Iris flight trials for safer air traffic

Iris’s objective is to make aviation more efficient through a new satellite-based air–ground communication system for Air Traffic Management.

Iris is a partnership between ESA and Inmarsat that provides the satellite technology for the so-called Single European Sky ATM Research programme, which aims at boostingthe safety, capacity and performance of Air Traffic Management worldwide.

Currently, aircraft are tracked by radar when over land and in coastal areas, and flight paths are negotiated by radio. However,due to the expected substantial increase in air traffic in Europe, the radio frequencies currently used for ATM communications will be under significant capacity stress in the next 5-10 years.

Iris will relieve pressure on these ground-based radio frequencies by supplementing them with satellite data links, andallowingaircraft trajectories to be optimized with regard to longitude, latitude, altitude and time. This means less cancellations and delays, and flights that are more cost-effective and fuel-efficient.

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