Inmarsat and the European Space Agency (ESA) have announced the development of a compact satellite terminal for Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). This is part of the ground-breaking Iris air traffic modernization program. The initiative paves the way for UAVs to safely integrate into commercial airspace.
TTP terminal brings scalable BVLOS
TTP will deliver core technology for a low size, weight, power, and cost (SWaP-C) terminal with an integrated antenna. The terminal, available later in the year, is suitable for most UAVs, providing secure and always-available datalink between uncrewed vehicles, remote operators, and air traffic control.
The miniaturized Inmarsat terminal brings scalable Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations and will open various possibilities for flight operators. These include telemetry for platform health monitoring, IP voice relay for air traffic control communications, and data services like video streaming for inspection applications (UAV airspace). Hybrid connectivity will be integrated within the terminal and utilized in areas with cellular coverage. This will ensure a seamless experience through intelligent routing of data and services.
TTP is also under contract for research and development of UAV safety services. An example is the last mile tactical deconfliction known as detected and avoid (DAA). This along with the new UAV satcom terminal and technology from other Iris partners will deliver all elements needed for UAVs to operate safely in commercial airspace.
“The number of uncrewed vehicles in mixed airspace is expected to increase tenfold over the next 8-10 years,” says Anthony Spoucer, Inmarsat’s Senior Director of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM). “Through the expertise of TTP, Inmarsat’s new UAV terminal will bring a solution that is scalable, less dependent on infrastructure, and digitalised to benefit air traffic modernisation programmes like Iris.”
Tristan Barkley, TTP’s Head of Satellite and Space said, “We have a long history of developing core enabling technology platforms for world-leading companies like Inmarsat and are delighted to support Inmarsat and ESA in safely opening up airspace for UAVs.”
Iris enables air traffic communication
Iris, powered by Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) connectivity platform, enables real-time collaboration between pilots, air traffic controllers, and airline operation centers by utilizing cost-effective, secure, and highly resilient data link communications. This works to relieve pressure on congested Very High Frequency (VHF) links and enables use of time-based air traffic management. This provides benefits such as reduced flight delays and costs for airlines. It will also lower unnecessary CO2 emissions to support the aviation industry in their journey to decarbonization and less congested skies.
Iris supports Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) program and will fly onboard commercial flights with easyJet in 2023. It will be the first communication service benefiting from a Pan-European certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Iris Global, which extends the program beyond Europe, will follow SESAR.