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Cockpit and Cabin Connectivity

What is FANS 1/A?

Learn what FANS and FANS 1/A is and what it means for your operations.

  1. What is FANS 1/A?
  2. Why should I care?
  3. Benefits
  4. What equipment do I need?
  5. Key dates
  6. FANS 1/A Satcom Solutions



You've probably arrived here because you're asking the question - what is FANS 1/A? Let's start by taking the first part of the question and answering - what is FANS? FANS is a data link based technology allowing pilots and ATC (Air Traffic Control) to communicate using digital text communications over CPDLC (Controller Pilot Data Link Communications). So what is FANS 1/A? FANS 1/A is the later standard that introduces ADS-C, reporting aircraft position, altitude, speed and met data to ATC and requires a satcom (satellite communications) data link.


The implementation of FANS 1/A is driven by the need to accommodate more aircraft in a given airspace safely, and in particular to solve the challenge of poor radar coverage over oceanic routes and the challenge of bad communications over HF radio (High Frequency). FANS is specifically aimed at the North Atlantic Tracks (NAT), six highways in the sky over the North Atlantic, but similar mandates are following in other regions, such as Europe with IRIS and China with the CAAC 4-minute mandate.



The Operational Advantage of Cockpit Connectivity




Why should I care?


As the FANS 1/A mandates come into force, operators not equipped for FANS 1/A will be excluded from airspace which requires it, forcing them to take the long route around or fly at lower altitudes where the full effect of jet streams and winds cannot be taken advantage of. FANS 1/A mandates of compliance have already come into force and are currently restricting the entire ICAO NAT region between FL350 and FL390 (FL means Flight Level or Altitude FL350 = 35,000 ft).


Due to the increased distance of going the long way around, or the inability to make use of the best jet streams means that many business jets will simply not have the range to make the trip. For airlines, the increased cost may render their operations unaffordable. 








Reduced Separation 



The elements that make up FANS 1/a, such as Automatic Dependent Surveillance (ADS-C), deliver GPS position and intent via satellite communications. This increase visibility for ATC allows the separation of aircraft in the region to be reduced to 30nm latitudinal and longitudinally, a 50% reduction. Increased airspace capacity means a greater availability of desired routes for aircraft using the airspace. 





Improved Communications Quality


CPDLC reduces the burden on pilots, and Voice Over IP technology known as ICAO Voice can be used over the satcom connection. Both CPDLC and ICAO Voice replace poor HF voice communications, removing significant weight from the aircraft and increasing safety by providing high quality communications fit for the digital age. 








AOC benefits



ACARS over SwiftBroadband (satcom) can be used to keep in constant communication with AOC (Airline Operations Centre) providing timely and important information to increase the efficiency of operations and vital aircraft health information. 



Additional Capacity



SwiftBroadband-Safety, the service that Cobham FANS 1/A compliant satcom systems use, provides enough additional capacity in the connection to gain operational advantage, such as connecting EFBs for real-time updates and receiving real-time graphical weather information. Other uses might include office in the sky for business jet passengers, medicare phone lines for crew use, or connecting payment terminals to lift credit restrictions for in air purchases.  




Black Box in the Cloud and more apps!



With SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) Inmarsat also offers services such as Black Box in the Cloud, rendering lost aircraft and destroyed black box data a thing of the past. By connecting the aircraft avionics, data can be sent via satcom for retrieval and interpretation on the ground, also leading to preventative and pro-active maintenance of aircraft systems through the use of big data. 


What equipment do I need?


 To be fully FANS 1/A compliant your aircraft requires...





Key dates



Mandates for FANS 1/A began in 2013 for the most efficient routes. Phase 2 of the North Atlantic datalink mandate began with Phase 2a in February 2015, at which time flights within the North Atlantic Tracks (NAT) between FL350 and FL390 are now required to be equipped with Fans 1/A controller-pilot datalink communications (CPDLC) and ADS-C systems. The program expanded to these altitudes in the entire ICAO NAT region on Dec. 7, 2017, and will continue to all flights in this region above FL290 on Jan. 30, 2020, a month sooner than the previous revised date. 



Date Mandate Details
February 2013 Phase 1 FANS 1/A in NATs FL360 - FL390 on no more than two specified tracks within the NAT OTS
5 February 2015 Phase 2A FL350 - FL390 within NAT OTS
7 December 2017 Phase 2B FL350 - FL390 in ICAO NAT region
30 January 2020 Phase 2C FL290 and above in ICAO NAT region


SwiftBroadband-Safety in action


 SwiftBroadband Safety (SB-S) with Cobham AVIATOR 300D/350D meets the requirements of FANS 1/A, providing a safe, reliable, RCP240 and RSP180 compliant data link solution. Cobham's AVIATOR products for the flight deck are tried and tested, and remain the only compatible product on the market.




FANS 1/A Satcom Solutions


One of the most important elements in you complying with this mandate is a highly reliable level D certified satellite communications system, that meets the Required Communications Performance 240 (RCP 240), Required Surveillance Performance (RSP 180) and the GOLD data link standards. Cobham is the only provider of SwiftBroadband-Safety compatible satellite communications, and our systems have been tried and tested as part of the evaluation and certification of the FANS 1/A approved Inmarsat network.








Cobham has a long legacy of providing satellite communications for aircraft, and our SwiftBroadband-Safety (SB-S) approved terminals are in use today with United, Shenzhen and Hawaiian Airlines. Why take the risk of choose anything else?



View FANS 1/A Compatible Systems

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