The SB-S platform, which will be installed on Shenzhen’s Airbus 320 aircraft using Cobham avionics’ AVIATOR 300D hardware, will deliver powerful and flexible in-flight communications and secure, real-time, in-air information to enhance Shenzhen’s safety, security and operational capabilities – both in the air and on the ground.
The Shenzhen partnership is part of a joint venture between Inmarsat, Beijing Marine Communication & Navigation Company, Ltd. (MCN) and Aviation Data Communication Corporation (ADCC) to provide aviation safety services to the rapidly growing Chinese market. Under this partnership, MCN and ADCC will deliver satellite voice, ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing & Reporting System) and data services. MCN will serve as project manager for Shenzhen’s SB-S evaluation process.
In addition to compliance with the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) mandates CCAR 121 and AC-121, Shenzhen Airlines will focus its evaluation on three core SB-S SATCOM capabilities, including:
- Satellite Voice (satvoice) Communications – Two-channel satellite-based services that enable faster and high-quality voice communication between the flight deck crew and its designated contacts on the ground, including air traffic controllers and airline operations personnel.
- Integral Global Flight Tracking – This enhanced, live tracking feature pinpoints an aircraft’s location through regular transmission of position reports. SB-S flight tracking enables the airline and Air Traffic Control (ATC) to know where the aircraft is and to understand its status in real time, which is essential for both safety and delivery of fuel-efficient flight.
- ACARS Over IP – Traditionally used to communicate with both the Airline Operations Centre and ATC, this short-text capability over IP is a prerequisite for FANS 1/A compliance in remote oceanic areas.
Shenzhen Airlines also will be able to take advantage of other SB-S platform features, including real-time electronic flight bag applications, such as networked graphical weather and, ultimately, flight data streaming (“Black Box in the Cloud”). And, in addition to providing critical flight safety solutions, its high-speed communications capabilities also allow SB-S to deliver operational savings to airlines in the form of reduced fuel costs, improved efficiency and enhanced security. A recent study by Helios showed that satellite communications has already delivered US$3 billion in benefits to airlines to date (see link below).
Through its SB-S evaluation, Shenzhen Airlines is preparing for China’s explosive growth in passenger demand, which, according the International Air Transport Association (IATA)*, is expected to more than double over the next 20 years. IATA also predicts that China will displace the United States as the world’s largest aviation market around 2024*. Much of this demand will be for international travel and Shenzhen is anticipating this demand by employing next generation satellite connectivity, which allows aircraft to travel in oceanic areas and across remote continental areas where terrestrial networks are not established. These satellite-based capabilities will allow Shenzhen to offer passengers a vastly wider range of service destinations that, until now, could not be realized due to the decades-old limitations of traditional, ground-based communications.
Cheng-Yu Tang, General Manager, China Cobham SATCOM, reported that Shenzhen’s decision to evaluate SB-S demonstrates that one of the China’s largest airlines has full confidence in the performance of the Cobham AVIATOR 300D system and the Inmarsat SB-S platform. This evaluation also supports the company's development of communication technologies to meet the future needs of the aviation community.
Captain Shao Bin, Vice President of Operations for Shenzhen Airlines, noted that as China’s skies become more crowded and advanced flight-tracking capabilities become a necessity in the region’s airspace, Shenzhen wants to be at the forefront of this exciting next chapter of aviation history and is looking forward to evaluating SwiftBroadband-Safety as a pioneering, satellite-based connectivity solution that will enable Shenzhen to offer enhanced safety, increased capacity and more efficient operations to our passengers – both in China and beyond.
Captain Mary McMillan, Vice President of Safety and Operational Services at Inmarsat’s Aviation business unit, added that as China continues its path toward becoming the world’s largest passenger aviation nation, Shenzhen is making an important move to ensure it is ready to not only expand its domestic service offerings but also meet Chinese passengers’ growing demand for international travel. As the trusted provider of aviation safety and operational services, Inmarsat's work with Shenzhen and company partners will help the company to understand how SB-S can optimize their flight deck and aircraft operations as they enter this new era in Chinese aviation.
*Source: IATA 20-year Passenger Forecast (Oct. 18, 2016)