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Satellite Communications Technology

Inmarsat SB-Safety connected flight deck enters service evaluation on United Airlines

(16 November 2017 - Cobham Satcom) Inmarsat, the world’s leading provider of global mobile satellite communications, and Cobham SATCOM, the leading manufacturer of satellite communications solutions, today announced that SB-Safety (SB-S) has entered service evaluation on the first United Airlines Boeing B767 aircraft.

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Cobham SATCOM's AVIATOR 300D (courtesy: Cobham Satcom)

The important milestone was achieved as part of a technology evaluation of Inmarsat’s next generation SB-S flight deck communications platform, which has been installed on United Airlines’ Boeing 767 aircraft with Cobham’s AVIATOR 300D satcom system. SB-S offers global, high-speed, secure connectivity for the flight deck, enabling powerful and flexible communications in real-time, enhancing airline safety, asset utilisation, security, and operations.

During the evaluation, United Airlines will deploy its aircraft equipped with SB-S in the highly congested North Atlantic airspace. It will use the new platform for communications and surveillance with Controller-Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) and Automatic Dependent Surveillance Contract (ADS-C) messaging. United Airlines’ evaluation of SB-S is part of the carrier’s ongoing commitment to best-in-class operations, safety and service.

In addition to capabilities of today’s cockpit satcom, SB-S introduces new, always on, always secure applications, which are available for United Airlines’ use. These include continual positional awareness for flight tracking, flight data streaming (Black Box in the Cloud) and real-time electronic flight bag applications, such as networked graphical weather. Other benefits of the service include operational efficiency, in the form of more fuel-efficient routes and the ability to transmit vital aircraft performance and positioning data in real time.

The AVIATOR 300D systems, which include Cobham’s compact and lightweight IGA-5001 Intermediate Gain Antenna to ensure a low profile on the fuselage, provide fast and reliable connectivity on the Inmarsat satellite network. As one of the latest additions to Cobham SATCOM’s established, innovative AVIATOR portfolio, further advantages include recurrent maintenance savings due to the integral high reliability of the underlying technology platform and weight savings (approximately 50 to 150 lbs) over traditional aviation satcom systems.

Chuck Stewart, United Airlines Chief Technical Pilot for Communications, said: “United is excited to have this powerful new capability in flight today. We look forward to seeing improved operational efficiencies with a fully connected flight deck, using the platform for improved communications and real-time updates that previously had to be done on the ground.”

Brian Anderson, Americas Air Transport Sales Manager for Cobham SATCOM, said: “We are delighted to have United Airlines utilising Cobham’s AVIATOR 300D satcom in support of SB-Safety in the North Atlantic Airspace. This marks an important milestone for the entire aviation industry. It has been a pleasure working with United Airlines as they bring the benefits of new technologies into the cockpit to improve both their communications and operations.”

Captain Mary McMillan, Inmarsat Aviation Vice President of Safety and Operational Services, said: “We are thrilled that United Airlines is taking advantage of the many benefits of Inmarsat’s SB-Safety. As an industry leader, United sees the value of next generation IP broadband in the cockpit and how it delivers operational savings and enhanced safety. This moves satcom from a safety utility to a true, strategic asset for aviation.”

About Cobham SATCOM

Our satellite and radio communication terminals perform in the most challenging and remote environments on land, at sea and in the air.

We design and manufacture these high performance products under the AVIATOR, EXPLORER, SAILOR and Sea Tel brands providing customers with outstanding performance, value and support through our global sales and service network.

About Cobham

The most important thing we build is trust.

Cobham is a leading global technology and services innovator, respected for providing solutions to the most challenging problems, from deep space to the depths of the ocean.

About Inmarsat

Inmarsat plc is the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services. Since 1979, Inmarsat has been providing reliable voice and high-speed data communications to governments, enterprises and other organizations, with a range of services that can be used on land, at sea or in the air. Inmarsat operates around the world, with a presence in the major ports and centres of commerce on every continent. Inmarsat is listed on the London Stock Exchange (ISAT.L).