easyJet eyes optimised flight routes as launch partner for Iris system

posted on 22nd June 2022 by Olivia Pilling
easyJet eyes optimised flight routes as launch partner for Iris system

From left to right; Ghislain Nicolle of Inmarsat, Antonio Garutti of ESA, Hugues de Beco of Airbus and Hugh McConnellogue of easyJet, source ©easyJet. 

easyJet announced it will be the first airline partner for Iris, a data sharing system which uses satellites to connect pilots digitally to air traffic controllers, so that flight routes can be optimized. easyJet will fit the Iris system to up to 11 newly delivered Airbus A320neo aircraft, to begin its evaluation on commercial flights from November 2022.

The Iris programme is led by Inmarsat, the world leader in global, mobile satellite communications, in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Airbus. It provides highly secure, high-bandwidth links between pilots and air traffic controllers, meaning more effiencent communication to better manage air traffic, optimize routes and save fuel.

The first flight trials for Iris took place in 2018, source.

Hugh McConnellogue the director of Airport Operations & Navigation at easyJet said, “Iris is paving the way for more efficient air traffic management, which is a crucial step forward for the aviation industry. The Iris programme brings multiple benefits, from helping us to achieve our environmental goals by further reducing our carbon emissions from flying, to providing a better experience for our passengers. We’re excited to be leading in this space, setting the standard for the aviation industry and hope to see more airlines follow suit.”

Philippe Carette, president of Inmarsat Aviation, said, “Having easyJet onboard as our first Iris partner is excellent news, not least because of its pioneering commitment to innovation and reducing the aviation industry’s environmental impact. With Iris we are kickstarting a new era that will help make aviation greener, and the more airlines that step forward to evaluate Iris’ capabilities, the sooner this will become reality.”

The director of Telecommunications and Integrated Applications at ESA Elodie Viau, said: “This innovation has been an enormous undertaking by ESA, Inmarsat and more than 30 other companies within the space and aviation industry, so to see it finally ‘take to the skies’ in a live operational environment is very exciting. European airspace is crying out for a solution to its capacity issues, and advanced satellite technology is the only way to set the industry up for a better – and greener – future.”

easyJet has recently announced its interim science-based carbon reduction target, a 35% carbon emissions intensity improvement by FY2035 on a FY2020 baseline, as part of the airline’s Race to Zero commitment to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Technology like Iris could play an important role with short term sources of carbon reductions. Iris helps the airline to continue to operate its aircraft as efficiently as possible, such as adjusting single-engine taxiing on arrival and departure or using advanced weather information and flight efficiency partnerships with key stakeholders such as Airbus, Collins Aerospace, NATS and Eurocontrol.