Learn more about Aireon from the Aireon team themselves. This series, “A Day in The Life,” will allow the Aireon team to speak first-hand about their experiences, views, and future outlook on space-based ADS-B. Aireon is proud of our extraordinary team of experts and aim to highlight them in this blog series. We hope you enjoy meeting the Aireon team and further understand our strong commitment to aviation.
My name is Sinéad McCloskey, and I have recently joined Aireon as the Safety Manager. As my name suggests, I hail originally from Ireland but have spent many years working away from home; this is just the next chapter in the voyage. I’ve been working in the aviation industry for over 28 years, having started out as an Air Traffic Controller with the UK CAA and then National Air Traffic Services (NATS). I hold air traffic control qualifications mainly in the airport domain, and I also hold a Masters’ degree in Aviation Safety. I have controlled at airports in the UK and in Dubai, and spent some time as an Air Traffic Services Inspector for the UK Civil Aviation Authority Safety Regulation Group. I’ve spent the last nine years in Dubai in various safety management and compliance roles responsible for both Dubai World Central (AL Maktoum) and Dubai International Airports but decided last year that it was time for a new challenge.
I started to look around for opportunities but honestly had never even considered relocating to the USA before until the position with Aireon came up. The opportunity to work with this visionary company, to be part of a developing technology in what I consider to be the biggest advancement in ATC surveillance for many years, was for me in many ways too good to be true, and I am really excited to be involved.
Space-based ADS-B has the potential to provide a complete global picture to controllers, regardless of physical obstacles like high terrain and vast areas of ocean, and is ground-breaking in the true sense of the word. The prospect of significantly lower separations specifically in the oceanic regions which will reduce track miles and fuel burn thus lowering the impact on the environment, as well as potential reduction in costs for the fare-paying passenger, are something the industry is constantly striving to achieve. The flight monitoring aspect will go a long way to restoring confidence of many following the unfortunate events of recent years where it has been impossible to track aircraft due to geographic location, this will now be a thing of the past and Aireon have the vision, drive and determination to deliver it.
As Safety Manager, it is my job to manage Aireon’s Safety Management System and to use my experience in the compliance and regulatory worlds to guide Aireon on its road to certification. Principally, I am responsible for ensuring that hazards are captured, all risk is mitigated and managed to an acceptable level, all personnel have undergone the requisite training and that we continue to develop and improve Aireon’s safety culture. Having come from an ATC background and spent time as a regulator in the industry, I possess a unique skill set which provides insight and understanding when dealing with certification bodies such as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as well as the principal end-users in air traffic control.
“Safe, Orderly and Expeditious….” These words are the Air Traffic Controller’s mantra. When a two-dimensional representation of an aircraft cannot be displayed to an Air Traffic Controller, safe and orderly come first, expedition is last. In plain English, this translates to more distance or time-based separation between aircraft going the same route, and inevitably results in a less efficient way of getting aircraft from A to B. As a qualified controller who has relied upon ‘RADAR’ or ‘Surveillance’ to do my job, I know first-hand what it feels like to not be able to provide the best service you can to aircraft due to the limitations of your ground-based equipment. Space-based ADS-B finishes the jigsaw and will give today’s Air Traffic Controllers the means to do all three, globally, for the first time in the history of the industry.