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15 October, 2020 - 11:52 By Tony Quested

Satellite superstar supports Cranfield digital aviation tech hub

Inmarsat Cranfield DARTeC

Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, is to provide engineering support, communications services and equipment to Cranfield University’s Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) consortium, supported by Honeywell Aerospace.

Set to open at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire during the first quarter of 2021, DARTeC will spearhead UK research into digital aviation technology. 

The centre will address the most pressing research challenges facing the aviation industry, including the integration of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles into civilian airspace, increasing the efficiency and reliability of airports and aircraft through technology, and creating a safe and secure shared airspace.

Inmarsat and Honeywell Aerospace will support the centre’s research by providing Aspire 400 satellite communications terminals, airtime and engineering expertise in the Saab 340B flying testbed and test lab for evaluation and development of future applications and solutions. 

The Saab 340B will effectively serve as a ‘flying laboratory’ to evaluate multiple advanced radar systems and airborne digital communications.

John Broughton, senior VP of Aircraft Operations and Safety at Inmarsat Aviation said: “Advances in digital aviation are driving innovation opportunities in all aspects of the airline industry. 

“This commitment with Honeywell Aerospace to support DARTeC highlights the importance of creating a collaborative research environment in the aviation industry.

“We are looking forward to working closely with other members of the DARTeC community to reap the rewards of a digital aviation industry for many years to come.”

Mark Goodman, director of product management for Honeywell Aerospace added: “We’re excited to be partnering with Inmarsat to support the DARTeC consortium and bring the benefits of the digital revolution to the aviation industry. 

“There is no time to waste in responding to the opportunities of digital transformation and ensuring that the industry is ready to serve the needs of our airlines today and tomorrow.”

Through the DARTeC consortium, members are able to create, develop and test next generation air traffic control applications for manned and unmanned aviation that will utilise digital voice and data. 

Members will also have access to Inmarsat’s Iris programme fully serviced aircraft for testing, evaluation and demonstrations as well as conducting live Iris test flights with specific air navigation service providers.

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