A full high-frequency datalink (HFDL) service for the North Atlantic is expected to begin operating this month, leading its designer AlliedSignal to predict significant new business in its battle with dominant supplier Rockwell Collins.

The company's confidence stems from the certification of its XK516 HFDL for voice and data communications on a Lufthansa Boeing MD-11, a Saudi Arabian Airlines Boeing MD-90 and a Northwest Boeing 747, dispelling "doubts about the reliability of HF", says Alfonso Malaga, HF product manager for AlliedSignal Commercial Avionics Systems.

The HFDL, developed in partnership with Rohde & Schwarz, uses digital signal processing to improve filtering and reduce noise. "Collins had 100% of the market until we came in with Rohde & Schwarz with new technology in HF," says Malaga, who claims that AlliedSignal has captured "20% of the market in less than two years". The company expects interest to grow quickly in HFDL as an alternative to satellite communication (satcom) systems because the acquisition cost is around "-one-tenth, and message costs are about half".

Malaga believes new HF sales will also come as operators seek backup for satcom. "Also, smaller aircraft like the 757 that are now flying long distances are not usually satcom-equipped, so they need lower-cost alternatives," he says. The company adds: "We have developed a system concept that takes the workload off the crew. All the software is handled automatically."

The completion of the North Atlantic HFDL network is a major step towards global operations, which are scheduled to be available by mid-1999. The first ARINC "GLOBALink" HFDL ground station was set up in San Francisco in January, with a second station established in Hawaii the following month. Both are ARINC 635-operable and use AlliedSignal modems to support HFDL operations on the Pacific Rim routes.

HFDL coverage of Russia and the Middle East is scheduled to begin in early 1999 as the number of ground stations around the world grows to 10. The only significant "holes" to be filled are over parts of Siberia and the South Atlantic, adds Malaga.

Source: Flight International