PLANET aims at providing aviation with in-flight information updates on weather conditions and hazards, while contributing at the same time to the observation of the atmosphere thanks to in situ measurements (e.g. pressure, temperature and wind) sent from the aircraft to the weather agencies.
Besides, the system targets in-flight reporting of dangerous encountered weather conditions via the delivery of digital PIREPs (pilot reports) to other aircrafts, and other non-meteorological services such as in-flight messaging or tracking.
Thanks to the “collaborative meteo concept” (i.e. fruition of weather services and provision of weather observation data at the same time), PLANET aims at:
- Increasing significantly the number of in-situ measurements made available to weather agencies, which are nowadays provided only by commercial airlines serving a limited number of airports,
- Increasing significantly the European geographical area of measurements, due to new routes/airports target by the business and regional aviation,
- Providing valuable and cost attractive weather information service to business, regional and general aviation pilots in return of their provision of in-situ measurements.
The main objective of this project is to develop a first iteration of the PLANET service that will allow a demonstration to potential users.
As shown on the figure bellow, potential users are:
- Air users (pilots) for weather services or messaging service.
- Weather Agencies, which receive in-situ measurements and PIREPs and provide weather products.
- Flight Operators for tracking and messaging services.
- Civil Aviation Authority as providers of Aeronautical Information Service (AIS).
The PLANET architecture can be divided into two distinct parts:
- Onboard equipment which mainly performs communications with the ground servers,
- A ground server which is the interface between external entities and the fleet.
A prototype of the onboard equipment will be developed, capable of exploiting both the Iridium (burst service) and GPRS data services. The ground system will allow exchanging the data with weather agencies and other ground users and providers.
Key issues of PLANET project are:
- In-flight meteo products delivery and in-situ measurements for business and regional aircrafts (“Collaborative Meteo Concept”),
- Development of an hybrid communication module based on satellite and GPRS,
- Optimisation of data delivery via satellite (enhanced data compression algorithms dedicated to weather products and measurements),
- Use of new concept of meteo objects, that allow bandwidth saving and easy interpretation of the phenomenon by the pilot.
Innovative and competitive commercial solution based on:
- Higher number of in-situ measurements made available to weather agencies thanks to new routes added by business and regional aviation,
- Cost attractive weather information service to business and regional aviation pilots in return of their provision of in-situ measurements (“Meteo Collaborative Concept”).
The PLANET demonstrator will implement the following main features:
- Before the flight, a complete weather briefing information will be accessed via GPRS (significant weather and wind aloft charts, destination aerodrome messages),
- During the flight the following data will be respectively received and transmitted by the aircraft via the Iridium burst service:
- Updates of destination aerodrome messages, weather hazards objects (Convection Nowcast) and PIREPS),
- Measurements about the air temperature and pressure at regular intervals,
- During the descent phase, air pressure and temperature will be sampled at a faster rate, and compiled in a descent profile observation report that is sent by GPRS just after landing.
The PLANET Architecture includes onboard equipment installed in aircrafts and a ground server which manages both the fleet and the exchanges with external entities. The following figure presents the architecture of the system and the main functions that will be developed for each part.
Concerning the onboard part, here are the main functions developed:
- The Multilink communication module, in charge of sending and receiving the data and of managing the communication capabilities,
- The Pilot Air Application, which requests (automatically or on pilot action) and recovers all the information addressed to the pilot (e.g. weather products),
- The Observation Air Application, in charge of collecting and forwarding observations data to the ground system,
- The Flight Monitoring, which manages several internal parameters.
As for the ground server, the following blocks will be developed:
- The Communication module, in charge of retrieving the data sent by the aircraft and of delivering the data sent by ground system,
- The Fleet Management module, which manages several parameters forwarded by aircrafts (e.g. location, means of communication currently used),
- The Meteo Service, the Observation Service in charge of interfacing the external entities.
The 12 months project duration aims at demonstrating the technical and commercial viability of the PLANET concept.
A functional prototype will be developed and validated during a three months pilot phase, with Lab testing, mobile testing in vehicles, and in-flight testing with a Cessna 172 and a DR40.
Dedicated demonstrations and presentations will be performed to several stakeholders (e.g. business Airlines, Pilots and civil aviation authority).
The Final Review has been successfully held at ESA ESTEC on 27th September 2011, including a live demonstration of the PLANET service and on-board equipment.
In October 2012 ATMOSPHERE has submitted a PLANET2 project proposal targeting hardware and software certifications and additional in-flight weather services for business and regional aviation. The proposal has been accepted by ESA and the PLANET2 project has been kicked-off in Feb2012. For more info about PLANET2 click here.