Aeronautical mobile airport communications system datalink

Leading international standardisation and harmonisation efforts.

The aeronautical mobile airport communication system (AeroMACS) is the new-generation airport datalink to help airlines, airport authorities and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) cope with increased volumes of data exchange at busy airport surfaces. AeroMACS is an international standard, operating in the aeronautical C-band (5 GHz) for short-range and high-data rate communications. It is based on the commercial 4G technology using the WiMAX standard (IEEE 802.16). It offers a broadband IP datalink with worldwide interoperability, enabling integration of critical communications for air traffic services, airline operational communication and airport authority communications.

In Europe, AeroMACS, is currently operationally deployed at Lisbon airport. Ongoing implementation activities are also taking place in other regions, including US, Japan, China and Brazil, in close coordination with the WiMAX Forum®.


AeroMACS offers a solution to support ATC) and AOC services at the airport surface for safety of life and regularity of flight. It can be used to offload the saturated VHF datalink communications at airports and support new services. AeroMACS helps by:

  • providing higher throughput for airport surface communications,
  • providing relief for the congested very high frequency (VHF) spectrum at airports,
  • supporting worldwide interoperability and the integration of critical communications for air navigation service providers, airspace users and airports,
  • reducing overall costs thanks to synergies gained in sharing infrastructure,
  • offering increased security capabilities,
  • reducing airport congestion and delays,
  • enhancing situational awareness on the airport’s surface,
  • offering protection from interference caused by unauthorised transmissions by operating in ITU regulated spectrum,
  • maintaining (protecting) aeronautical usage for 5 GHz band in ITU and
  • preparing for the integration of future communications infrastructure components with which it will share infrastructure (network, security, etc.).

This technology was selected by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) because of its appropriate frequency spectrum, high capability and suitable performance. It is part  of the ICAO Global Air Navigation Plan (GANP) and the European ATM Master Plan. It represents a mature and validated solution to support mobile (airport service vehicles, hand-held devices and aircraft) and fixed users (sensors, etc.) for safety and regularity of flight communication exchanges at the airport surface for airports, airlines and air navigation service providers.

Our role

Through the SESAR Programme, EUROCONTROL, together with other European partners, has validated the system concept and usage of AeroMACS through simulations and prototype development, as well as led the development of standards in ICAO, EUROCAE/RTCA and the Airlines Electronic Engineering Committee (AEEC).

Since the beginning of SESAR 1, extensive work has been carried out together with participating partners in the framework of project 15.02.07 and project 9.16. In SESAR2020, solution 14.02.06 has picked up on SESAR 1 outcomes and is further working on integration of AeroMACS networks in a multilink environment.

At EUROCONTROL we have led the AeroMACS international standardisation and harmonisation effort. This work has resulted in the publication of global aviation standards supporting globally interoperable AeroMACS systems. In the context of SESAR, our work on AeroMACS resulted in deliverables covering the AeroMACS system requirements (including spectrum), deployment and integration aspects, as well as studies and material produced for the benefit of the aviation community.

We are also actively supporting international harmonisation and dissemination activities in different aviation fora, including the World ATM Congress, ICNS Conference and AEEC Data Link Users Forum, among others.

Our work has contributed to the establishment of the Aviation Working Group (AWG), within the WiMAX Forum®, which is responsible for promoting the introduction of cost-effective broadband wireless access services into the market place. We have provided key input to adapt AeroMACS requirements into the WiMAX profile documents.