Phase B2 of the ESA Iris ANTARES project is now underway. This phase will advance ANTARES to the System Preliminary Design Review.
ANTARES (AeroNauTicAl REsources Satellite-based) is a system design study defining a new satellite communication system, purpose-built for Air Traffic Management (ATM).
Iris is dedicated to developing a new air-ground communication system for ATM as the satcom solution for the Single European Sky ATM Research [SESAR] programme, launched by the European Commission (EC).
Thales Alenia Space Italy was awarded the ANTARES contract in 2009. Leading a team of top representatives from the aviation world and the space industry, ANTARES focuses on all aspects of a new satellite-based communication system based on low-cost user terminals and a new satellite communication standard.
The new satellite communication system will be a key enabler for the modernisation of air traffic management. It will enable aircraft and ground control to implement 4D trajectory management, improving flight efficiency.
ESA has involved the best competences in the aviation, telecom research, industrial communities and space industries in Iris to make sure the lessons of the past are applied, and that a wide community participates and shares the decisions to be taken.
A review board consisting of ESA personnel under the authority of ESA’s Inspector General and external reviewers representing the SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU), Eurocontrol, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Airbus and the ATM Satcom Safety Board, evaluated whether the designs proposed by the ANTARES team were technically sound. Completion of this review has moved the study into the next phase.
ANTARES Phase B2 signals the start of the detailed design of, on one side, the communication protocols and the associated technical verification testbed and, on the other side, the system’s ground and space segments and user terminals to be used on-board aircraft.
The first draft of the Technical specifications of the ANTARES communication standard were released earlier this year and are available for download. This document’s specifications address the user, control and management planes of the communication protocols used by aircraft to exchange data with ground control.
Iris aims to develop and validate a new satellite communication safety system based on a new communication standard that could be used in any world region. It complements existing and planned systems, supporting the growth of worldwide air traffic operations.
The first satellite-based infrastructure will be set up in Europe, where the need to upgrade air-ground communication is most critical; however, once the new communication system is standardised at the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), it can be deployed worldwide offering opportunities for safer flights in areas where the ground infrastructure is absent.
The ICAO global standard will ensure that aircraft equipped with a standard terminal will be able to communicate anywhere via compatible regional satellite systems.