EasyJet leads in ‘next generation’ air traffic solution

EasyJet pioneers innovative air trffic communication service

EasyJet aircraft. Credit: mediacentre.easyjet.com

EasyJet has recently embarked on a pioneering journey with the Iris programme, marking a ground-breaking leap in modernising air traffic management (ATM) and enhancing eco-friendly flying practices.

The landmark initiative was announced on Monday, January 29, involving the European Space Agency (ESA) and Viasat, a global communications company, that witnessed its first commercial operations with easyJet.

As of this year, up to 11 of the airline’s Airbus A320neo aircraft are participating across Europe, a move in line with the Single European Skies initiative.

This development was officially launched by ESSP, the EASA-certified Iris service provider, and is supported by 15 leading Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs).

Advancing towards sustainable skies

The integration of Iris into easyJet’s operations is anticipated to optimise aircraft efficiency, reducing fuel consumption and carbon emissions.

This aligns with easyJet’s commitment to a 35 per cent reduction in carbon emissions intensity by FY2035, based on a FY2019 baseline, and their ultimate goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Efficient airspace utilisation is key to this ambition, as it enables more direct flight paths, shorter flying durations, and reduced fuel usage.

Achieving these objectives is crucial to fulfilling the Single European Sky’s ATM Research (SESAR) vision of a 10 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from European aviation.

Innovative communication technology

Iris represents a technological evolution in aviation, facilitating faster and more reliable satellite communications between aircraft and ground.

This innovation allows air traffic controllers and pilots to calculate the most efficient routes, ensuring optimal cruising altitudes and smoother flight paths.

ESA, leading and funding the Iris project, aims to support the European Policy on Single European Skies with full European coverage. ESA has collaborated with over twenty European industrial companies, with Viasat, the recent acquirer of Inmarsat, as the prime contractor.

The SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) connectivity platform by Viasat is a key component of Iris, enabling multilink data link communications and new ATM functionalities.

Industry leaders’ perspectives

Hugh McConnellogue, Director of Operations & Navigation at easyJet, commented, ‘More efficient use of airspace is a critical way we can tackle the industry’s emissions right now.

Adopting Iris technology on these aircraft will enable easyJet to fly more directly and efficiently, thereby reducing carbon emissions as well as enhancing our on time performance – which in turn improves our customers’ experiences.’

Charlotte Neyret, Chief Executive Officer, ESSP, stated, ‘These first commercial flights are bringing to reality a decade of both vision and investment in this new datalink communication solution to achieve safer and greener aviation.

She added: ‘Iris technology allows the development of new environmentally friendly routes, which will improve ATC management, reduce fuel costs and lead to the deployment of more efficient air operations.’

Javier Benedicto, acting Director of Connectivity and Secure Communications, ESA, remarked, ‘These first Iris commercial flights put Europe firmly at the forefront of the digitalisation and modernisation of Air Traffic Management.

‘Iris enables tangible benefits to the commercial aviation community and society at large, including reduced emissions of carbon dioxide and fewer delays for passengers through more efficient flight paths.

As a follow on of Iris, Iris global, which was launched in 2022, aims to extend the benefit of Iris beyond Europe. This will be achieved through geographical expansion, including Asia, the USA, the Middle East and Australia.’

Joel Klooster, SVP Flight Safety and Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), Viasat, said, ‘We are thrilled to see Iris flying with a leading airline such as easyJet, a crucial step on our pathway to reducing emissions and easing congestion in European skies.’

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.