Successful fifth launch brings Aireon global air traffic surveillance system closer to full deployment
(30 March 2018 - Aireon) Aireon announced today the fifth successful launch and deployment of its space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) payloads, hosted by the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation.
At 7:13AM PDT (14:13 UTC), a flight-proven SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, bringing the total number of Aireon payloads in orbit to 50.
When the Aireon payloads from the fifth launch come online, the system will have nearly global coverage with 15-minute or better update intervals. This signifies optimal timing for airlines to begin testing the capabilities of space-based ADS-B. This will assist airlines with meeting the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations that require aircraft be equipped with an aircraft tracking system for those flights not tracked by air traffic control by the end of 2018. With the Aireon service and access to the space-based ADS-B data, airlines can meet this directive set by regulators and safety organizations.
“We’re over two-thirds of the way there,” said Don Thoma, CEO, Aireon. “And as we get closer to a fully operational system, thorough testing and validation is now underway with our customers and partners.” Thoma continued, “Aireon is working closely with not only ANSPs, but partners like FlightAware to ensure airlines have early access to this global data, ahead of regulations and requirements. Aireon will be able to help airlines meet these mandates, and upon completion of the constellation, update rates of a few seconds will be the service standard around the world.”
FlightAware and Aireon have worked together to create GlobalBeacon, a first-of-its-kind product. GlobalBeacon combines FlightAware’s data processing platform and web-interface with Aireon’s space-based ADS-B data, for a cost-effective, easy to deploy solution to help meet the ICAO Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS) standards.
“We are fusing Aireon data with FlightAware data to empower airlines and other aircraft operators with products that exceed GADSS recommendations for flight tracking,” said Daniel Baker, founder and CEO, FlightAware. “With the satellites from today’s successful launch, customers will be able to beta test coverage that meets the November 2018 requirement for aircraft tracking.”
In addition to GlobalBeacon, FlightAware is delivering the data through services that are already commonly used by airlines and industry leading service providers such as SITAONAIR.
“Our partnership with FlightAware means that any airline using AIRCOM FlightTracker will have at its fingertips a dynamic tool providing an overview of the exact position, speed and altitude of its airborne fleet,” said Dominique El Bez, Vice President, Product and Strategy, SITAONAIR. “Most critically, the coverage will now be 100% even over oceanic, remote and polar areas. By receiving once-per-minute positions from Aireon’s network of space-based ADS-B receivers, airlines will exceed the ICAO GADSS upcoming 15-minute recommendation.”
The Aireon system is hosted on the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, which will consist of 66 low-earth orbit crosslinked satellites. A total of 81 Iridium NEXT satellites are being built, all of which will have the Aireon payload onboard. Currently, 75 satellites are planned to be deployed with nine serving as on-orbit spares and the remaining six as ground spares. The constellation is planned for completion in 2018.