SITA has awarded Harris a seven-year contract to supply equipment to deploy an FAA-approved aircraft ground station network to enable air-to-ground digital data communications in the US.
Harris is the systems integrator for one of the key US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) NextGen programmes.
The latest deal is part of the $150m Data Communications Network Services (DCNS) element of Harris' Data Communications Integrated Services (DCIS) Program.
As one of the primary components of the FAA's NextGen system, the aircraft digital data communication will increase efficiency and safety.
In Europe, when all aircraft are fully equipped, it is estimated that the addition of data link usage for air traffic control (ATC) will raise capacity by 11%.
Harris Government Communications Systems Civil Programs vice president John O'Sullivan said: "Teaming with SITA allows us to provide a VHF data link network providing service to the FAA, enabling the movement away from voice communications for air traffic control to digital data connectivity."
Since 1999, SITA has offered the FAA oceanic centres access to aircraft avionics called Future Air Navigation Systems (FANS-1/A).
This network from SITA and Harris enables all the ATC centre systems of FAA to communicate with FANS 1/A equipped aircraft. These avionics use the airline industry standard ACARS data link system.
Harris will install an ACARS message processor with the help of SITA software for secure processing of all the FAA messages and sending the airline communications through SITA.
SITA Aircraft Services vice president Philip Clinch said that SITA uses Harris VDL stations to provide data link networks to the European Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) complying with the Single European Sky mandate.
"We responded to the FAA selection of Harris to provide their NextGen VHF data link service by providing Harris the means to deliver this required service, while also guaranteeing FAA-compliant service to the many airlines that use SITA AIRCOM in the USA," Clinch added.
Image: The Datalink Control and Display Unit on an Airbus A330. Photo: courtesy of SempreVolando.