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Rockwell Collins adds Iridium to comms range
Avionics giant Rockwell Collins has added Iridium satcoms to its range of communications products for air transport through an agreement to market equipment built by Virginia-based International Communications Group (ICG).
Rockwell Collins is now offering ICG’s dual and triple-channel NxtLink Iridium systems as the IRT-2110 and IRT-2120 respectively.
The move represents another step by the Iridium community towards the air transport mainstream. Already increasingly well represented in the business, airwork and general aviation markets through its lightweight voice and low-rate data capabilities, Iridium is working to achieve ICAO certification to support safety (air traffic control) applications for long-haul air transport. It has also announced plans to rectify its perceived lack of bandwidth by developing an aeronautical system capable of offering up to 128kbit/sec.
Last year Iridium introduced OpenPort, a maritime product that provides IP data speeds of up to 128kbit/sec plus three voice lines. It is now preparing to launch development of an aviation version designed to deliver 128kbit/sec per channel into the aircraft for cabin applications. The system was due to have been commercially available by the end of this year, but it is understood that this milestone has now slipped several months into 2010.
In the meantime, the Rockwell Collins/ICG tie-up gives Iridium an entree to the flight deck, where their joint offering will be used for operational and administrative communications. “The IRT devices allow us to round out our portfolio of communications systems for air transport, which also includes HF radio, HF datalink and Inmarsat satcoms,” says Steve Timm, general manager of information management at Rockwell Collins.
The IRT-2110 comprises a single Iridium transceiver and a short-burst data (SBD) modem. IRT-2120 has three transceivers and provides two channels for voice and one for datalink. Both support Future Air Navigation System (FANS) and controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) – the safety applications for which Iridium is seeking ICAO approval – and the established ACARS operational datalink.
Both devices come with an external configuration identification module (CIM) containing the Iridium SIM cards and system configuration information. Keeping this information with the aircraft at all times, the CIM eliminates the need to update databases and reassign numbers when system boxes are swapped out for maintenance or repair.
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