easyJet has become the first airline partner for Iris, a ground-breaking air traffic management (ATM) programme that will help minimise flight delays, save fuel and reduce the environmental impact of air travel.
The programme is led by Inmarsat in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus.
Powered by Inmarsat’s SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) connectivity platform, Iris enables new ATM functionalities such as trajectory-based operations that pinpoint aircraft in four dimensions (latitude, longitude, altitude and time), which will allow the airline to avoid holding patterns, calculate the shortest available routes and optimum altitudes, and benefit from continuous climb and descent pathways.
Powerful onboard digital applications
The additional datalink capacity provided by SB-S will power a host of powerful onboard digital applications, such as AI flight profile optimisers and real-time weather applications.
With the support of leading Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), easyJet will evaluate Iris’ capabilities on up to 11 Airbus A320neos, set to begin flying from November 2022.
Philippe Carette, President of Inmarsat Aviation, said, “The Iris programme from Inmarsat and ESA is a game-changer and we are delighted to have easyJet as our first airline partner. This is not only because of its pioneering commitment to innovation and reducing aviation’s environmental impact, but also because this kick-starts an exciting new era that will help make aviation greener and reduce congestion delays for passengers.”
Crucial step forward
Hugh McConnellogue, easyJet’s Director of Airport Operations and Navigation, said, “Iris is paving the way for more efficient air traffic management, which is a crucial step forward for the aviation industry. The programme brings multiple benefits, from helping us to achieve our environmental goals by further reducing our carbon emissions, to providing a better experience for our passengers. We’re excited to be leading in this space, setting the standard for the industry and hope to see more airlines follow suit.”
Elodie Viau, Director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA, said: “This innovation has been an enormous undertaking by ESA, Inmarsat and more than 30 other companies within the space and aviation industry, so to see it finally ‘take to the skies’ in a live operational environment is very exciting. European airspace is crying out for a solution to its capacity issues, and advanced satellite technology is the only way to set the industry up for a better – and greener – future.”