Future communications infrastructure and multilink for the long term

In order to achieve full 4D Trajectory-Based Operations (TBO), the need for higher datalink communication capacity and performance is identified in the SESAR vision for the Single European Sky, based on the ICAO Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP) and Global Air Traffic Management Concept. The VDL Mode 2 enabled ATN datalink system provides benefits and capacity in the short term, but in the long term it is expected to be complemented by new datalink technologies with increased capabilities and supporting more stringent operational requirements: satellite communications (SATCOM), L-band Digital Aeronautical Communication System (LDACS) and Aeronautical Mobile Airport Communication System (AeroMACS). The ATM Master Plan envisions this next generation of aeronautical communication infrastructure to be service-oriented and performance-based, in order to support rationalisation, reliability and efficiency of the communication capabilities.

The Future Communications Infrastructure (FCI) is a new Internet Protocol Suite (IPS) System providing the digital and secure communication capabilities able to support integrated Communication, Navigation and Surveillance (CNS). It provides the network functionality necessary to interconnect air and ground end-systems via multiple IP broadband air/ground datalink (multilink) subnetworks and core networks (NewPENS) to support aeronautical data and voice applications for safety and regularity of flight. The FCI is based on communication standards including ATN/IPS and System-Wide Information Management (SWIM) to define the interoperability features needed for data exchange and network management functionality. The FCI is also expected to interface with external networks for legacy ATN/OSI system accommodation, civil-military coordination and information exchanges with commercial IP networks.

Future Communications Infrastructure and multilink for the long term illustration 1

EUROCONTROL is supporting the efforts to prepare for the evolution of the European datalink system into the FCI. The definition, validation and eventual deployment of the FCI and its enabling radio access technologies (SATCOM, LDACS and AeroMACS) is currently underwork in SESAR Wave 2 PJ.14 “Integrated Communication, Navigation and Surveillance System”. Solution 77 “FCI Services” is progressing the maturity of the FCI to TRL6 by means of design and validation of technical specifications and requirements.

EUROCONTROL is a major contributor in SESAR Wave 2 PJ.14 Solution 77, leading the definition and maintenance of the FCI Concept of Operations (ConOps), and the standardization and harmonization in Solution 77. EUROCONTROL is an active contributor in undergoing standardisation efforts related to ATN/IPS services essential for globally interoperable FCI specifications:

  • ICAO WG-Internetworking – currently revising the ICAO 9896 Document “Manual for the ATN using IPS Standards and Protocols”
  • EUROCAE WG-108 ATN/IPS – published ED-262 “Technical Standard of Aviation Profiles for ATN/IPS”, currently working on the ATN/IPS Minimum Aviation System Performance Specification (MASPS)
  • AEEC IPS for Aeronautical Safety Services – published A658 “Roadmap of IPS future activities”, currently working on the A858 “IPS for Aeronautical Safety Services – Technical Requirements”

In addition, we actively support the validation, standardization and deployment of the radio access technologies enabling the FCI:

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Satellite communications datalink


Aeronautical mobile airport communications system datalink


L-band digital aeronautical communication system