AERONAUTICAL COMMUNICATIONS PANEL (ACP)
Working Group C – 7th meeting
19-23 April 2004
Agenda item 8: Institutional Considerations
An inventory of institutional elements
Presented and prepared by Kors van den Boogaaard (IATA)
For a successful implementation of new systems there are three
interdependent elements to be considered: the technology, users need
(requirements) and the institutional arrangements of the environment in
which a new system has to operate. This paper is intended to be a first
straw man on the institutional elements, which need to be taken into
consideration to ensure a successful implementation of a new
Aviation’s track record of successful implementation of standardised systems has been
blemished over the last two decades. The failure to implement ICAO standardised new
systems are most often not related to the chosen technology, but due to the uncertainty
around the requirements and the rigid structured and highly formalized aviation
industry: “the institute-aviation”.
Taking the benefit from previous inputs to ACP-C (See References), this paper is
intended to be the first straw man on the “institutional elements”. These elements need
to be taken into consideration in union with the task of WG-C task to: Conduct the
necessary studies for the developments of air-ground communication systems for
aeronautical safety applications, including the development of Standards and
Recommended Practices (SARPs) and guidance material as required”
The “institute-aviation” encompasses numerous principles and laws to ensure safety.
These principles and laws have been of significant benefit to international aviation,
however they are established on a framework becoming increasingly antiquated and
based on technologic limitations from the past. With the conception of the new
CNS/ATM environment it was recognized that implementation of the new technology
would be mainly cost/benefit driven with as exception those cases where safety needed
to be improved.
Those areas where present systems cannot sustain the anticipated communication traffic
will drive the potential need for the introduction of a new air-ground communication
system. Under this notion the institutional elements in relation to air ground
communication should be looked at principally from a cost/benefit perspective
The institutional elements identified up to present are the following:
• Radio Spectrum Access
• Safety versus non safety need
• Operational Approval
• Service provision
• Implementation Planning
The business case
In all industries system implementation can only be successful if there is a business case
and aviation is no exception. Although improvements in the communication
infrastructure would benefit the aviation industry as a whole, the return on investment
can be largely different between the stakeholders and even in some cases be negative
due to the interdependence of the investment decision between each stakeholder.
The main stakeholders can be categorized as follows:
• Airspace Users
• Air Traffic Service Providers
• Communication service providers
• Network service providers
• Airframe manufactures
• Equipment manufacturers
The benefits from the implementations of a new communication system can be grouped
a) Increased Airport and Airspace capacity
b) Reduction of delays
c) Reduction of infrastructure costs and
d) Reduction of communication costs.
As a) and b) are the principle drivers for a new communication system, the effect from
the institutional elements will be mainly have effect on the costs for the deployment and
operation of a new communication system and could significantly contribute to the
whole system costs.
Cost and Benefit Assessment
An important part of the business justification will be an assessment of the costs and
benefits of a change in technology. It is important to estimate costs incurred in
implementing or using the system for each of the stakeholders. The cost assessment has to
cover all phases of the life cycle of an operational improvement from planning, research,
and investment to operation.
For the ATM system this has to be seen as the costs of the operational improvements to
the ATM stakeholders (ATM/CNS regulators, service providers and users) and how
these costs are shared. For an airline these costs include installation and operation costs.
The benefits from using a technological solution must be clearly identified and
Consideration must be given to the choice between a market driven option or a
regulatory decision to mandate the use of a new communication system.
Business Aspects and the stakeholders
The use of a new generation communication system could be of benefit to aviation
provided it offers an adequate quality of service at an acceptable cost. In Europe such a
system could provide the required future communication capacity to cope with air traffic
growth and ATM improvements taking into account the existing congestion of the VHF
band. In other parts of the world benefits could arise from the provision of
communication for air traffic services where it has not been possible and from reducing
ground infrastructure costs.
A range of options exists, ranging from using or adapting available systems and services
to the development and deployment of a new communication system. It is considered
that the launch of a dedicated aviation safety system might not be financially viable but
options such as leasing networks and including non-safety communication could lower
infrastructure and operating costs.
This set of stakeholders is crucial in the acceptance of a new system as each aircraft will
need to be equipped with the appropriate avionics this group will incur the greatest
collective expenditure and therefore the business benefit has to be clear to them.
To prevent the carrying of unnecessary multiplication of equipment, global and regional
harmonization is essential. The avionics should have potentially the ability to migrate to
a new infrastructure with minimal certification and preferably be installed during aircraft
production, leading to lower certification, implementation and transition costs.
The Return On Investment (ROI), as calculated by each airline is highly depending on
the size, age and type of fleet and the area of operation.
Air Traffic Service Organisation
This group of stakeholders uses the communications system as enabling technology to
give the airspace users a service, which can be based on mandatory or voluntary
equipage. Using an improved communication service to provide better operational
capability will provide efficiency and capacity gains. The ATSO recovers its
communication costs in general through taxes and or users charges. Traditionally
ATSOs owned and operated the ATC communication systems, however the use of a
CSP and NSP becomes increasingly the usual arrangement.
Communication Service Provider
A CSP can provide communication - usually in competition with other CSPs - to the
ATSO and the airspace user’s ground facility (e.g. an airline operational centre). This
can be voice and/or data services.
The CSP will make its investment decision on the market to provide non ATM
communication and the potential of service contract with ATSOs.
Network Service Provider
The NSP could be a CSP or a service broker providing interoperability between the
various sub networks while guaranteeing and end-to end QOS. CSPs make
arrangements with the NSPs to enable them to provide an end to end services. They are
probably the key actors in terms of risk sharing and service contracts
For industry to commit to developing or enhancing products to meet the requirements,
they have to see a clear commitment to implement a new system. They will need to
invest in the development, marketing and production process. The business case should
extend along the whole value chain from chip supplier to customer. During the initial
feasibility stage the industry will be reluctant to fund R&D due to the high market risk
For the avionics manufacturer the size of the market is an important consideration. The
greater the market the more interest there is likely to be in industry, encouraging
competition. The target market of aircraft will determine the size and also the expected
cost of avionics. For example, the commercial airline market tends to use higher quality
and higher price equipment than the general aviation market. This has to be taken into
account when planning the business case.
Radio Spectrum Access
Traditionally aviation was privileged with an unchallenged exclusive allocation of
bandwidth. However, the mobile communication explosion has created an atmosphere in
which all allocations are challenged and a growing need for sharing spectrum between
different users to satisfy the demand for radio spectrum. To force the new and existing
radio spectrum users to become more spectrum efficient, the radio administration are
increasingly looking for new ways to manage the spectrum such as auctioning, spectrum
trading and administrative incentive pricing.
Presently aviation is only charged with administrative licensing costs and it has to be
assured that within a new framework within ITU of spectrum management, the spectrum
access costs will not result in a hidden tax to aviation.
The need to share bandwidth with other users has the potential risk that the aviation
industry will be burdened with the costs for investment to improve spectrum efficiency
for the benefit of other industries.
To ensure protection and performance of safety and regularity of flight communications,
the system must operate in a specific part of the radio spectrum, namely the aeronautical
mobile-satellite (R) service. If other bands are proposed a convincing argument needs to
be made that this will be suitable.
Safety versus Non-safety need
When satellite communication was first contemplated for aviation, the proposed was
intended to satisfy both the safety and non-safety need for air ground communication. It
was largely to offset the high cost for safety communications with the potential revenues
from non-safety communications. Conducting safety and non-safety traffic over the
same infrastructure could potentially result in lower overall fixed and variable costs for
communications and increased competition.
The following considerations will to a large extent decide whether segregation or
integration of safety and non-safety communication is beneficial:
• Appropriate RF band – is the system operating in a designated AM(R)S
or AMS(R)S band, which allows AMS or AMSS ?
• Does aviation has to bid for bandwidth to conduct non- safety air
• Priority – do safety communications get priority over non-safety traffic?
• Certification to correct level – are the avionics certified to the
• Is the supporting network developed to the appropriate standards and
• Is there a potential to offer various levels of QoS –including price
differentiation and how can they be guaranteed ?
• Will the resulting increased traffic from integrating safety and non-
safety traffic encourage competition?
A fundamental choice that has to be made is the type of communications traffic to be
supported. It needs to determined whether the requirements for safety and regularity of
flight communications only i.e. ATS and AOC would prevent the support of non-safety
communications i.e. AAC and APC. The inclusion might be considered necessary as
part of the business justification.
RR spectrum allocation and usage.
To ensure global interoperability, ICAO develops standards and recommended practices
(SARPS), Technical and Implementation Manuals.
This process is costly both for ICAO and for the member States that support the
standardization activity in panel meetings and working groups. To ensure that the
standardization process is not started prematurely ICAO has developed a set of
acceptability criteria, which any new satellite communications system must comply
prior to being considered. (See 11th ANC report)
Other standards activities
In addition to ICAO standards, to get to a product certification will require additional
standards. These include Minimum Operational Performance Standards (MOPS) and
Minimum Aviation System Performance Standards (MASPS), which are typically
developed by EUROCAE or RTCA.
Other industry standards such as airline form, fit and function standards and airborne
integration are developed through the Airline Electronic Engineering Committee
This is an important issue, which has to be considered at an early stage in the
development cycle. For a new system knowledge of what applications the system will be
used for is very important, as this will dictate the design and development methodology
and the level of software certification.. For existing systems that were not designed for
safety applications it may be possible to adopt reverse engineering to demonstrate that
they have the capability to meet the requirements but this could be expensive.
In the past the use of dedicated spectrum and RF resources were used to ensure
connectivity on a prioritized basis. However, the total network connectivity had those
RF resources connected to traditional phone lines to connection to centralized
distribution systems. Aircraft were required to certify their performance using both the
airborne and ground assets including those standard telephone networks. Service
providers offered Quality of Service contracts to ensure that the timeliness and
robustness of the system. Nevertheless, the system utilized commercial assets that were
never “certified”. The terrestrial systems of AT&T, British Telecom, Sprint, MCI, etc.,
were all interconnected and the services provided with availability and reliability
parameters established. These systems were used for safety services as well as
As an industry we have developed test protocols for certifying the elements of the
subnetwork that we can control. But the future holds that the greatest affordable and
available bandwidth will come from commercial sources. By developing the
applications in a way to support the secure, timely information exchanges we can take
advantage of the available spectrum without the burden of trying to manage technology
refresh cycles of RF or terrestrial networks. The banking community has adopted this
position and is realizing the benefit of using cost-effective network resources to meet
their highly specialized and secure requirements. Medical networks represent another
example of how hospitals and remote care facilities can utilize commercial assets to
provide high quality of care to their patients.
(RSP development/airspace based)
The ATS communication service provision is highly monopolistic, resulting in relative
high costs for low grade of service. System selection is increasingly been driven by
National and Regional economic and political interest reducing the safety and efficiency
benefits from global operating systems. This will to a large extent reduce the potential
for commercial service providers to serve the industry on a global basis.
The present aviation communication systems are owned, managed and services by
various agencies for which with a view exceptions the provision of communication is a
supporting function to their main task being the provision of Air Traffic Services.
Considering the increasing use of communications, the potential of sharing
infrastructures needs to be assessed as a means to control the operating and investments
costs. In particular for smaller agencies outsourcing can be professionally and
financially rewarding. One of the most significant issues facing Air Traffic Service
providers is the spiraling life-cycle cost of the communication system. Outsourcing the
radio communication services can reduce the life cycle costs on a number of fronts.
Reduction in staff in engineering and maintenance are some examples. Also when
replacement or modernization is required, it isn’t necessary to find funding for
multimillion-dollar injections. It means costs are leveled instead of recurring periodic
high lump-sum requirements. The lack of funding results often that the agency can’t
keep up with technological advances. This easily leads to a fragmented aeronautical
communication network putting global interoperability at risk.
The main argument against outsourcing is safety and perceived lack of control.
However, through tight contractual clauses with a professional qualified service broker
the required national Quality of Service can be obtained within a global aeronautical
Outsourcing can take many forms. It can range from contracting technical management
to the more complex business of defining the functions and QOS and then handing over
the entire job to a communication provider. However, the control should remain in the
hand of the user.
Service Level Agreement
In offering a service for safety related communications some form of guarantee for
continuity, availability and integrity of the satellite communication service should be
agreed. This could include the development of a Service Level Agreement between one
or more parties. In the context of a global service, a commonly agreed set of parameters
may be necessary. (RSP)
For commercial communication service providers interoperability is not so much a
standardization issue but a business case
Typical arrangements that may be considered include –
• Single ATSO service provision – under this arrangement an ATSO deploys its own
service or contracts with a CSP or NSP.
• Multiple ATSOs service provision – under this arrangement a number of ATSOs
within a region collectively contract with a NSP for services.
• Airline contracts with a CSP/NSP - To an airline contracts a certified NSP for safety
and non-safety communication services.
Since the establishment of the new CNS/ATM concept, most a numerous of ATSOs
have privatized and have become more commercially orientated.
It is extremely unlikely that a new global service would be owned and financed by the
public sector or by a single operator. Therefore, any new initiative must rely on the
market, competition and the involvement of all operators on a voluntary basis.
Transition rate: Global/Regional/National Planning
Transition costs; duplication
The introduction of future technology asks that we also consider the overall
standardization and implementation processes. The introduction of satellite
communications technology has illustrated for us the degree of technology refreshes that
we must consider. We are faced with the potential for technology introductions that are
inconsistent with our processes.
In the past we enjoyed long cycles of technological introduction and use. The typical
cycle of standards development (i.e. Standards and Recommended Practices [SARPS]
followed by Minimum Aviation System Performance [MASPS] and the Minimal
Operational System Performance Standards [MOPS]) which help create the technical
requirements for system and equipment design far outlives the current technology cycle.
This is then followed by the design and development and implementation phases of a
2.1 As an industry we have transitioned from a 17 year cycle (derived from historical
data) to one that appears to be less than 7 years. (This is typified by the refresh rate
of satellite systems.) This supported the business cases for system and product
development. Commercial systems move even faster, as demonstrated by the
technology increments for mobile telephone technology.
We must seek a higher degree of coordination and integration between the industry
groups. We can no longer afford a sequential process if we are to take advantage of the
emerging technologies. We face the problem of being overcome by technological
events if we adhere to the existing framework of standardization, development and
implementation. We face the pressure driven by commercial enterprises, whose focus is
that of profit, to establish and field solutions that will challenge our own ability to
WGC6/WP7 Status and review of the emerging satellite communication technologies-
WGC6/WP8 Institutional and business model aspects for a new satellite communication
WGC6/WP13 Evolving Technology and the Impact on Communications Infrastructure-
WGC6/WP814Impact of Technology Migrations Rockwell Collins