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Aireon Plans Global Emergency Tracking Service for Aircraft

September 22, 2014  - By
Image: GPS World

Aireon LLC, developer of a space-based ADS-B global air traffic surveillance system, is planning the Aireon Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response Tracking (Aireon ALERT) service, a global emergency tracking service that will be provided free of charge to the aviation community beginning in 2017. The Aireon ALERT service will allow rescue agencies to request the location and last flight track of any 1090-MHz ADS-B equipped aircraft flying in airspace currently without surveillance.

“A comprehensive, global aircraft tracking solution is essential in emergency situations, as evidenced by MH370 earlier this year and Air France 447 in 2009,” said Don Thoma, president and CEO, Aireon. “Aireon is being deployed to improve the efficiency and safety of aircraft operations in oceanic and unsurveilled airspace. The same technology behind these efficiency and safety gains can also make a significant difference in providing quick, accurate information in emergency situations. With one global view of ADS-B equipped aircraft, Aireon ALERT will provide accurate and real-time tracking data immediately to authorized search-and-rescue operations, without requiring airlines to equip aircraft with new avionics or the ANSPs and authorities to deploy new systems.”

Aireon is deploying a global space-based ADS-B surveillance capability providing direct air traffic controller visibility of flights operating in oceanic or remote airspace, focused on improving the efficiency and safety of aircraft operations. When Aireon is fully operational, anticipated for 2017, it will create a powerful platform capable of tracking ADS-B equipped aircraft around the globe in real time.

The Aireon ALERT service will be available soon after Aireon’s full deployment and will be provided through a 24/7 application and emergency call center. Historical track data will be available to pre-authorized users, including ANSPs, airlines, and search-and-rescue authorities, through Aireon ALERT soon after controller communications are lost with an aircraft. The system can also provide real-time tracking of aircraft in distress, provided ADS-B transmissions are still operational.

“Tracking of aircraft in emergency and search-and-rescue situations is a complex issue,” said Cyriel Kronenburg, vice president sales and marketing for Aireon. “We plan to engage the various aviation stakeholders including the airlines, ANSPs, regulators, and search-and-rescue organizations over the next 12 months to define the technical, operational, and legal details of providing this data in emergency situations.”

“We anticipate support from the world’s airlines for the approach taken by Aireon for emergency tracking,” said John Crichton, president and CEO of NAV CANADA. “Airlines already stand to gain over $125 million per year in fuel savings in the North Atlantic alone by using Aireon’s space-based surveillance service. The Aireon ALERT public service offers an additional benefit, free of charge, ensuring that ADS-B equipped aircraft can be tracked anywhere in the world, even in airspace managed by ANSPs that have not subscribed to the Aireon service.”

Aireon is a joint venture among Iridium Communications Inc., NAV CANADA, ENAV, IAA, and Naviair, established to launch the Aireon system by hosting ADS-B receiver payloads on Iridium NEXT, Iridium’s second-generation satellite constellation, scheduled for first launch in 2015. This new capability will extend air traffic surveillance to the entire planet and increase the safety and efficiency of air travel over oceanic and remote regions.