Aireon Global Air Traffic Surveillance Planned for 2018

 - June 19, 2012, 4:10 PM

A planned joint venture by Iridium Communications and Nav Canada promises to offer worldwide ADS-B-based air traffic surveillance services using the upcoming Iridium Next satellite network. Announced this morning, the joint-venture company, called Aireon, will add 1090ES ADS-B receivers made by Harris to each of the 66 satellites (and backups) destined to form the Iridium Next constellation, which begins launching in 2015 and will be completed in 2017.

The low-earth orbiting Iridium satellites will offer worldwide coverage, including polar regions, and with the ADS-B payloads “will provide complete visibility to all aircraft everywhere,” according to Iridium, “helping ANSPs [air navigation service providers] decrease inefficiencies. This new capability will extend the benefits of current radar-based surveillance systems, which cover less than 10 percent of the world, to the entire planet.”

Benefits of Aireon include fuel and emissions savings from optimal routing, more closely spaced traffic and extended operational safety provided by the ability to track ADS-B/Iridium-equipped aircraft anywhere in the world. “ANSPs will be able to introduce active ATC to wherever airlines fly,” said Nav Canada president and CEO John Crichton. Aireon is expected to become operational in 2018, two years before the FAA’s ADS-B Out equipage mandate takes effect.