A team including Aerospatiale, Thomson-CSF, Eurocontrol, the Dutch National Aerospace Laboratory (NLR) and Sofreavia hopes to conduct flight demonstrations using the aeronautical telecommunication network (ATN) at this month's Paris air show.

The ATN is being designed to integrate existing aeronautical networks in a seamless and interoperable internet, providing a reliable end-to-end communication service. The ATN allows airborne and ground computers to exchange information to optimise an aircraft's flightpath and traffic flow, while reducing the workload of the pilot and air traffic controllers.

The tests, using NLR's Cessna Citation II, will be conducted at the Paris air show only if system integration testing is completed beforehand, says the NLR, which hoped to perform an integration test in the week beginning 7 June.

The flight tests are intended to validate the ATN concept, meeting International Civil Aviation Organisation standards, and the infrastructure in an operational environment. The Cessna Citation will have Aerospatiale's air traffic services unit (ATSU), multifunction cockpit display units and software developed in the European pre-operational datalink applications (EOLIA) and Prototype ATN (Pro-ATN) projects, communicating with Thomson-CSF's standalone ground system. The ATSU is fitted on new A320 family aircraft, A330s and A340s, replacing the airborne communications addressing and reporting system.

The flight trials will be used to demonstrate controller-pilot data link communications and automatic dependent surveillance. Further flight trials are planned for the end of the year, when upgraded software and additional capabilities will be evaluated. The flight trials follow recent ground tests using an Airbus A340 simulator, equipped with the ATSU, exchanging information via the ATN with the Thomson-CSF system.

The flight trials are the latest stage in ongoing programmes, such as EOLIA and Pro-ATN, intended to result in the implementation of the network. ATN activities continue in Europe and the USA, which are working on a Common American European Reference Aeronautical Telecommunication Network Facility, to be used for end-to-end testing of ATN components, including ground and airborne systems.

(Taken from Flight International 9-15 June 1999)

Source: Flight Daily News