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Seamless Aeronautical Networking through integration of Data links, Radios, and Antennas

Project No.: 233679
Project Manager: Dr.ir. Chris Roeloffzen
Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science - EEMCS
Tel.: +31 53 489 2804
Email: C.G.H.Roeloffzen@ewi.utwente.nl


Air traffic in Europe is expected to double by 2025 according to the last forecast of Eurocontrol, with an average growth of 2.7%-3.7% per year. On a worldwide basis, the number of passengers is expected to growth of 4.5% per year over the same timeframe. Future passenger and freight fleets will bring better efficiency and improved environmental performance, and will allow people all around the world to benefit from the essential connections that only air transport can deliver. In this context, an integrated aircraft communication system is of paramount importance to improve efficiency and cost-effectiveness by ensuring a high degree of flexibility, scalability, modularity and reconfigurability.

The SANDRA project will design, implement and validate through in-flight trials an integrated aeronautical communications system based on an open architecture, a common set of interfaces and on well-proven industry standards. Integration will be addressed at four different levels, namely:

  • integration at service level, supporting a full range of services such as airlines operations, cabin crew operations, in-flight and on-ground passenger services, airport operations, security services and air traffic management related operations through a Service Oriented architectural approach
  • integration at network level having an IPv6 aeronautical network as final unification point, but addressing interoperability with network technologies such as ACARS and ATN/OSI, to ensure a realistic transition from the current procedures to the new system
  • integration of several existing radio technologies into an Integrated Modular Radio (IMR) platform, allowing to dramatically reduce the size, weight, and cost in avionics with respect to current radio systems implemented as standalone equipments. The modular approach will additionally ensure the possibility to dynamically reconfigure each radio element to operate a specific type of radio link
  • integration at antenna and RF level by means of a very low profile satellite antenna prototype allowing the provision of reliable, low maintenance, broadband connectivity, especially meant for bandwidth demanding passenger and cabin applications.

The integration of different service domains with very heterogeneous requirements through a cost-effective and flexible avionic architecture is thus one of the main challenges addressed by SANDRA. In this light, the SANDRA communication system will represent a key enabler for the global provision of distributed services for Common Decision Making based on the System Wide Information Management concept, and for meeting the high market demand for broadband passenger and enhanced cabin communication services.

Last but not least, the SANDRA concept is fully inline with SESAR activity and future plans for the deployment of European Air Traffic Management modernisation programme as well as with the final conclusions and recommendations of Eurocontrol/FAA Future Communications Study. In particular, SANDRA addresses many of the enablers identified by SESAR for the medium and long term implementation packages, although the proposed integrated approach for the global provision of distributed services covers a broader set of applications and service domains.

Project duration: 2009-2013
Project budget: 24 M-€ / 16.6 M-€ funding
Number of person/years: 1696.5 person/months 
Project Coordinator: Selex Communications
Participants: Selex Communications, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V., SELEX Sistemi Integrati S.p.A., Thales Alenia Space, Thales Aerospace, THALES Avionics SA, Thales Research & Technology (UK) Ltd, AATN Ltd., Acreo AB, Alenia Aeronautica S.p.A., ALTYS Technologies S.A.R.L., University of Bradford, Cyner, Dassault-Aviation, Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH, EADS Innovation Works France, GateHouse A/S, IMST GmbH, INTECS, INRIA, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, LioniX BV, Monitor-soft, National Aerospace Laboratory NLR, RadioLabs-Consorzio Università Industria Laboratori di Radiocomunicazioni, SITA Information Network Computing BV, Slot Consulting Ltd, TriaGnoSys GmbH, TURs Technic Inc., University of Pisa – Department of Information Engineering, Universität Salzburg 
Project budget CTIT: 447 k-€ / 336.4 k-€ funding
Number of person/years CTIT: 38 person/months
Involved groups: Telecommunication Engineering (TE) 
CTIT Research Centre: Centre for Array Technology (CAT)