Analysis and Definition of the Satellite System Operations Project Team Hermes

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The study interfaces with the Iris Phase B Design study (ANTARES) and has the following objectives:

  1. Ensuring the suitability of the ANTARES design for operations.
  2. Producing a PPP proposal for Phase 2.2 of the Iris Programme to support the deployment of the subset of the satellite system infrastructure required for validation activities between mid 2014 and end 2015.
  3. Determining the prerequisites for a PPP for operational service from 2020 onwards (including probably the deployment phase of 2016 to 2020) by analysing the business issues within the technical, operational, regulatory, and institutional environment.
  4. Determining a certification/validation/verification/regulatory roadmap between now and start of service in 2020, and then determining the split of these between the Iris programme (up to Phase 2.2) and post Iris Phase 2.2. The roadmap will be used to determine the scope of the Iris programme Phase 2.2 including its infrastructure and test means (the Iris subset).

In particular the study is an enabler to maximise the probability of a PPP being negotiated on acceptable terms to both ESA (and other European institutional entities) and the private party whilst satisfying other stakeholder needs (particularly airlines, and ANSPs).


Key issues to be dealt with in this study include:

  1. The study deals with a large infrastructure project planned for operation in the 2020 timeframe hence the requirements and institutional framework are fluid. In order to address this the Hermes study team will apply its extensive knowledge of the way the ATM industry works to identify at an early stage the key constraining parameters in the overall system design.
  2. The expressed requirements may be over-constraining and may drive costs in the business case to an unsustainable level. In response the consortium will conduct a detailed review of the requirements and identify at an early stage those that may prove to be most constraining, and suggest trade-offs for evaluation.
  3. The role of satcom in future ATM requires consideration by a number of external entities, and is likely to evolve over time. The Hermes study team will examine a broad range of financial scenario parameters, by building risk into all cost elements before assessing the total cost for each of the entities in the value chain.

The project will be undertaken co-operatively by Inmarsat, ARINC, AENA and Helios to specifically take advantage of each company’s diverse strengths. Inmarsat considers that the advantages offered by this industrial team are essential to the success of the study.

The key strengths of the companies and staff in the team include:

  • Unrivalled experience at corporate and study staff level in the domain of aeronautical safety and operational services;
  • A team based on a broad cross section of the ATM industry from suppliers to service provision with expert knowledge of satcom, SES, SESAR and emerging regulatory and institutional issues;
  • In-depth understanding of financing and risk requirements for the set-up and operation of world-wide satellite communication systems;
  • Willingness to challenge the status quo: a recognition of the potential need of new service provision models;
  • Primed by the leading aeronautical satellite service provider who has led the industry continuously since it introduced aeronautical satcom safety service in 1995.

WP1 Define Roles and Responsibilities in Service Provision
WP1 starts with a definition of the service model for the Iris system. The model evaluates various options for service provision both on a pan-European and FAB level. The service model serves as input to the certification model and the revenue model parts of this study.

A timeline for the development, deployment and operational life is presented aligned with the European ATM Master Plan and taking into account the activities required for the acceptance and use of the system by the aviation community such as verification, validation, standardisation and certification. The proposed timeline identifies the main milestones where inputs from external entities are required, decision points related to financing and regulatory aspects, and stakeholders participating in the different phases of the programme are also identified and their responsibilities described.

WP1 defines the responsibilities in ATS and AOC provision and limitation of liabilities in design, procurement and use. This introduces the regulatory framework from EASA, EC and NSAs, and sets the basis for a coherent model in terms of responsibilities and liabilities.

WP2 Engineering requirements analysis: Satellite Operations impact on the System Design
The overall objective of the task is to ensure the system design is optimal from an operations view point from both a technical and cost perspective. The performance delivered by a system is the sum of its technical performance and how it is operated. In turn the operations is the sum of the operations organisation and the monitoring and control capability of the system together with additional analysis tools. The operating requirements are analysed from a maintainability, availability, security and interoperability perspective.

From a technical perspective, the key requirement for Iris is availability and hence this is studied in depth. From an operations perspective this will include the monitoring and fault finding capabilities needed to demonstrate that the SLAs are met. This in turn results in defining additional ‘test points’ needed in the system (possibly affecting the air interface design) as well as monitoring tools (both on line and off line). The system operation is defined in task 2.3 and then costed in task 2.6. Task 2.5 assesses a number of different architectural options, and proposes an operations approach for each.

WP3 Regulatory Activities for "Iris Subset"
WP3.1 defines a comprehensive approach for the Service Certification process of the future Satellite Communication Service as a component of the European ATM System. A detailed assessment is made of the regulations applicable to the deployment and later operations of the Iris system and description provided regulatory activities (including tasks, schedule and estimated costs) which would have to be undertaken by the different participants involved in the Iris Project until the system is declared operational in 2020.

WP3.2 describes the Iris system verification and validation approach and considers the Single European Sky requirements. An overview of the applicable context is provided, including the regulatory aspects that could potentially derive into system verification and validation requirements. Amongst them, the most relevant is the request of the SES regulation that the manufacturer has to issue a declaration of conformity or suitability for use. With the context clearly analysed together with the review of similar cases, such as EGNOS, LINK2000 and Galileo, an approach is proposed for the Iris system verification and validation and a proposal of system V&V requirements is made. These requirements are accompanied with a high-level overview of the operations procedures.

WP3.3 defines an approach for the service validation by the satellite operator and service provider following handover from ESA and defines a plan for the validation activities for the new satellite communication service with roles, responsibilities of actors involved (e.g. SSP, CSPs, airlines, ANSPs, EASA, NSAs), duration and estimate costs.

WP3.4 takes into account the current state of uncertainty of the regulatory process applicable for provision of the pan-European satellite communication system service, and identifies potential regulatory issues that might be originated from it. In addition, WP3.4 proposes a set of mitigation actions to reduce and/or minimise the potential risks derived from the aforementioned regulatory issues.

WP4 Financial Analysis: Business Case
The WP4 tasks are being developed as input to the pre-requisites for private investment to be submitted in WP5. The business case has been updated to reflect new costs from ESA and to simplify the range of options considered in Phase 1 to a limited sub-set for Phase 2. The underlying model has been updated to support the sensitivity analysis. A new revenue model is being used that estimates a fixed annual fee for ATC services and a fee per IFR flight for ATC services.


Features Continued:

Within WP4 an Overall Risk Analysis assesses the risks in the programme to identify mitigations, insurance costs and inputs to the sensitivity analysis. Insurance costs have been estimated using input from Inmarsat’s space segment insurance broker. A Sensitivity Analysis looks at the robustness of the business case to changes in assumptions relating to costs, delays, revenues, financial parameters.

WP5 Strategic
The Strategic WP5 sets out the pre-requisites and conditions under which the “consortia” would invest in both the sub-set and the final system. Three options for PPP have been defined. These will be further refined and down selected to the preferred option on the basis of the risk assessment and sensitivity analysis. The options being used are:

  • Option 1: Private Venture: Build/Own/Operate – commercial loans,
  • Option 2: PPP: Build/Lease/Operate – combination of funding; Public sector maintains equity stake/able to take on risk,
  • Option 3: Concession: Private sector operates Publicly owned infrastructure.


Project Plan

The various tasks ultimately contribute to determining the top level objective of defining the PPP Prerequisites.

The Roles and Responsibilities is a key input to defining the Service Model. The Timeline and the Service Model then allow the Revenue Model to be determined.

The required Iris subset is the infrastructure and means needed (as delivered by the Iris programme) to validate the service so that the service provider can be certified and the overall in service date of 2020 can be achieved. Consequently the Iris subset is a trade-off between cost (particularly the phasing of funding from various sources) and risk. The programme Timeline and the Certification, Validation and Verification needs for infrastructure/means are the key inputs to determining the required Iris Subset.

The Operations tasks feedback comments on the ANTARES system design study, as well as determine Operational Costs and Capital Costs. Operation needs may determine more (or less) infrastructure which will impact Capital Costs.

The Business Case is fundamentally based on the Costs (Capital and Operational including phasing) and the Revenues. The Risk Analysis will identify those items that can adversely (positive or negative) impact the Business Case and the Sensitivity Analysis will then determine their potential impact on the Business Case. The Prerequisites for Private Investment will identify (based mainly on Business Case, Sensitivity and Risk Analysis) key issues that need to be resolved before an Operator Agreement could be signed.

The project is developed in two phases, whereby there is a first pass of the majority of WPs in Phase 1; these are then updated in Phase 2, once the system baseline has been selected during ANTARES System Requirements Review. The strategic analysis that “brings it all together” is done in Phase 2 only.

Current status

The project was completed in July 2012 and documentation is available from ESA upon request.

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