Satellite communications for aviation

Satellite communications for aviation

Technology News |
By Wisse Hettinga

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The first commercial flights of a programme that uses Iris satellite technology to help modernise air traffic management and reduce carbon emissions have taken place

The ground-breaking Iris programme, led by ESA and communications company Viasat, digitally connects pilots with air traffic controllers, via satellites, enabling the more efficient routing of flights. As well as saving time, it is predicted that, through reduced fuel burn, carbon dioxide emissions could be cut significantly. This will contribute to the aim of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which ESA aims to accelerate through working with partners to deliver tangible and measurable contributions.

Several airlines are in the pipeline to sign up to use Iris, and easyJet was the first airline to make an inaugural flight using the technology on its Amsterdam – Milan route. Iris will continue to be rolled out by easyJet, with more aircraft being equipped with the technology during 2024.

By using satellite communications, Iris provides secure, reliable and fast high-bandwidth links between pilots and air traffic controllers. This complements the current use of radio frequencies that are nearing full capacity in Europe’s congested airspace.

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