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Homeland Security

Airborne Internet

In November 2005, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) awarded a $1.35 million contract to AeroSat Airborne Internet, LLC of Amherst, NH to demonstrate and evaluate basic concept and components of the Airborne Internet system.

The FAA is demonstrating Airborne Internet capability to evaluate its potential to address the advanced communications requirements of the Next Generation Air Transportation System. Airborne Internet shows promise to enhance the safety and efficiency of future air travel. Not only would the system be used to update the flight crew on potential security threats, it could also be used for updates of critical data, such as the weather, turbulence and landing conditions at different airports.

The Airborne Internet will provide a tremendous opportunity for new applications to be utilized on board aircraft. Flight deck functionality can be greatly improved when the Airborne Internet is implemented and the Collaborative Information Environment (CIE) is the enabling technology to transform the flight deck from a relatively static information user to a dynamic node on an information network. Through the use of TCP/IP and XML Web Services, the Airborne Internet CIE will provide the foundation upon which numerous new applications can be used by the people in aircraft.

Airborne Internet CIE applications could include the System Wide Information Management (SWIM), Controller Pilot Data Link (CPLDC), regular downloading of the aircraft's "black box" data, priority TCP/IP message delivery, voice over IP (which then could be used as voice in the Oceanic or Gulf of Mexico airspace), better and enhanced weather information, Airport/Facility Directory, FAA NOTAMs (including "special use airspace (including TFR)), telemedicine, special homeland security functions, and electronic flight bag applications such as conflict detection and avoidance. Flight deck applications could be commanded and controlled by the flight crew's voice rather than mouse, keypad and pointing devices which are clumsy and difficult to use in the sometimes high turbulence environment of an aircraft.

Airborne Internet could provide the secure airborne data platform for the development of the System Wide Information Management (SWIM) infrastructure. SWIM is a transformation from point-to-point communications to information-centric operations. Airborne Internet network enabled aircraft can become a more integral part of the information-centric system. These operations are characterized by widely shared information that can be exploited.

The three primary elements of SWIM could benefit by using Airborne Internet: as augmentation to the surveillance data network, enabling better weather products to the aircraft, and facilitating the airborne element of the Aeronautical Information Management (AIM) network. With network-enabled air traffic operations and network enabled aircraft, collaborative decision-making is more possible and could enable more rapid responses to unforeseen events such as aviation weather or security threats. Airborne Internet enabled aircraft could have early detection sensors on board the aircraft that would immediately inform the other aircraft in the area and the essential government authorities on the ground network. Network connectivity to aircraft provides anopportunity for the flight crew and the Federal Air Marshals (FAMs) to privately be digitally connected to the ground counterparts and provide information at the soonest opportunity about activities in the aircraft.

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Page last modified: 13-07-2011 12:50:40 ZULU