Inmarsat and TTP Partner to Propel Integration of UAVs into Commercial Airspace
by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby
This week, Inmarsat and the European Space Agency (ESA) announced the development of a compact satellite terminal for Uncrewed Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) as part of the Iris air traffic modernization program, which seeks to drive the integration of UAVs into commercial airspace.
TTP will provide the major technology for a low size, weight, power and cost (SWaP-C) terminal featuring an integrated antenna. Available later this year, the terminal will be compatible with nearly all UAVs, offering a constant, secure datalink between uncrewed vehicles, remote operators and air traffic control.
Granting scalable Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations, the terminal opens a number of options for flight operators including telemetry for platform health monitoring, IP voice relay for air traffic control communications, and data services such as video streaming for inspection applications. The terminal will also feature optional hybrid connectivity for use wherever cellular coverage is available.
TTP is additionally contracted for research and development of UAV safety services such as detect and avoid (DAA) as part of the Iris program. In conjunction with the new UAV satcom terminal and technology from other Iris partners, this will assist in providing all necessary elements for the safe operation of UAVs in commercial airspace.
“The number of uncrewed vehicles in mixed airspace is expected to increase tenfold over the next 8-10 years,” said Anthony Spouncer, Inmarsat’s Senior Director of Advanced Air Mobility. “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.”
“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,” said Tristan Barkley, TTP’s Head of Satellite and Space.
Iris leverages Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) connectivity platform to enable real-time collaboration between pilots, air traffic controllers and airline operation centers via affordable, secure and durable datalink communications. This reduces congestion on Very High Frequency (VHF) links and allows for the use of time-based air traffic management, granting benefits such as reduced flight delays and lower costs for airlines. This in turn results in reduced CO2 emissions, helping the aviation industry move towards decarbonisation and less congested skies.
Supporting the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) program, Iris will start flying onboard commercial flights with easyJet by early 2023, becoming the first communication service benefiting from a Pan-European certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), obtained through European Satellite Services Provider (ESSP). Afterwards, Iris Global will extend the program beyond Europe, resulting in greater CO2 reductions and improved airspace capacity worldwide.
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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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