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Global air traffic surveillance is now a reality. Aireon’s space-based ADS-B system is up and running and it has launched a trial of its service over the North Atlantic.
“For the first time in history, we can surveil all ADS-B-equipped aircraft anywhere on Earth,” said Don Thoma, Aireon CEO, at an April 2 press briefing at Washington’s International Trade Center.
Aireon’s solution relies on transponders embedded on each of the satellites in Iridium’s NEXT constellation, comprising 66 online with 6 in-orbit spares and 9 grounded spares. Iridium finished building its constellation in January and during February and March, Aireon tested, validated and calibrated the last of its ADS-B payloads.
Leveraging the global coverage of the satellite network, Aireon picks up and stitches together ADS-B Out signals to build a global map. This is especially useful over oceans and certain remote terrestrial locations which previously lacked coverage. That added up to nearly 70% of the world’s surface which was untracked until now, according to Thoma