Italian Airline Signs Up for Space-enabled Flights
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Mar 8, 2023

Italian Airline Signs Up for Space-enabled Flights

Passengers flying on Italy’s national carrier ITA Airways will experience fewer flight delays and greener travel thanks to pilots being able to use satellites to route their planes.

The ESA-backed Iris for aviation system connects pilots digitally to air traffic controllers via satellites, so that flight routes can be optimised. Pilots will be able to fly the most efficient routes, saving time and fuel, while cutting emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Iris system complements the outdated data communications technology that is used at present and is nearing full capacity in Europe’s congested airspace.

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The European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation – Eurocontrol – has identified that improved air traffic management could cut emissions of carbon dioxide by up to 10%.

With large quantities of data relayed to and from the aircraft, Iris provides secure, reliable and fast high-bandwidth links between pilots and air traffic controllers.

ESA developed the Iris system in partnership with UK-based satellite communication company Inmarsat.

The Italian national carrier will equip all its new aircraft with the Iris technology, which is supported by air traffic controllers in 14 countries across Europe.

Five airlines have now equipped aircraft with the Iris technology: Virgin Atlantic, Jet2, and Transavia Airlines, as well as ITA Airways and easyJet.

Alessio Leone, Head of Camo Operations at ITA Airways, said: “We are proud to join the Iris programme, which is fully in line with our growth strategy as it reflects two of the core pillars of ITA Airways: sustainability and innovation. ITA Airways is the first full-service carrier in Europe with a new fleet fully equipped with this cutting-edge technology by Inmarsat Aviation, delivering operational and environmental benefits.”

Joel Klooster, Inmarsat Aviation’s Senior Vice President of Aircraft Operations and Safety, said: “We are delighted to welcome ITA Airways as the second airline to join Iris, coming only months after easyJet was announced as the first airline. This shows the impressive momentum that continues to build around the programme as it heads towards commercial service introduction in Europe this year, followed by a full global rollout. Iris will mark a transformational step-change in air traffic management, delivering operational and environment benefits for airlines and the aviation industry as a whole, while also enhancing the flight experience for passengers.”

Javier Benedicto, Acting Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “We are proud to support the space-enabled digitalisation of Europe’s skies, which will help to make aviation greener. ESA developed the Iris system in partnership with Inmarsat and we welcome ITA Airways as the first national carrier and the second airline to sign up to use it. Investing in space improves life on Earth.”

European Space Agency (ESA)
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