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What Does AMHS Bring To The Aviation Communication Industry?

by | May 23, 2024 | ATC Systems

Air Traffic Services Message Handling Services (AMHS) play a central role in managing ground-to-ground communications and data transfers within the modern aviation industry. The new AMHS message format is slowly being introduced to airports worldwide to replace the older Aeronautical Fixed Telecommunication Network (AFTN), which has been in place since the 1950s and is still widely used in some regions.

The Global Transition From AFTN To AMHS

The AMHS message format is a contemporary Internet protocol and set of messaging standards first initiated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation in 2002. However, the migration from AFTN to AMHS didn’t begin in earnest until the early 2010s, when aviation authorities began to recognise the latter’s enhanced capabilities in data exchange, security, and interoperability. By the mid-2010s the transition had gained significant momentum in major airports, with AMHS used to improve communication efficiency and support multimedia messaging, as well as aligning ATS systems with more modern technological advancements.

Despite this, while some regions have fully transitioned to AMHS, other countries and authorities are still in various stages of migration, with many regions still using AFTN in part or in full.

AMHS Vs AFTN Message Format

AFTN and AMHS are distinct communication systems with several key differences in terms of technology and infrastructure, security, reliability, and message format. 

  • Message Format/Data: AFTN messages are predominantly text-based and limited in terms of multimedia content and data attachments. For modern airports, AMHS gives the advantage of supporting a wider range of message formats, including structured data and various encoding/encryption options for secure communications.
  • Technology: Designed in the 1950s, AFTN systems are strictly telecoms based, and are usually based on Telex technology. AMHS systems bring ATS communications into the digital age and are built around Internet-based technologies to facilitate secure and more efficient data transactions among aviation stakeholders.
  • Security: With data security becoming a growing concern in commercial aviation, the robust security mechanisms inherent in the AMHS system, such as digital signatures and encryption, help safeguard data transmissions and protect sensitive messages from prying eyes.
  • Integration And Interoperability: AMHS also has fewer interoperability issues than AFTN systems. While AFTN systems can only really be integrated with other systems that use similar telecoms protocols, an AMHS system can increase interoperability by standardising messaging formats and protocols, facilitating easier integration with diverse communication systems and improving global connectivity.
  • Scalability: With the global aviation industry expanding at a rapid rate, the rigid structure of AFTN systems present challenges to airports looking to scale their communication systems to accommodate increased message traffic. AMHS offers a distinct advantage by being inherently adaptable and scalable, giving ATS teams greater flexibility to accommodate changing communication requirements, support future technologies, and expand their network capacity as demand grows.

Find Out More

Switching to the newer AMHS system, such as our AMHSConnect, can enhance functionality and facilitate the exchange of larger volumes of data in a universally compatible format, helping you upgrade your airport systems without impacting communication with other airports and stakeholders.

To find out more, please contact one of our experienced team today by clicking here.

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