SITA's AeroNet is a centrally managed data network capable of handling and routeing high volumes of complex - and often commercially sensitive - digital data streams from sophisticated applications. It might be compared with the newest databus in civil aircraft - where a point-to-point bus system, such as the Arinc 429 standard, has given way to a two-way "ring- main" system, such as the Arinc 629.

The development of the AeroNet as a single seamless connection for high-speed, high-volume traffic has been rapid. The decision to create it was taken only 18 months ago; British Airways, Boeing and KLM tested the system just over a year ago and it was offered as a service in April 1996.

The AeroNet overlays the basic SITA network, but the aim is to migrate to TCP/IP and use this protocol to make the AeroNet available to any user. Scitor Glotel will be a lead player in this.

The AeroNet has three operations centres: Atlanta, Georgia; Paris, France (with London); and Singapore. They are staffed in continuous 8h shifts.

There are three main means of connection into AeroNet:

- dedicated leased telephone lines (for high users at a flat rate - often connected to user Ethernets and capable of 2Mbit/s;

- a public ISDN option, available this year, suited to lesser users at a by-usage rate (but many smaller airlines are not yet familiar with it). ISDN will be offering 64-128Kbit/s;

SITA still retains dial access from public telecommunications services. This is suited to many mobile, remote, lap-top personal-computer users, who are able to accept lower speeds.

Source: Flight International