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The final stage of the ESN Aircraft Communication System (ACS) Technical Demonstrator Programme (TDP) included a successful in-flight demonstration of the core Kodiak Mission Critical Push To Talk (MCPTT) application. The Kodiak MCPTT application enables essential mission-critical voice communications over 4G/LTE networks and supports the range of functionality required for critical Emergency Service and other Public Safety operations. The TDP, a key element in the ACS development, was conducted jointly between Chelton and QinetiQ.
The final phase of the TDP successfully established two-way voice communication to an airborne platform, using the Kodiak application. Kodiak was run on test hardware installed on a QinetiQ A109 flight-trials helicopter and was used to communicate with a terminal on the ground over a dedicated terrestrial cellular test network, which was representative of the final ESN ACS ground network. Encouraging results were obtained for both uplink and downlink and an analysis of audio recordings indicated an excellent level of speech quality. The tests demonstrated sustained voice communications during cell handovers and switching between the ESN terrestrial network and the dedicated ACS Band 40 network – all during archetypal flight manoeuvres.
The results will be used to assure the technology for the new 4G LTE Aircraft Communications System (ACS) that will transform the connectivity, reliability and effectiveness of the Emergency Services Air to Ground communications in England, Scotland and Wales. The ACS will be a world first for the application of 4G LTE in this manner. The ACS is a key component of the UK’s Emergency Service Network, which is being delivered by the Home Office Emergency Services Mobile Communications Programme (ESMCP).
Chelton’s Vice President, Antenna Systems, Kevin Dunne, said, “As we draw the Technical Demonstrator Programme to a close we are delighted by the positive test results seen with our test and certification partner QinetiQ, culminating in the successful operation of Kodiak over LTE demonstrated throughout the flight testing. The TDP has significantly reduced risk for the overall ACS and ESMCP programme, ensuring that Chelton delivers a world leading, secure and resilient mission critical communication system the emergency services can rely on.”
Geoff Clarkson, Chief Engineer for the QinetiQ A2G programme, added “This is another significant step forward in delivering the technical performance required from the new Aircraft Communications System”
Working with Chelton, QinetiQ is delivering a wide range of activities into the ACS program, including bespoke software applications, specialist 4G/LTE consultancy and operational Service Management, in addition to providing Airborne Test & Assurance capabilities. Under Chelton’s prime contractorship, the two companies will deliver an assured programme for the Emergency Services, backed by 10 years of through-life support with the option to extend for a further 5 years. The ESN ACS 4G/LTE is expected to equip more than 100 air platforms in England, Scotland and Wales engaged in public-safety duties, including NPAS (police) and Air Ambulance fixed and rotary-wing aircraft.
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