Commercial, Connectivity

Cebu Pacific Equips Airbus A330neo fleet with SITA Swiftbroadband Cockpit Connectivity

Cebu Pacific received its first new Airbus A330neo, pictured here, in November, and will equip each of the aircraft with an upgraded version of SITA's AIRCOM cockpit connectivity service. (Airbus)

Cebu Pacific Air, the Manila, Philippines-based low cost airline, will equip its fleet of Airbus A330neo aircraft with an upgraded form of SITA for Aircraft’s AIRCOM cockpit connectivity technology with Swiftbroadband-Safety (SB-S).

The AIRCOM connectivity is being factory-installed on a fleet of 16 new A330neos from an Airbus order first placed by Cebu Pacific in 2019, that now also includes a Flight Hour Services (FHS) materials management contract signed by the two companies during the 2022 Singapore Air Show last month. SITA first signed a global connectivity services distribution agreement with Inmarsat in 2017 to start leveraging Swiftbroadband-Safety within its suite of cockpit communication applications that it now brands as AIRCOM Cockpit Services.

SB-S is Inmarsat’s Aircraft Communication, Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) over Internet Protocol (IP) networking technology that permits previous aircraft data transmissions solely done over the legacy ACARS network to be done faster and cheaper using IP as a gateway for air-to-ground and aircraft-to-controller data transmissions and messaging.

Sumesh Patel, President of Asia Pacific, SITA, said in a statement that “Cebu Pacific is the first airline to take advantage of these capabilities to boost safety and deliver greater operational efficiencies on their new fleet.”

Three specific connection types are provided over SB-S, including character-based ACARS data services for Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Contract (ADS-C) and Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC). ADS-C, CPDLC, real-time prison reporting, and flight data streaming along with aircraft performance data downloads can also be provided over the SB-S prioritized IP channel. Additionally, the regular IP channel can be used as a voice and data communication channel for Airline Administrative Control (AAC) and Airline Operations Center (AOC) applications.

According to SITA, some of the specific applications Cebu Pacific can use on AIRCOM with SB-S that are not enabled without Swiftbroadband include real-time updates for flight optimization tools and graphical weather applications.

The SITA cockpit connectivity agreement for Cebu Pacific comes following the airline’s announcement earlier this month that it will begin expanding its domestic network, including re-starting flights to Siargao, Surigao, and Calbayog after closing those and many other routes due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

Cebu Pacific received its first A330neo in December and now has two of the 459-seat aircraft in its fleet. Mike Szucs, Chief Executive Adviser at Cebu Pacific, expects every Airbus model aircraft in its fleet to feature the new engine option variant by 2027.

“We turned to SITA given their expertise in the aircraft domain to help us navigate the challenges and complexities of the aircraft communications landscape, and prepare us for that future,” Javier Massot, Chief Operations Adviser, Cebu Pacific Air, said in a statement. “Having high-speed connectivity and greater capacity is essential to access more advanced digital applications that support decision-making onboard. It will enable our pilots and operational staff to access information in real-time and deliver a better service for our passengers.”

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