Airbus Makes History With First Gatelink Data Transfer

Posted on July 28, 2016 linda strong aviation news

Airbus, the aircraft manufacturing giant has made history with the first ever successful “Gate-link” secure wireless data transfer. An Airbus A350 MSN02 test flight aircraft was used to demonstrate the ability for the aircraft to transfer large amounts of operational data between the A350 and the ground via the Gate-link network. About one gigabyte of data was moved via Gate-link which uses the WLAN or Local Area Network (LAN) technology which can transmit data wirelessly with high-bandwidth protocols from various destinations throughout the airport straight to a docked aircraft.

This marks the first time in history that an A350 has used the Wi-Fi Gate-link at CDG airport and the demonstration/test was facilitated on the ground side at CDG through Hub One and a specialist working in IT services for workplace and airport environments. Hub One is a subsidiary of Aeroports de Paris (Group ADP). The data transferred included operational and maintenance documentation, flight-folders and condition-monitoring (ACMS) data.

Traditionally, the only way data such as this could be transferred is through a ground staff connecting a laptop to an aircraft via a physical cable connector but through Gate-link this data can now be shared between maintenance operations and ground support, between aircraft and passenger terminals plus many other domains. With airlines increasingly advocating for wireless data-link systems in order to down-link aircraft diagnostic and operational data while simultaneously up-link data to the aircraft's on-board computers, in-flight entertainment systems and electronic flight bags, Gate-link will be prevalent and in common-use in the next several years.

Early concepts aimed at accomplishing this ranged from infrared control heads at the aircraft end of the gate and corresponding window/sensors below the aircraft door to physical data plugs that the ramp crews had to insert manually into the aircraft. The term Gate-link was introduced in the mid-1990s and it referred to the higher-bandwidth air/ground communications. Today it is more relevant to ground/ground use and can be used for various applications such as  permitting communications between ground facilities and either the cockpit or the cabin or both. Low-cost carrier Jet-blue Airways was the first to implement WADL which was first developed by Live-TV.

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