European Space Agency



The THAUMAS project has been defined around two key objectives:

  1. To provide an ad-hoc satcom solution that complies with the new and stringent ATM expectations identified in the frame of the SESAR programme,
  2. To take benefit from the strong Inmarsat background in the provision of aeronautical services.

Inmarsat was the first civil operator to introduce satellite communications services for the aeronautical industry, with the launch of its first aeronautical service in the early 1990s. Today, more than 10,000 aircraft in the air transport, business aviation and government sectors rely on its in-flight voice and data connectivity Inmarsat is currently the principal satellite operator providing global aeronautical safety services that comply with the safety requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation. This already includes the automatic reporting of an aircraft’s position, and controller-pilot data link communication for clearance and information services.

Inmarsat latest generation aeronautical system, SwiftBroadband, which was developed in cooperation with ESA, offers the potential to support both Oceanic Safety services, and with further modification to meet the more stringent performance requirements demanded in Continental Airspace. Within Iris, the THAUMAS team will research modifications to the system in order to meet the more stringent latency and reliability requirements, and to enable new, smaller, low-cost avionics.

As a result THAUMAS will define the upgrades to SwiftBroadband required to achieve Continental Safety Services for the provision of the future ATM services defined by the SESAR programme. In particular, system design activities will be based on concept of operation known as dual-link (satcom and terrestrial L-DACS), where datalink messages are sent via both paths to increase reliability and availability.

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(The above are sample pictures)


From a technical point of view, the key challenges are in capabilities to transmit short, bursty messages with low latency, and to consider new aircraft equipment compatible with a wider range of aircraft (SwiftBroadband is mainly used on large aircrafts).

Another critical aspect is to define and develop (when required) the verification and validation means that are needed to ensure the compliance with the end users expectations or ATM services requirements.


The overall objective of the Artes10 initiative is to define a satcom solution, compatible with aeronautical needs.

The THAUMAS consortium has been defined around key actors (airframer, equipment provider; satellite operator and manufacturer, and aeronautical communication service provider), with the objective to reach a solution acceptable by all parties, as well as compliant with SESAR requirements.

In particular, the interest of the THAUMAS project will be to reduce the cost of the final the final solution.

In addition, it is expected that this approach will simplify the transition phase between today and the 2020+ context.


The THAUMAS system architecture is widely based around the existing SwiftBroadband (SB) system. SB supports the full set of BGAN services, with standard IP data rates up to 432kbit/s through the standard-fit Aero-H and Aero-I antennas. Swiftbroadband already incorporates techniques to maintain link connectivity in challenging propagation environments encountered over oceans and at high latitudes.

The SB-S system defined within THAUMAS should be part of the dual-link architecture proposed within SESAR to support new applications (for instance 4D trajectory). Looking at further improvement to support ATM services, several points will be considered:

  • Compatibility with Low Gain Antenna (suitable for a wider range of aircraft types), by introducing new channel modulation and coding rates,
  • Mechanisms to efficiently support message traffic characterised by short latency and bursty data traffic,
  • Fast recovery mechanisms to ensure continuity of service in the event of planned maintenance site switches, sub-system failure, etc.
  • Support of decentralised ground segment architectures and seamless handover of aircraft from one Functional Airspace Block to the next.

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The THAUMAS project has completed the steps of clarifying the requirements to be met, and defining the modifications required to reach the compliance of those expectations. This initial phase also addressed the definition of verification and validation plans. The next step will address the detailed definition of the adapted SB protocol as well as its validation (including performance evaluation through simulations under high traffic load).

Current status

The phase 0 of the project has been finalized.

The two main objectives of this first phase were:

  1. 1.To review and comment the System Requirement Document, and to analysis of regulatory context (safety and certification aspects).
  2. 2.To assess the compliance of the SB-S solution vs those requirements.

Both objectives have been completed.


It has been confirmed that SB-S could achieve the full technical compliance to the requirements.

In order to confirm this conclusion, a roadmap has been defined. During next phases, the objectives will be to:

  1. Progress on the regulatory issues, including certification and standardisation aspects,
  2. Continue investigation on system compliance to the targeted requirements,
  3. Carry on the technical activities on system specification and design around critical items (distributed ground network architecture, enhanced resource management for short latency transmissions, support of low gain aircraft antenna),
  4. Initiate verification and validation activities.


Status date

Friday, October 28, 2011 - 14:29