Arinc is launching what it claims is the first common-use high-capacity wireless gatelink system. Airlines are expected increasingly to use wireless (wi-fi) datalink systems when they dock at airport gates to downlink aircraft diagnostic and operational data, and simultaneously uplink data to the aircraft's on-board computers, electronic flight bags and in-flight entertainment systems.
Business director at the US communications company's Aviation Solutions division Mike Dufton says the industry needs a system like this, and the demand has reached the "critical mass" point that has enabled the company to take the investment decision to install network servers at airports.
Having carried out satisfactory trials at Frankfurt and Munich airports in 2006, he says he expects the system to be live at "two to three" airports by the end of the year. The rate at which the system expands, he says, will depend mostly on airlines taking the decision to equip each aircraft in their fleets with the necessary on-board terminal wireless LAN unit (TWLU) that provides the link between the gate wireless system and the aircraft's on-board hardware.
Dufton points out that the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 will be fitted with TWLUs as standard because their expanded on-board information systems will depend on such a service.
Dubbed GateFusion, Arinc says the system will be a "breakthrough" because airlines will be able to exchange data wirelessly with their aircraft on the ground at any airport equipped with the system, which is based on AEEC-763 and 822 standards. The company explains that airlines will use it to perform large data transfers on the ramp for electronic flight bags, flight operations data analysis, and IFE systems.
Arinc says: "GateFusion seamlessly interfaces with the existing wireless infrastructures of different providers, including airport Wi-Fi systems and airline-installed networks."