Inmarsat to support Cranfield University’s new Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre

DARTeC will receive satellite communications terminals, airtime and engineering expertise from Inmarsat

Cranfield University’s Digital Aviation Research and Technology Centre (DARTeC) is set to open its doors during the first quarter of 2021 and has formed a consortium of global aviation leaders who will address future challenges and opportunities in the aviation industry. The consortium includes the likes of Thales, Boeing, Saab and the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

Inmarsat is the latest to back the forthcoming centre, which will spearhead the UK’s research into digital aviation technology and address a range of the industry’s most pressing issues, such as using secure data communication infrastructure to create safe shared airspace, and successfully integrating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) - commonly known as drones - into civilian airspace.

Inmarsat, with support from Honeywell Aerospace, will offer a range of engineering support, communications services and equipment to DARTeC. These will be utilised in DARTeC’s Saab 340B, a ‘flying laboratory’ where multiple advanced radar systems and airborne digital communications will be developed and evaluated.

Members of the DARTeC consortium will have access to the fully serviced aircraft, integrated within Inmarsat’s Iris air traffic modernisation programme, which can be used for testing, evaluation and demonstrations, in addition to conducting Iris test flights with specific air navigation service providers (ANSPs).

“Advances in digital aviation are driving innovation opportunities in all aspects of the airline industry,” said John Broughton, Inmarsat Aviation’s Senior Vice President of Aircraft Operations and Safety. “Today’s commitment with Honeywell Aerospace to support DARTeC highlights the importance of creating a collaborative research environment in the aviation industry. We are looking forward to working closely with other members of the DARTeC community to reap the rewards of a digital aviation industry for many years to come.”

The comments were echoed by Mark Goodman, Honeywell’s Director of Product Management. “We’re excited to be partnering with Inmarsat to support the DARTeC consortium and bring the benefits of the digital revolution to the aviation industry,” he added. “There is no time to waste in responding to the opportunities of digital transformation and ensuring that the industry is ready to serve the needs of our airlines today and tomorrow.”