In-flight weather warning
Fliers can now use an app to receive and transmit inflight updates on weather hazards.
The Planet (Plane Network) service is offered to light, business and regional aircraft, and can alert crews on real-time of hazards ahead - rather than them relying entirely on pre-flight briefing.
And, in return, the aircraft involved boost the number of in-situ measurements of the likes of pressure, temperature and wind sent to forecasters. Until now, such measurements were provided routinely only by commercial airlines.
The on-board kit comprises an antenna, Planet terminal and the app - which is typically installed on a tablet, such as an iPad, or integrated into flight hardware.
The system provides a permanent communications link using Iridium or Inmarsat satellite networks during flight, switching to terrestrial cellular networks on the ground.
GNSS is used during flight for tracking and monitoring the aircraft and stamping in-situ measurements with precise time and location.
The app displays a map with information such as track, atmospheric conditions and the type of weather information the pilot has requested - and part of the screen handles incoming and outgoing messages.
Additionally, through a simple graphical interface, messages can be exchanged with operators on the ground or other fliers, along with pilot reports on weather and requests for services.
Hence, flying clubs and fleet operators can track the position of their aircraft in real time and communicate with pilots via instant messaging. Air traffic authorities can also use the system.
Atmosphere-F - a small company in Toulouse - developed the Planet service with the support of ESA, in collaboration with the DLR German Space Center, TriaGnoSys and Météo-France. The current system uses an enhanced avionics unit certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for integration into the cockpit.
Details from ESA below . .