Graham Warwick/ATLANTA

ARNAV SYSTEMS is installing its GeoNet VHF-data-link network in the Gulf of Mexico, for use by a consortium of offshore-support helicopter operators. The companies, including Air Logistics and Petroleum Helicopters, will use the network for flight following, text messaging and weather broadcasting.

The first seven of a planned 55 GeoNet ground stations are in place, two onshore and the remainder offshore. Gulf operators will have equipped a total of 500 helicopters with Arnav's System 6 data-link avionics by the end of 1996, says vice-president for marketing, Susan Hamner.

Twin-turbine helicopters are being equipped with a liquid-crystal multi-function display, which presents a moving map showing airports and offshore platforms, overlaid with weather graphics. Single-turbine helicopters will carry a hand-held terminal, which can display text messages.

Hamner says that the VHF-data-link network is replacing a microwave-relay system. Each aircraft will transmit global-positioning-system (GPS) reports every 15s, for display on operators' terminals. In an emergency, position can be reported once a second, she says.

Arnav is also installing seven GeoNet ground stations in Virginia, in partnership with the state government. The network will provide data link-communication, position-reporting and weather-broadcasting services to any aircraft, which is suitably equipped. The company, is expected to be used by the state's emergency-medical services.

Seven GeoNet ground stations have already been installed in and around Atlanta, Georgia, to support the Atlanta Short-haul Transportation System demonstration during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in July and August. At least 50 helicopters will be equipped with Arnav avionics allowing GPS-based automatic dependent surveillance, cockpit display of traffic, text messaging, weather broadcasting and automatic in-flight reporting of weather conditions.

Source: Flight International