• Laurence Russell

Air traffic modernisation in Iris programme advances as Inmarsat & ESA select TXT to drive adoption

Global digital enabler TXT Group (TXT) has been selected as the latest partner for Inmarsat and the European Space Agency (ESA)’s revolutionary Iris programme, which utilises the latest generation of satellite technology to modernise air traffic management (ATM).

Powered by Inmarsat’s award-winning SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) connectivity platform, Iris enables real-time collaboration between pilots, air traffic controllers and airline operation centres by using cost-effective, secure and highly resilient datalink communications. This relieves pressure on congested Very High Frequency (VHF) links, leading to the vast benefits provided by Trajectory Based Operations (TBO) such as reduced flight delays and costs for airlines. This also lowers unnecessary CO2 emissions to support the aviation industry’s journey towards decarbonisation and less congested skies.

Further to this, TXT’s Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) application, Pacelab Flight Profile Optimiser (FPO), will support Iris by providing the programme’s airline customers with recommendations on the most cost-efficient way to operate flights, using vertical and lateral route optimisation to balance operational considerations with passenger comfort and on-time performance. The application, which has already been deployed by more than 1,500 aircraft worldwide, will also be developed further to include additional real-time weather data, helping to boost situational awareness, collaborative decision making and flight optimisation.

Joel Klooster, Inmarsat Aviation’s Senior Vice President of Aircraft Operations and Safety, said “We are delighted to welcome TXT as our latest partner for Iris. Having such a key industry player onboard is a further vote of confidence for this transformative programme. TXT’s longstanding expertise and experience will help to bring Iris another step closer to unlocking modernised air traffic management.”

Iris supports the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) programme and will begin flying onboard commercial flights with easyJet in early 2023, making it the first communication service benefiting from a Pan-European certification from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), secured through the programme’s partner European Satellite Services Provider (ESSP).

This will be followed by Iris Global, which extends the programme’s benefits far beyond Europe, leading to significantly larger CO2 output reductions and improved airspace capacity across the world, including other highly congested regions. Iris Global will also empower the Advanced Air Mobility industry to realise its vision of using carbon-neutral, shorter-range uncrewed vehicles for the transport of people and cargo, supported by modernised ATM capabilities for pilotless Beyond Visual Line Of Sight (BVLOS) operations.

Daniele Misani, CEO of TXT, says “We are proud to join Iris and look forward to working with Inmarsat, the European Space Agency and others aviation stakeholders involved in the programme. Providing digital platforms to enhance complex processes is our mission. We have developed our Pacelab FPO solution to improve the efficiency and environmental sustainability of commercial aviation operations, and Iris provides the most complete and integrated platform to achieve this result.”