Emma Kelly/LONDON

The Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) and ARINC have demonstrated the use of VHF datalink mode 2 (VDL-2) and satellite communications in a communications, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management environment.

The flight demonstrations, part of the European Commission's (EC) fourth European framework's Airborne Air Traffic Management System project, were conducted over the aeronautical telecommunication network using VDL-2 and satellite communications. The NLR/ARINC trial is one of several programmes demonstrating the capacity and quality advantages of new datalink technologies with existing air-ground communication equipment.

The flights were performed by NLR's Cessna Citation II operating from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The Citation II, equipped with an advanced flight management system developed by EuroTelematik, communicated with NLR's air traffic control research simulator in Amsterdam.

The Cessna was routed in the northwest sector over the North Sea at low altitude - flight level 100. The flight trials demonstrated the end-to-end delivery of automatic dependent surveillance, controller-pilot datalink communications and aeronautical operational control messages, with the aircraft switching between VDL-2 and satellite communication subnetworks.

VDL-2 proved particularly successful during the trials, demonstrating better quality of service than the satellite communication subnetwork, says Eric-Jan Hartlieb, NLR's programme manager. VDL-2 also demonstrated faster message delivery times - less than 1s compared with 10s for satellite communications - and improved throughput.

NLR and ARINC, in conjunction with the EC and Eurocontrol, plan to continue the research programme. Further areas of study include frequency management, ground station handover, International Civil Aviation Organisation standards and recommend- ed practices validation and operational analysis in a realistic air traffic management environment.

Source: Flight International