Eurocontrol and Roke Manor Research have conducted flight trials of third-generation (3G) wideband communications in an effort to demonstrate the technology for air traffic management, airline operational and passenger applications.

The trials were performed using UK research organisation Qinetiq's BAC One-Eleven test aircraft equipped with a Siemens system. Geoffrey Bailey, head of Eurocontrol's communications unit, says the trial is using commercial off-the-shelf products as much as possible. Live video and still photographs were transmitted, and a voice call was made at the same time as a passenger browsed the internet and watched a video streamed from the ground.

Eurocontrol will present the results to industry by the end of the year to see if the use of 3G equipment "is credible and we are able to take it forward", says Bailey. Wideband communications offer a data throughput 50 times that of VHF datalink Mode 2. A data rate of 1.5Mbit/s was demonstrated during the trial. Eurocontrol plans to test additional equipment mid-year.

Source: Flight International