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BOEING 747 PILOTS CAN PHONE TO THE GROUND

 SEATTLE, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released by Boeing Commercial Airplane Group:
 You're piloting a giant 747-400 over the Pacific Ocean, somewhere between Anchorage and Tokyo. You can tell there's weather ahead: you aren't going to like it, your passengers aren't going to like it, and your airplane isn't going to like it.
 It will be a bumpy ride, and strong headwinds will cost you a lot in fuel. But to get permission via high-frequency radio to change your course may take half an hour. Wouldn't it be nice to have an air-to- ground phone so you could just "reach out and touch" air traffic control?
 Today, the Boeing Commercial Airplane Group will deliver the first airplane type certificated with "cockpit voice capability" -- a long- range 747-400 for Malaysian Airline Systems.
 "This capability can provide more timely, reliable and private pilot- to-ground communication," said Peter Lemme, Boeing supervisor of satellite communications for 747s, 767s and 777s.
 Lemme predicts that in the future, computers on the airplane will be connected with air-traffic control computers using satellite data communications. Boeing delivered the first airplane with satellite data communications in September 1990.
 Since then more than 100 of the 747s and 767s have become operational, but at this time the use of that technology has been limited to airline company communications only. The flight crews have had to use only high-frequency (HF) radio to communicate with air traffic control.
 "Now, we can supplement HF with satellite voice communications, which allows the ability to request and receive clearance in a more timely manner, especially in remote areas, such as the middle of the ocean," Lemme said. "Altitude or direction changes may be requested and granted more quickly, so airlines can better optimize their flights. And private communication is possible with airline dispatch offices to discuss maintenance or passenger issues."
 The new capability uses the satellite communications service offered by INMARSAT, a United Nations-sanctioned international organization. Its 14 ground stations operate between 86 degrees North and 86 degrees South latitude by relaying signals off four satellites in geosynchronous orbit.
 The INMARSAT satellite constellation originally was conceived as a ship-to-shore communications system. Now Boeing 747s, 767s and 777s can make use of it.
 "This is another in a long series of aviation milestones for efficient and safe flight-deck operations," said Richard Peal, director of Systems Engineering. "Boeing has been providing leadership industry- wide in the pilot-to-ground area for a number of years, and it's coming to fruition in this application." Lemme, whose group is concerned with airborne systems that acquire, print and record data, and exchange it with ground computer systems, noted that while Boeing did not "invent" satellite communications, the Malaysian 747 delivery marks an "achievable system, one that is practical, viable and provides value to the flight crew."
 The technology began to come together in the mid-1980s, he noted. Essentially only two pacing items held it up to that point: cost- effective antennas and avionics technology.
 The availability of phased-array antennas that use electronics to form a beam, and that hug the airplane's fuselage to eliminate drag, solved one problem. The second issue was met with a set of avionics that include a computer, a radio frequency converter, an amplifier to boost the signal off the airplane, and a conditioner that allows one antenna to be used for both transmission and reception.
 In July 1992, Boeing initiated a working group to explore satellite voice technology in depth, to research and establish system requirements, and to lay plans for the future application of satellite voice communication for commercial aviation. "The whole phone-in-the- cockpit issue is one of phone quality versus shortwave radio quality," Lemme said. "Why have this tremendous capability available for airplanes and not use it?"
 Today, Boeing engineers and their industry counterparts are implementing multi-channel satellite communication systems on the flight deck and in passenger cabins that handle voice and data. In the near future, Lemme said, "expect to fax documents to your office from wherever you are in the air."
 -0- 10/5/93
 /CONTACT: Jack Gamble of Boeing Commercial, 206-237-1715/
 (BA)


CO: Boeing Commercial Airplane Group ST: Washington IN: AIR SU:

RB -- SE001 -- 8844 10/05/93 12:02 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 5, 1993
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