Tag Archives: satcom services

Inmarsat Partner with Alcatel for SATCOM ServicesThe development of a high-speed ‘hybrid’ air-to-ground SATCOM service is being discussed in a new partnership agreement between Alcatel-Lucent and British satellite communications company, Inmarsat this week. The ATG SATCOM service will provide a new telecom network for commercial and business aviation operators throughout Europe and promises to deliver speeds of up to 75 Mbps.

Combining Alcatel’s 4G LTE S-band technology with Inmarsat’s Europasat will offer a new broadband service ‘Europe-wide’. The partnership are collaborating on the ground network and have submitted applications for licenses in all EU member states, 23 of which have already been authorised according to Inmarsat. As yet, no customers or hardware partners have been formally named, but the companies revealed that they are in ongoing discussions.

Leo Mondale, Inmarsat president, said, “These enhanced capabilities across Europe will be offered alongside Inmarsat’s GX aviation services, extending Inmarsat’s broadband service coverage for aviation passengers seamlessly.”

Commercial introduction is expected towards the end of 2016, although field trials have already been conducted of the Alcatel-Lucent system back in 2011.

Aircraft SATCOM Security ConcernsBritish satellite company, Inmarsat, have responded to SATCOM security concerns raised by cyber security expert, Ruben Santamara, principal security consultant from IOActive Security Services at the Black Hat conference last month, following the publication of a security vulnerabilities white paper.

Santamara explained that some SATCOM systems have vulnerabilities that could allow hackers access to aircraft systems and backed up his claims with proof of how he was able to gain access to Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband SATCOMS through ‘backdoors’. “If we can compromise the SDU,” he said, “we can access the MCDU through the Arinc 429 bus. We can finally reach a critical device in the cockpit.”

Ken Bantoft, vice-president of SATCOM technology and development at SATCOM Direct, argued that the 429 bus has read-only access to the bus, delivering position reporting data and said “You cannot inject data. Transmit and receive are on independent buses. At worst you know where you are.”

Inmarsat emailed their response in terms of SATCOM systems connections and said, “This is really a question that should be directed to the airframe manufacturers. Cyber security on the internal aircraft and network buses is something that airframe manufacturers take very seriously. They have their own stringent cyber-security requirements so that the bus design and avionics connected are implemented in such a way that makes the breaches like the one outlined by IOActive an impossibility.”

Rockwell Collins, who recently signed an agreement with Inmarsat as a value-added reseller of systems said, “Today’s certified avionics systems are designed and built with very high levels of redundancy and security. Simulating these conditions in a lab or virtual environment is not analogous to certified aircraft and systems operating in regulated airspace. The security of these systems is a top priority that we are addressing through collaboration with industry regulators, customers and suppliers. In addition to meeting today’s security needs, we have ongoing research in enhanced security features to respond to evolving security threats.”

Inmarsat SwiiftBroadband Connectivity Providers It has been announced that Inmarsat, the British satellite company, is testing its ACARS-capable SwiftBroadband safety equipment on an Airbus A319. SwiftBroadband Safety is for the fast, reliable and efficient delivery of ACARS messaging over the SwiftBroadband link and also supports flight deck voice services and IP connectivity to the flight deck for mission-critical transmissions.

“This is the start of a revolution in communications for the flight deck. It shows the way forward for Future Air Navigation Systems (FANS) for the nearly 10,000 aircraft currently relying on our Inmarsat Classic Aero services, which were launched over 20 years ago,” said Leo Mondale, Inmarsat’s President of Aviation. “SB Safety provides prioritised voice and ACARS/FANS data transmission when an aircraft is out of reach of land-based communications, which is indispensable for aircraft flying over oceans.”

Updates and other flight operations messaging can be enabled, such as inflight updates to the Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) and Flight Data Recorder equipment.

SwiftBroadband (SB) Safety can be operated on all types of aircraft, from large passenger aircraft to business jets and is expected to achieve certification during early 2016.

“A key point is that SB Safety provides a prioritised IP data pipe for the cockpit, for both security and continuity of service” Mondale added. “This is particularly important for airlines that use SwiftBroadband for both safety services and cabin connectivity.”