Iris Precursor project designed to improve Air Traffic Management data link communications capacity and reliability
CGI (NYSE: GIB) (TSX: GIB.A), has today announced that it has been awarded a contract by Inmarsat for the safety systems development, integration and IT security services of Iris Precursor, which will support data communications between the pilot and air traffic controller within European airspace. Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communications services with more than 20 years’ experience as the leading provider of safety communications to 98% of airlines, was awarded the Iris Precursor contract by the European Space Agency (ESA).
CGI has been selected by Inmarsat to develop key Iris Precursor safety and security features that are required for future European air traffic management communications. Inmarsat’s existing SwiftBroadband service is already in wide use by airlines, and will be enhanced in Iris Precursor with the extra reliability and protection required for safety critical air traffic management (ATM) operations. CGI is responsible for developing ground-based gateways that will enable the SwiftBroadband system to interface with the European ATM Network (EATMN) and incorporate security measures to protect the over-the-air communications link from cyber attack. The systems will undergo rigorous validation and verification tests to assure safety and security requirements are met, before entering initial flight trials in 2016.
Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat,said: “The Iris Precursor project is a key initiative that paves the way for our SwiftBroadband service to meet the European regulations and standards for data link communications and play an integral role in the future of European air traffic services infrastructure. CGI’s role in developing, integrating and deploying the required ground network systems is a central component of the work and we selected the company based on its deep space industry experience, safety and security systems expertise, and proven delivery track record.”
Steve Smart, Vice President Space, Defence and National Security from CGI in the UK said: “This is a high profile project with the goal of improving air traffic management communications across Europe. We have a long history of developing secure and safety-critical software systems for the space industry and have the experienced team needed to successfully deliver this innovative project. We look forward to working with Inmarsat and our other partners to lead this initiative towards flight trials and ultimately operational service”.
Iris Precursor is not only being developed to support the needs of existing European ATM, but will provide the capacity and performance demanded by future applications planned through the Single European Skies ATM Research (SESAR) programme. This will include the ability to update flight plans en-route and improve the sequencing of aircraft into busy airports – providing major benefits in terms of airspace efficiency, fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. Modernisation on this scale demands a stepped approach, so Iris has been divided into two phases: ‘Iris Precursor’ for the short to medium term, which will evolve into the full Iris service, supporting the long-term objectives of SESAR.”
CGI has worked with ESA for over 35 years on many of their major programmes, such as EGNOS Checkset, which verifies GPS corrections for safety critical applications and Galileo, Europe’s own global navigation satellite system. CGI has extensive software, safety and cyber security expertise in mission-critical space projects. 20 years ago it completed a feasibility study on the software challenges of the projected Rosetta mission as it weaved around the solar system for over 10 years, and today they have 5 people in the European Space Operations Centre’s flight control team that recently guided ESA’s Rosetta space craft and its lander to a comet. These projects make CGI a software partner of choice for Inmarsat.