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The global Aviation industry understands that it needs to upgrade its airport surface communications systems. With over 100 slot-limited airports in the US and Western Europe alone and the current system pushed to its limits, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and EUROCONTROL/SESAR Joint Undertaking (SJU) have identified the Aeronautical Mobile Airport Communications System (AeroMACS) to support this ever growing need for increased data communications and information sharing on the airport surface. AeroMACS will help to achieve the necessary efficiency gains by providing increased transmission of Air Traffic Control (ATC) and Airline Operations Communications (AOC) on the airport surface.

AeroMACS is a broadband wireless communications system that can support the transmission of safety and regularity of flight data for both fixed and mobile applications on the airport surface. It is based on the mature WiMAX standard (IEEE 802.16e) and operates in the protected aviation spectrum band from 5091 MHz to 5150 MHz. The AeroMACS Minimum Operational Performance Standards (MOPS) and the AeroMACS Profile document have been jointly developed and approved by RTCA and EUROCAE. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has approved the AeroMACS Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS), which will help guarantee manufacturer interoperability and Global harmonization through certified equipment. The ARINC AEEC has unanimously approved the initiation of the AeroMACS Standards that will enable the system to be installed in Commercial type aircraft. The initial applications will likely be used to support the existing Electronic Flight Bags (EFB) in the cockpits.

Following the technology recommendations of EUROCONTROL and the FAA, the WiMAX Forum instituted the Aviation Working Group (AWG) within its organizational structure to collaborate on AeroMACS. The AWG acts as a focal point for Worldwide Aviation Industry interests in AeroMACS technology for Aviation Applications on a global basis by defining requirements and technology profiles that drive the network, air interface specifications, certification, and products to ensure the development of a healthy ecosystem of interoperable, Aviation-centric product solutions. Commercial WiMAX vendors with AeroMACS equipment available now include Gemtek, Hitachi, Selex, Siemens, Telrad, and Thales. The WiMAX Forum has also been partnering with the following aviation industry and regulatory organizations to establish study groups to help advance the development, standardization, and testing of AeroMACS.

•  AAAE •  ASRI •  FAA
•  AEEC - (Including SAI) •  DFS •  JCAB
•  AFC •  ENRI •  RTCA
•  Airlines for America •  EUROCAE •  SITA

Major strengths of AeroMACS are its flexibility, reliability, and scalability. It presents a significantly lower cost and less disruptive alternative to the current cable loop technology being used and has the capacity to support a wide range of air traffic applications providing connectivity for fixed and mobile assets across the airport area. Hundreds of potential applications have been identified to support the following operational domains:

  • Air Traffic Control (ATC) / Air Traffic Management (ATM) applications
  • Airline operations applications such as AOC
  • Airport infrastructure applications
AeroMACS - WiMAX Forum Certified   The WiMAX Forum now offers AeroMACS certification at the AeroMACS Designated Certification Laboratory (ADCL) based on the requirements defined in aviation industry standards. AeroMACS – WiMAX Forum Certified, WiGRID, and WiMAX Forum Certified products attest to their conformance to IEEE Std 802.16, ensuring interoperability worldwide. Certified products that have been through the certification program will reduce investment uncertainties for all parties in the access network value chain, from technology providers to service providers to end users. To learn more about certification, please visit: WiMAX Forum Certification.

Since 2007, an AeroMACS Trial has been underway at the NASA Glenn Research Center Testbed located on the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport to enable the standard validation. In 2015, more than 20 airports worldwide are in the process of, or have completed testing AeroMACS, including Boston Logan Airport, Chengdu Airport, Dallas Fort Worth Airport, Daytona Airport, Melbourne Airport, Milan Malpensa Airport, Oberpfaffenhofen Airport, San Francisco Airport, Sendai Airport, Syracuse Airport, Toulouse Airport, and Otis Air Force Base.

The WiMAX Forum is committed to helping the global aviation industry upgrade its airport surface communications systems with powerful and economical solutions, and participation in the WiMAX Forum AWG is open to all WiMAX Forum member companies. If your company is not a member, email us to learn more about how you can participate: You can also learn more about joining the WiMAX Forum today!

To learn more about AeroMACS, please click on the following:

  1. AeroMACS + NASA-CLE CNS Test Bed Brochure: informational WiMAX Forum brochure on AeroMACS: Future Communications Research via the NASA-CLE CNS Test Bed.
  2. AeroMACS: A Common Platform for Air Traffic Management Applications: a white paper written by Monica Paolini, Senza Fili Consulting, that identifies a set of applications that are necessary to air traffic management and that AeroMACS can support in terms of performance and cost efficiency. Some of these applications are fully or partially supported in today’s networks, others are not yet deployed because existing networks cannot support them.
  3. AeroMACS Bandplan for the User Community: a presentation that WiMAX Forum Declan Byrne gave at the ICNS Conference in 2015 about the protected aviation spectrum band.
  4. AeroMACS Could Emerge as an Enterprise Solution for the FAA: Avionics Magazine Article written by Juliet Van Wagenen.
  5. AeroMACS: Delivering Next Generation Communications to the Airport Surface: a white paper that provides further details on how AeroMACS can meet the short- and long-term demands for improved airport surface communications and what it would take to facilitate a typical AeroMACS deployment in airports.
  6. AeroMACS on the Horizon to Modernize Surface, Communications Operations: Avionics Magazine Article written by Juliet Van Wagenen.
  7. Enabling the Next Generation in Air Traffic Management with AeroMACS: a white paper written by Monica Paolini, Senza Fili Consulting, that presents an overview of AeroMACS: the technology, the standardization efforts that define it, the applications and business model that it will enable, and the ecosystem that will provide the foundation for its success.
  8. Improving the Safety, Capacity, and Efficiency of Airport Traffic Management with AeroMACS: a journal article published in the Journal of Airport Management, which was written by Declan Byrne, WiMAX Forum President, and Aloke Roy, Honeywell Senior Program Manager.
  9. NASA, FAA Demonstrate Wireless Communication with Aircraft: A NASA press release on how for the first time ever, a team of engineers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center conveyed aviation data—including route options and weather information—to an airplane over a wireless communication system for aircraft on the ground.
  10. WiMAX Forum Interview with bnetTV at IoT World 2014 on AeroMACS: delivered by WiMAX Forum President Declan Byrne in an interview at IoT World 2014 on AeroMACS.