Metro Aviation has begun flight testing IRIS, a flight data monitoring, tracking and communications tool that the company says promises to improve the safety of helicopter missions. Using ViaSat's geosynchronous satellite network, IRIS is designed to provide push-to-talk, uninterrupted voice communications and flight tracking in 10-second intervals. Metro proposes to harness excess bandwidth to transmit data—such as aircraft attitude and systems health—normally accessible by downloading an onboard recorder after flight. Initial flight tests are on an Airbus
H135. Metro plans to later test IRIS on a Sikorsky S-92. One purpose of the flight tests is to optimize antenna placement on the helicopter. The air medical providers REACH and Med-Trans Corp. have ordered IRIS.