Datalink Centralised Service

Written by: Matt Shreeve
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Is there a business model?

EUROCONTROL is proposing a set of pan-European Centralised Services (CS) that avoids the current fragmented ANSP-by-ANSP approach in order to provide more harmonised and cost-efficient services. One of the CS proposed is the centralisation of air-ground datalink infrastructure services (known as CS9-1). EUROCONTROL commissioned Helios to undertake a feasibility study to address questions on technical architecture, business models, governance, regulation, certification, safety and security. Helios led an industry consortium comprising SITA, Inmarsat, Airbus and Austro Control.

We first identified a centralised routing architecture that is capable of supporting ATN datalink applications over VDL2, SATCOM and future standardised technologies, such as AeroMACS, as they become available. Following the technical analysis, it became apparent that the success of CS9-1 relies not only on technical feasibility but more importantly on operational and business acceptability, and specifically governance, ownership and control of the datalink service infrastructure and associated assets.

As a Centralised Service it would be free of charge at the point of use and mandatory for all EUROCONTROL members. To deliver the desired benefits it needs a sufficient level of centralised control, but to be acceptable to stakeholders it needs to avoid unnecessary asset transfers and provide users with sufficient say in the service. Helios defined three options for CS9-1 which progressively increase the level of centralisation.

Helios and EUROCONTROL explored and discussed the relative strengths and weaknesses of each approach. Since no option provided maximum benefits at minimal risk, we identified trade-offs, focusing mostly on the ambition and goals of stakeholders. The resulting insights will now be taken into EUROCONTROL's next round of consultation and decisionmaking on CS9-1 and help inform the wider debate on the centralised service business model.

For further information contact Matt Shreeve.

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