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Commercial radio and satellite in-flight connectivity: in-flight safety in the air, on the ground

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VARAS, Utah (Industry Orientated) (Powers Forward Staff) May 25, 2011 — Last week’s first phase of the Commercial Radio Communications Evaluation and Implementation EPRIC (“Coherent Fuels Economy Platform Indicator”) tests confirmed commercial radio and satellite technologies as suitable for in-flight use. Follow-on tests are scheduled to begin in June, and a second phase of evaluations and implementation reviews is planned for this summer. These evaluation phase results will inform the development of standards and principles for early FAA certification, and approval of vehicle interfaces and testing requirements. Proposals to provide hardware and software will be evaluated by the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Hawaii.

This first phase of the program included the evaluation of three low-band satellite systems, as well as C-Band and Ku-Band satellite systems which will enable the FAA to perform stringent on-board connectivity for passenger aircraft. Proponents have begun developing new wireless solutions to efficiently test the co-existence and compatibility of various service providers for in-flight connectivity. Aggregate conditions are currently being evaluated and tested by participating FAA and civil aviation authorities in the US and abroad.

The rationale behind the FAA Evaluation phase of the program, and the threat of airline and private aircraft collisions is known. In March of this year, after years of careful review and debate, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued the Electronic Communication Infrastructure (ECI) Report, the initial elements of which spelled out the barriers to ensuring that commercial air transportation meets the safety objectives required by the Federal Aviation Act of 1966.

Yesterday, Procomm, an industry consortium of airplane manufacturers, and the Electronics Frontier Foundation released an updated Public Information Statement based on their evaluation phase work. The release included four newly-obtained safety information pages (Emails.) This updated documents provides factual information about the airspace being used for testing of commercial in-flight connectivity. These information pages include static flight recorders, real-time data from onboard systems and other alerts that indicate possible interference between the electronic systems and the electronics located on the ground. Please note that these information pages are only used for factual analysis and should not be construed as endorsements.

Please contact Alex Thomas @ 1121-678-3977 for more information about the mission of this program and for schedules on the tracking system, responses to your questions and plans for release of the most current information on the project.

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