technology,” said Stephen Angus, Airservices Australia, Executive General Manager, Air Navigation Services.

Captain Mary McMillan, Vice President of Safety and Operational Services for Inmarsat Aviation said: “As the leader in aviation safety and operational services, Inmarsat is pleased to work with Airservices Australia to demonstrate this important aspect of flight deck connectivity.

Additional benefits

“Satellite communication systems have saved the world’s airlines $3B USD in the past 15 years1. We look forward to providing additional benefits deploying satellite communications in applications like this.”

François Bardin, Director – Air Traffic Solutions, at SITAONAIR adds: “We are proud of our key, long-standing relationship with Air Services Australia, providing ADS-C/ Controller-Pilot Datalink Communications (CPDLC) services for Melbourne and Brisbane’s air traffic control centers.

“SITAONAIR is excited to be extending our Air-to-Ground solutions in Australia in our role as Communications Service Provider for both airlines and ANSPs, providing our infrastructure as the platform for SATCOM voice services, and reinforcing our commitment to supporting and delivering the highest level of aviation operational efficiency and safety.”

1 The Benefits of Satcom to Airlines. Helios’ Consultants 2017 (Commissioned by Inmarsat)