European Space Agency



click for larger image

The objective of the ARTES-10 Phoenix study is to define and assess a technical communication standard based on the existing AMSS protocols for satisfying the requirements of Air Traffic Communication services. The design shall be able to support the technical and operational requirements at the least possible cost for the airspace users and can be operated by a certified CSP.

The objective of Artes-10 is to propose a satellite-based communication system to SESAR compatible with mandatory ICAO provisions, that best answers the user requirements and end-to-end concept of operations, and ultimately to include this satellite communication infrastructure in the SESAR ATM Master Plan.

In order to achieve this, an open communications standard which can be deployed world-wide, whilst meeting the stringent performance requirements of ATS/AOC services, is needed. Phoenix also looks at the aircraft avionics that could implement this standard, whilst being small and cheap enough to be acceptable to the end users, and the ground segment architecture that is flexible enough to maintain the autonomy of the ANSPs.

click for larger image

The other objective was to provide preliminary data to support the preparation of a programme proposal for Phase II, for decision at the Ministerial Conference 2008.


The satellite communication system studied was intended to provide point-to-point and broadcast voice and data communications services for ATC and AOC as one potential component of the future dual-link defined by SESAR. The challenges of designing such a system arise from some specifics of the ATM context.

The main difficulty was seen in satisfying the two most important, but competing, requirements, namely to achieve the high reliability required for a safety-of-life service while at the same time assuring low costs.

Another key issue which has a major impact on the entire system is the question of the utilisation of the satellite link for the different type of services in each type of airspace (Airport, En-Route, Oceanic Remote, Polar, and Terminal Manoeuvring Area). The high number of short messages foreseen in the future, requiring short delivery times, placed high demands on the future communications system.


Satellite communications are being used today in ATM for both voice and data communications. Therefore, the question of why a new system has to be studied arises. This need comes from the following considerations:

  • The operational concept of ATM will change substantially. This implies new requirements for the air/ground communications infrastructure. It is against these new requirements that the options examined in the present study need to be compared.
  • The satellite communications solutions used in ATM to date are reported to be not entirely satisfactory. The issues raised include the cost, dimensions and weight of the on-board equipment and the difficulties to install it on board of aircraft, the amount of the service fees. Not all these issues are necessarily of technical origin.


ATM Architecture
The European Union is moving towards implementation of the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR) project for implementing a new Air Traffic Management administrative, operational and technical concept. Satellite communications for Air/Ground communications (i.e. voice and data exchange between aircraft and flight control centres) have an important role to play in the future ATM infrastructure, both in Europe and in the rest of the world. In coordination with the EC, Eurocontrol, ANSP’s and the SESAR consortium, the ARTES 10 Programme intends to define and develop the use of Satcom for ATM communications in the future ATM system defined by SESAR.

click for larger image

Communications System
Satellite Communications are currently being used in ATM today by airlines that operate using systems such as Inmarsat, MTSAT and Iridium. This study examined one feasible approach, which was to adapt the current AMSS protocol to meet the requirements specified in the COCR. AMSS is currently used by these existing satellite communications systems, with the benefit of being already standardised. This acts as a starting point for the work on the communication standard, but does not preclude the idea of a new protocol being used in the future Iris system. The approach was to investigate the re-use of this existing protocol, and potential improvements to cope with these future requirements.

The study also addressed the required ground segment architecture and user terminal design fro the proposed protocol design. A risk analysis was then conducted and a technology roadmap and development plan derived. The ground segment consists of three main components: The Network Management Centre, the Network Control Centre, and the Ground Earth Station. The ground segment must be scalable to suit the needs of any ANSP as well as interfacing with the future SWIM infrastructure. The progressive deployment and operation of the different ground elements is also examined in order to fulfil the requirements of the SESAR Master Plan.


There were three main tasks within the Communication System Design Study:

  • Communications System Architecture definition,
  • Communications System Preliminary Design,
  • Preparation of Future Work,

The work started on the system architecture and preliminary design in March 2008, and the completion of all work was shown at the Iris final public presentation, which took place on 6th February 2009.

Current status

The Astrium Services led consortium kicked-off the Artes-10 “Phoenix” – Communication System Design Study (Phase A) based on the selection of a modified AMSS based starting point.

Work was performed to investigate the modifications required to the AMSS standard in order to meet the requirements. The modifications required to meet the COCR requirements include:

  • Introduction of higher channel rates,
  • More powerful error correction (turbo coding),
  • Examination of handover mechanisms.

The work on the aircraft avionics focused on a design able to give a significant reduction of cost, size and power, as well as addressing integration issues on-board the aircraft.

The ground segment examined the options of centralised and distributed GES architectures allowing ANSPs to maintain their autonomy. The impact of this added complexity on the ground segment elements as well as the operation was studied.

A cost assessment of the modified system, as well as a technology roadmap and risk assessment were presented as part of the study. Finally, the commercial aspects and future work plan were presented.

The project was concluded at the internal final presentation at ESTEC in advance of the Public Presentation of the Iris programme on Feb 6th 2009.

Status date

Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - 12:24