The aeronautical communication systems in use today have become somewhat old-fashioned. They still use 25 kHz analog, open channel, speech transmissions, with spoken handover commands, and a manual tuning of the synthesizer! Recently the channel spacing has been reduced to 8.33 kHz in order to maintain operability until 2013.
The gap to modern communication systems is huge, even within the airplane. The cockpit stays equipped with 50 years old technology, while the upgrading of the cabin with most advanced communication systems, as developed in the Institute-led Wireless Cabin project, is imminent.
The Air Traffic Management (ATM) community is alerted, especially in view of the lengthy approval and certification procedures. This led to the establishment of a joint board between the Federal Aeronautical Administration (FAA) and Eurocontrol. The Institute is representing Germany/DFS on this board. Its proposal for the replacement of the current air-interface is one of three candidates considered.
Today the Institute is amongst the leading research centers for aeronautical communications and takes an active role in three areas: