The aviation industry is petitioning the guardians of the World Wide Web to develop standards that will allow the internet to be used globally for air traffic control, airline operational communications and passenger services.

A draft document detailing commercial aviation service requirements will be presented in early November at the next meeting of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the body that defines the standards controlling the internet.

"This is our first attempt to get aviation requirements for links to aircraft into the Internet Protocol [IP] standards," says Boeing's aviation network architect Terry Davis, who is leading the effort by the Airlines Electronic Engineering Committee (AEEC). "We have been doing our best to use existing IP standards, but it can take of lot of costly engineering," he says.

One of the first industries to develop and deploy mobile networks, commercial aviation has found gaps in its ability to fully use internet technology globally, according to the draft requirements document. "We need the internet to accept very large mobile networks that can move from continent to continent with no notice," says Davis. "It's like picking up an office building, transporting it across the Atlantic and having it reconnect and run as before. We do not have standards that allow the internet to accommodate that.

"Next-generation air traffic control and advanced airline communications need more capability from the internet," says Davis. While existing IP standards assume networks are confined to one geographic area, "aircraft must have the ability to continuously maintain links, and dock at any airport in the world, using generic internet standards", he says, adding that new standards are also required to allow an aircraft to be connected to more than two mobile networks at a time (for example, ATC communications and IFE).

The AEEC is co-ordinating efforts with the International Civil Aviation Organisation's aviation communications panel. The draft aviation requirements will be presented at a meeting at the IETF summit, which Davis hopes will persuade the internet body to set up a working party.

Source: Flight International