Airbus A220 Gets New Iridium Satcom Option

The Airbus A220, pictured here, preparing for a demo flight at Chubu International Airport in Japan, has a new Iridium satcom option. Photo: Airbus

Under a new agreement between L3Harris Technologies and Airbus, the A220 has a new line-fit satellite communications option, the Automated Flight Information Recording System (AFIRS) 228s, for enabling Iridium services.

L3Harris serves as the prime subcontractor to Airbus for the A220, A320 and A330 for the enablement of Iridium voice and data services. FLYHT has been subcontracted by L3Harris to provide aircraft modifications to the baseline version of the AFIRS 228 to meet the human machine interface (HMI) requirements of the A220 cockpit design philosophy, a representative for L3Harris told Avionics International.

“The solution provides reliable long range communications for FANS and ACARS messages and ETOP operations in addition to voice and data Airline Administrative (AAC) Communications using the high reliable Iridium [constellation] with global coverage. The AOC messages are used by airlines to improve operational efficiency,” the L3Harris representative said.

A220 operators or airlines purchasing the former C Series aircraft will now be able to use the AFIRS system for air traffic safety voice, future air navigation system and airlines operations control over Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS), the L3Harris representative said.

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“Extending our coverage to Airbus’ newest aircraft family member makes sense for both partners, providing efficiency and a high-value SATCOM solution for airlines. To date, it has enabled the shipment of over 1,500 units to Airbus,” Tom Schmultz, CEO of FLYHT Aerospace said in a statement.

Becoming a new satcom option for the A220 is the latest industry achievement for the AFIRS system, coming a year after it demonstrated the ability to meet the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) 2021 autonomous distress tracking requirement. During the 2018 Boeing ecoDemonstrator program, a FedEx 777 equipped with AFIRS was able to capture ARINC 717 data and stream any information classified as placing the aircraft under distress conditions.

FLYHT’s AFIRS system is now an option for Iridium voice and data services on the Airbus A220. Photo: FLYHT

The new satcom option is also the latest of several program updates for the Airbus A220 over the last year. Airbus officially started manufacturing its first A220s built in the U.S. on August 5, 2019. The first U.S.-made A220 – an A220-300 destined for Delta Air Lines – is scheduled for delivery in the third quarter of 2020. By the middle of the next decade, Airbus expects the facility to produce between 40 and 50 A220s per year.

Airbus also added CATIII autoland certification to the A220’s European type certification in November 2018, several months prior to Delta Air Lines becoming the first U.S. carrier to start passenger-carrying flights with the aircraft.

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