European Space Agency

Satcom for ATM


In addition to satellite navigation services under deployment, satellite based systems may also offer relevant communication services for Air Traffic Management. They are considered in several CNS/ATM initiatives but, unfortunately, only a limited attention is given to satellite based solutions even if it is recognized that they can complement efficiently terrestrial systems and provide solutions to the growing demand for air transport capacity and safety. In that context, an effort has to be performed by the whole space community to promote such solutions in order to demonstrate to all the aeronautical actors that satellites can provide adequate communication services, compliant with the future ATM missions and constraints on a technical and financial basis.


The main objective of this study is to determine if satellite based systems could be considered as economically viable solutions for safety aeronautical communication services. The outputs of this study are oriented to airspace users and ATM services providers to give them relevant elements on satellite systems for AOC and ATSC services on both technical and economical basis and credibility of deployment scenario insuring transition. The study effort will be focused on the business case development. The cost analysis, the study on the service provisions and the definition of deployment scenarios will be performed to assess several business scenarios. Although these tasks will be the major ones, the business cases will be based on consolidated elements in order to be relevant and acceptable by aviation stakeholders.
Additionally to the business cases assessment, the promotion of satellite benefits and advantages is fundamental to guarantee satellite opportunities in the future aeronautical communication infrastructure. Some efforts will be dedicated to define which activities have to be conducted to validate and certificate a future satellite-based system for AOC and ATSC services. The consortium will establish a roadmap including standardisation activities and service validation/demonstration test-bed.


  • Since the technical ability of satcom to provide enhanced ATSC or AOC services has been already proved, the business case assessment will be the key activity of the study. A special attention will be also put on the road mapping task since it will define future activities.
  • Reaching a large consensus on the satellite solution within the aviation community is a major success factor for the ATM Satcom study. Contributions from most of the actors on the aeronautical communication value chain are needed to develop a convincing and credible business case. Thanks to the involvement of aeronautical key actors in the core team of the consortium and of others companies as consultancy partners, the study will allow a good understanding of the aeronautical needs and a good acceptation of the proposed solutions.
  • Results from this study will feed step D3 from SESAR programme. Timing is critical in order to assure the exchanges between both projects.





Based on the SDLS program, the technical analysis will provide updated elements to ensure compliant with the ATSC and AOC services requirements. Business scenarios will be developed from proposed architectures by system team. The final objective is to provide 


  • a clear comparison of the possible business approaches for the service provision
  • an analysis of the efficiency of the business case From the past consortium experience, it appears that the best methodology to provide such results is to produce a financial analysis which can be declined with different business scenarios. The analysis is expected to provide quantitative results (debt profile, NPV for the public, return on equity, etc?) for each scenario in order to assess efficiently their viability and compare them together with common indicators. Consequently, we have identified 3 major inputs to the analysis:
  • cash flow profiles consistent with the schedule and the operational scenarios assumptions (cost models and revenue models)
  • a risk management strategy and the corresponding risk sharing between the actors of the value chain
  • Business scenarios relying on different funding organization and sharing between public and private actors


The combination of both CNES and ESA resources allows the involvement of several partners in the consortium.
Some partners of the consortium will be part of the ?Core Team? in charge of the realization of the tasks. Other members are the ?Consultancy Partners?. They will provide advice and inputs for enhancing the Core Team work. Two workshops will also be handled during the study to offer an opportunity to exchange between the Consultancy Partners and the Core Team. Core Team is composed by contractors. Airbus, Indra, LFV, DFS, DLR, Airtel, ATOS, Triagnosys & Lufthansa Cargo are the Consultancy Partners.

The study has four main steps:

  • Step 1 covers service requirements consolidation.
  • Step 2 covers the definition of the system architecture.
  • Step 3 will use the steps 2 and 3 outputs to prepare the business case assessment: Service provisioning analysis, deployment study, and cost analysis.
  • Step 4 is the business case development.

These steps cover the main tasks to perform the whole business case analysis. Additional tasks like benchmarking and promotion activities are also covered by this project.

Current status

The study is completed and the Final Presentation took place on July11th, 2007 in Toulouse at the French Civil Aviation Authority DSNA. All presentations can be downloaded from the documentation area on the right side of this page.

The Final report is currently being finalised and shall be made available via the same webpage.

Status date

Saturday, August 9, 2008 - 09:10