French air navigation service provider (ANSP) DSNA has joined a consortium of European ANSPs participating in the Iris satellite-based data link program, Inmarsat announced Aug. 14.

Developed by a public-private partnership of Inmarsat and the European Space Agency (ESA), Iris will be a text-based data link between pilots and controllers using Inmarsat’s Swiftbroadband-Safety service over L-band satellites.

The capability will relieve existing VHF Digital Link (VDL) Mode 2 radio congestion in Europe and support more efficient “4D” aircraft trajectories, adding a time element to the dimensions of latitude, longitude and altitude for more precise flight tracking and management.

Following the conclusion of a five-year research program, Iris entered the commercial implementation phase in March. Full commercial service is scheduled to begin in 2021-22.

As part of its involvement in the program, DSNA has agreed to capture performance data from pilot flight demonstrations. It joins five other ANSPs participating in an initial operational capability pilot effort with Inmarsat and ESA: DFS of Germany, Enaire of Spain, Enav of Italy, the Eurocontrol Maastricht Upper Area Control Center and UK NATS.

“Iris has the potential to deliver the additional data-link bandwidth beyond VDL Mode 2 to cope with increasing data-link data volume as European airspace continues to get busier,” DSNA CEO Maurice Georges said.

“We now need to assess how this new system can secure future Controller Pilot Data Link Communications performance, enabling new applications like 4D trajectories,” Georges added.

Bill Carey,