Progress made with ESN Air-to-Ground trials


A series of “significant trials” have been completed, in preparation for the roll-out of the Emergency Services Network A2G service.

The trials were carried out in the summer by QinetiQ in partnership with Cobham Aerospace Connectivity, the latter which is the prime contractor on the A2G portion of the network. They were designed to “test, integrate and assure” the technology, looking specifically at the airborne component of the aircraft communications system (ACS).

According to a statement, the trial consisted of a bespoke aircraft antenna array, deployed alongside a “customised LTE radio communications and test system.” The technology was integrated into a QinetiQ Agusta A109 helicopter, operating on the ground-test network.

Performance elements tested included range and altitude, handover between the terrestrial network and dedicated A2G Band 40, as well as integration of core Kodiak MCPTT functionality.

Speaking of the trials, chief engineer for the QinetiQ A2G programme, Geoff Clarkson, said: “We’re delighted to have made such significant progress. The system will truly transform the efficiency and effectiveness of the UK emergency services’ air-to-ground communications.”

Cobham vice president aerospace systems, Kevin Dunne, said: “The programme has so far validated that the key concepts of the ACS project are sound, including Kodiak integration and air-to-ground network performance.”

ACS testing and assurance will continue over the course of the next year.

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