The FAA manages the largest airspace in the world with responsibility for more than 24,600,000 square miles of oceanic airspace. As such, the FAA needed to play an important role in the development and deployment of space-based ADS-B. The FAA was one of the first ANSPs to partner with Aireon to explore using space-based ADS-B and entered into an MOA in 2011. The FAA has engaged in the requirements development and the design process of the Aireon system from its inception, in order to influence critical safety and security requirements and to ensure Aireon built a robust surveillance system.
Aireon was created in 2012 to provide real-time global air traffic surveillance anywhere in the world. Aireon’s service uses space-qualified Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receivers built into each of the 66 satellites in Iridium NEXT, Iridium’s second-generation satellite constellation, to deliver this transformational capability.
Harris was selected to provide 81 ADS-B 1090 Extended Squitter receiver payloads to Aireon. The Harris contract represents the largest implementation of a hosted payload solution to date. ADS-B receiver payloads will be mounted on each Iridium satellite to operate independently and perform the air traffic surveillance function separately from the main mission of the spacecraft. ADS-B payload power will come from the main satellite bus and it will be designed to work with other sub-systems such as thermal management or communications systems.
NAV CANADA agreed to make a total investment in Aireon of up to $150 million. This investment was made in five tranches, each subject to the satisfaction of various operational, commercial, regulatory and financial conditions. Payment for the first tranche — amounting to $15 million and representing 5.1 percent of the fully diluted equity of Aireon — was made on November 19, 2012.
Aireon signed a 17-year, $42 million agreement with ITT Exelis (now Harris) to provide the ADS-B data processing and distribution component of the Aireon system. Under the terms of the contract, Harris designed and built the processing and distribution platform, a critical component of the Aireon system, and will operate and maintain the system for 15 years.
The investment in Aireon by ENAV, the Irish Aviation Authority and Naviair will was made in four tranches between 2014 and 2017 as key milestones were met. The financing comes on top of the investments already made by the current joint venture participants, NAV CANADA and Iridium Communications Inc.
The ADS-B payload successfully completed qualification testing for operation in the harsh environment of space. This achievement was a key building block for the deployment of Aireon and represents a significant milestone validating that the payload and system design can provide robust reception of ADS-B signals from space.
NATS, the UK’s privatized provider of air traffic control services, signed a 12-year agreement with Aireon to deploy space-based ADS-B. NATS is a charter ANSP of Aireon, working closely with NAV CANADA and the FAA on the technical and operational development of space-based ADS-B services. In this capacity, the three organizations began working on the development of common requirements for the service, including the development of policies, standards and operational procedures.
Aireon created a public service to the world’s aviation industry for the locating and tracking of ADS-B equipped aircraft in emergency situations. The Aireon Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response Tracking (ALERT) service allows aviation stakeholders to track any aircraft that is in an apparent alert or distress phase providing them with precise GPS-based location updates in real time.
Aireon signed a data services agreement with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to provide space-based ADS-B data for the Singapore FIR. Singapore will be the first ANSP in the Asia Pacific region to adopt space-based ADS-B.
Aireon signed a data services agreement with Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS), South Africa’s ANSP. ATNS decided to implement space-based ADS-B to enable real-time visibility throughout its airspace. Increased visibility, coupled with real-time air traffic surveillance, improves both the safety and efficiency of air travel and gives air traffic control the ability to optimize airspace with more accurate, predictable data.
The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) granted primary allocation of the 1090 MHz frequency band for the reception by satellite of ADS-B signals from aircraft. The decision, made during the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) in Geneva, Switzerland, protects this essential frequency for real-time flight tracking and global surveillance of aircraft through ADS-B over satellite. This important step will extend air traffic surveillance coverage of equipped aircraft to 100 percent of the earth’s surface, previously only 30 percent.
Aireon signed a data services agreement with the Dutch Caribbean Air Navigation Service Provider (DC-ANSP), the air traffic services provider for the Curaçao Flight Information Region (FIR). This agreement represents a milestone for the Latin American and Caribbean regions, positioning DC-ANSP as a regional leader in aviation safety and efficiency. This deal allows DC-ANSP to increase flexibility over the cross-regional and intersecting routes managed and facilitate seamless transitions between neighboring FIRs.
ATNS signed a commercialization agreement with Aireon to establish a framework for facilitating the use of space-based ADS-B in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The Agreement will leverage ATNS’s leadership role in the SADC as the operator of the regional VSAT network to distribute space-based ADS-B data to remote locations over satellite links and extending the surveillance capabilities to regions where ground-based communications are prohibitive.
This milestone validated Aireon’s end-to-end performance in preparation for on-orbit tests. Aireon ground systems including the Hosted Payload Operation Center (HPOC) and the Aireon Processing and Distribution Center (APD) functionality became verified. Validations also included the ability to command, status and control the payload, and that the APD will perform real-time control of the payload to receive transmissions from ADS-B equipped aircraft. Transmissions received by the payload are routed through Iridium to the HPOC, APD and delivered to NAV CANADA for final verification.
L3Harris completed production on all ADS-B payloads. The 81 ADS-B payloads were completed ahead of schedule and represent the largest implementation of a hosted payload solution ever achieved. Completion of these payloads represents another milestone toward deploying Aireon’s space-based ADS-B service and enabling real-time air traffic surveillance worldwide.
Aireon signed a contract with the Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA), the air traffic services provider in the Seychelles Flight Information Region (FIR). Through this agreement, SCAA gained access to complete surveillance of the Seychelles FIR, covering an area of approximately 2.63 million square kilometers, a majority of which is oceanic airspace, and borders the Flight Information Regions of Kenya, Somalia, India, Mauritius, Madagascar and Tanzania.
Aireon and FlightAware formed a partnership and together launched GlobalBeacon, a solution that provides airlines with real-time, global flight tracking, designed to ensure airlines comply with ICAO GADSS recommendations and requirements.
Qatar Airways became the first airline to adopt GlobalBeacon to meet ICAO GADSS recommendations and requirements.
On Tuesday, June 21st, SpaceX shipped the first Falcon 9 Iridium satellite dispenser to the Vandenberg Air Force Base launch site in California, and on Monday, June 27th, it was confirmed that the dispenser arrived safely. These events kept the program on schedule and marked significant launch preparation achievements.
Purdue University School of Aeronautics and Astronautics report ‘Environmental Benefits of Space-Based ADS-B’ analyzes the potential impact of space-based ADS-B technology on global aviation carbon emissions in remote and oceanic airspace. The report, authored by Dr. Karen Marais, indicates that space-based ADS-B technology can prevent approximately 14.3 million metric tons of CO2 from entering the atmosphere from 2020 to 2030.
Aireon, FlightAware and SITAONAIR announce a new partnership to provide SITAONAIR’s airline customers with Aireon’s space-based ADS-B data. SITAONAIR customers will have access to 100% global, real-time flight tracking in 2018 with no new avionics required through SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM® FlightTracker product.
Isavia (Iceland’s Air Navigation Service Provider) deployed Aireon’s space-based ADS-B service throughout the Reykjavik Oceanic Control Area. In addition to providing enhanced redundancy to existing terrestrial surveillance resources in the southern part of the airspace, the AireonSM service, for the first time ever, provides real-time surveillance and tracking in the region extending from 70 degrees north to the North Pole.
January 14th, 2017 was the successful first launch and deployment of ten Iridium satellites hosting Aireon’s space-based ADS-B system. Once in orbit, each satellite underwent extensive testing by the Iridium team. After approximately 40-60 days, Iridium handed-off the ADS-B payloads to Aireon for verification of on-orbit technical specifications. Aireon then conducted rigorous independent testing and validation of the space-based ADS-B system for approximately 60 days. As part of this testing and validation process, Aireon’s ADS-B receivers, which were manufactured by L3Harris Corporation, provided air traffic surveillance data through the Aireon network to SDPs at partners NAV CANADA, NATS, ENAV, the Irish Aviation Authority, as well as the FAA.
Aireon announces that they have formally received control from Iridium Communications Inc. of the first ADS-B payload hosted on an Iridium satellite. Aireon then began a rigorous, in-depth testing and validation process, verifying the capability of the ADS-B payloads.
Testing and validation began following the first set of 10 Iridium satellites were in orbit, to ensure accuracy, latency, reliability, redundancy and all other factors associated with the payload delivering on expectations.
In the first quarter of 2017, Aireon payloads completed initial testing and began to see live data. Launch customers also began to receive live data for testing, operations and validation purposes through their service delivery points.
Beginning 2016 and throughout early 2017, Aireon customers began performing tests to establish connections between the Aireon network and the ANSP’s ATM system to validate the performance of the space-based ADS-B data.
Thales has officially begun the testing and validation of the Aireon space-based ADS-B data. The start of data validation marks a major milestone for Aireon and Thales‘ efforts to ensure the successful integration of space-based ADS-B into the TopSky–ATC automation platform.
Aireon conducts three separate successful flight tests with NAV Canada, FAA and private vendor Polaris Flight Systems that demonstrate the system’s inflight messaging and receiving capability as comparable to ground-based receivers.
On April 18, SITAONAIR, Aireon and FlightAware announce that Malaysia Airlines is the first customer to enlist in the joint solution for a real-time, space-based flight tracking alerting system delivered by SITAONAIR’s product AIRCOM® FlightTracker. Under the agreement, all Malaysia Airlines aircraft will have access to minute-by-minute, 100% global, flight tracking data.
The second launch of Iridium NEXT satellites doubled the number of in-orbit Aireon hosted-payloads to twenty and commenced shortly after the first ten satellites passed all qualification tests.
A successful third Iridium NEXT launch took place on October 9th, 2017. Thirty total satellites with the Aireon hosted-payload are now in orbit, accounting for nearly half of the new constellation.
Aireon conducts additional separate flight tests with NAV Canada, FAA and private vendor Polaris Flight Systems which further tested and validated the Aireon system.
The fourth launch of Iridium NEXT satellites, carrying the Aireon hosted-payload officially brought the constellation to more than half-complete. Aireon ADS-B receivers installed on each satellite were already transmitting real-time data and tracking aircraft over parts of the globe under their new watch after this launch.
With completion of the fourth Iridium NEXT launch and 40 hosted payloads now in orbit, Aireon has received 25 billion ADS-B position report messages.
Aireon signed a data services agreement with Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) to bring real-time air traffic surveillance to high-trafficked, terrestrial African corridors. ASECNA’s member states are Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroun, Centrafrique, Comores, Congo, Côte d’ivoire, Gabon, Guinée Bissau, Guinée Equatoriale, France, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritanie, Niger, Sénégal, Tchad and Togo.
The successful fifth Iridium NEXT launch was on March 30, 2018 at 7:13AM PDT. With 50 satellites now in orbit, the Iridium NEXT constellation is over seventy percent complete.
The UK air traffic management service provider, NATS announces its investment in Aireon, after already being a signed customer.
The Ride Share launch (Iridium-RS) launched five satellites and shared the flight with the twin Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment Follow-On (GRACE-FO) satellites, a joint venture between NASA and GFZ. This ride-share deal allowed Iridium to increase the number of in-orbit spares.
Aireon and Airbus announced that they have formed a strategic partnership. This partnership will Airbus’ new product, AirSense, to have a space-based ADS-B data feed. AirSense will offer aviation stakeholders an advanced data analytics platform to access past, current and future information that will improve efficiency, optimize capacity and enhance operations.
Successful deployment and validation testing of the seventh launch of Iridium NEXT satellites will bring the new constellation to the cusp of completion. 100% percent of the constellation being launched via SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets will have been deployed.
The Aireon ALERT pre-registration portal allows ANSPs, aircraft operators, regulators and search and rescue organizations to pre-register for the Aireon ALERT service. Pre-registration opened in Q3 of 2018 and the service became operational in 2019.
The Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS) was created by ICAO. GADSS contains Standards and Recommended Practices (SARPS) that establish what is expected of airlines and aircraft operators for tracking aircraft in normal conditions as well as when an aircraft is in distress. The normal aircraft tracking SARPs are applicable starting November 8, 2018 and establish the air operator’s responsibility to track its aircraft throughout its area of operations. Operators are expected to receive positions at least once every 15 minutes whenever air traffic services cannot do so.
GlobalBeacon went live and began providing airlines with global flight tracking in time for the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS) recommendations, which went into effect on November 8, 2018. GlobalBeacon provides airlines with minute-by-minute global aircraft tracking for their aircraft at all times, anywhere in the world.
Final launch to complete the Iridium NEXT constellation! Ten Iridium NEXT satellites are launched via SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and are in orbit. Upon successful final testing of the final batch deployed, the Iridium NEXT constellation will be 100 percent operational and Aireon space-based ADS-B will be providing 100 percent real-time global aircraft surveillance.
The Iridium NEXT constellation became complete in January 2019 with 100% coverage of the globe with 66 on-orbit satellites and 9 additional on-orbit spares.
With the completion of the Iridium NEXT constellation, the Aireon system is live and providing the first ever 100% complete global set of ATS surveillance grade data.
Edmonton Flight Information Region (FIR), operated by NAV CANADA, went live utilizing space-based ADS-B on April 2nd, 2019. This is the first FIR to operationally use space-based ADS-B in their airspace.
NAV CANADA and NATS began operational trials of space-based ADS-B, initially providing 14 nautical mile (or 17 nautical mile dependent on angle) longitudinal separation between surveillance-identified aircraft using space-based ADS-B flying over the North Atlantic under their respective jurisdictions, both on or outside of the Organized Track System (OTS).
In early 2019, Enav, IAA and Naviair became operational with space-based ADS-B. As a result, their airspaces improved operational efficiency, enhanced safety and the ability to reduce overall costs associated with the current ground-based surveillance infrastructure.
In 2013, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) invested in Aireon and signed a data services agreement to deploy space-based ADS-B in their airspace. As of the second quarter of 2019, they have completed the Implementation Service Acceptance Test (ISAT).
Aireon is approved in May 2019 by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as an Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) Organization to provide Air Traffic Management (ATM)/Air Navigation Service (ANS) surveillance services for oceanic separation of aircraft. This authorizes Aireon as the first-ever certified provider of aircraft surveillance-as-a-service.
The Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) has announced that the winner of the inaugural CANSO Award of Excellence in ATM 2019 is Aireon, NATS and NAV CANADA for their joint project to deploy space-based ADS-B in the North Atlantic. CANSO Members voted for the winner following presentations by the six shortlisted nominees at the CANSO Global ATM Summit in Geneva on 18 June. Read full press release.
Based on its recent analysis of the global air traffic manage-ment market, Frost & Sullivan recognized Aireon with the 2019 Global Technology Innovation Award for introducing the first-ever, global air traffic surveillance system that uses space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receivers on satellites. Read full press release.
The Air Traffic Control Association (ATCA) has recognized Aireon, NAV CANADA and NATS with their Annual Industry Award for the successful deployment of space-based ADS-B technology over the North Atlantic Ocean. Read full press release.
Aireon and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) signed a data services agreement to implement Aireon’s air traffic surveillance service in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata’s oceanic airspaces. These regions are located in the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean and represent over six million square kilometers.
Aireon ALERT became fully operational on July 9th, 2019, allowing registered stakeholders to track any aircraft that is in an apparent alert or distress phase. Aireon ALERT is operated by the Irish Aviation Authority out of their North Atlantic Communications Centre in Ballygirreen, County Clare, Ireland and is enabled by the Aireon system, the world’s first global air traffic surveillance system.
In 2015, Singapore’s Air Navigation Service Provider, CAAS, signed a data services agreement to deploy space-based ADS-B in the Singapore FIR. In the third quarter of 2019, they will have completed the Implementation Service Acceptance Test (ISAT). Singapore will be the first ANSP in the Asia Pacific region to adopt space-based ADS-B.
In 2018, the Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) signed a data services agreement to deploy space-based ADS-B in the 18-member states of Africa covering 16.1 sq km of airspace. In the third quarter of 2019, they will have completed the Implementation Service Acceptance Test (ISAT).
Aireon and Atech Negocios em Tecnologias S/A have successfully integrated space-based ADS-B data into SAGITARIO, Atech’s Air Traffic Control (ATC) automation platform, utilized by Brazilian Department of Airspace Control (DECEA).
Aireon and COCESNA (Corporación Centroamericana de Servicios de Navegación Aérea) signed an agreement to deploy space-based ADS-B in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. The agreement also establishes a strategic partnership to enhance the operations and collaboration of air traffic surveillance in the Central American region.
In 2015, DC-ANSP, the Air Navigation Service Provider of Curacao, signed a data services agreement to deploy space-based ADS-B in the Curacao FIR. On November 18, 2019, DC-ANSP announced the successfully deployment of Aireon’s space-based ADS-B surveillance service in the Curaçao Flight Information Region (FIR). Click here to read the press release.
Papua New Guinea Air Services Limited (PNGASL) and Aireon signed an agreement to deploy Aireon’s space-based ADS-B air traffic surveillance service in the Port Moresby Flight Information Region (FIR). This deal will enable the near-term deployment of 100 percent, real-time air traffic surveillance of all ADS-B equipped aircraft.
In 2015, Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS), South Africa’s ANSP, signed a data services agreement to deploy space-based ADS-B to enable real-time visibility throughout the South African airspace. In the third quarter of 2019, they will have completed the Implementation Service Acceptance Test (ISAT).
In 2017, the Icelandic Air Navigation Service Provider, ISAVIA signed a data services agreement to deploy space-based ADS-B throughout the Reykjavic Oceanic Control Area (OCA). As of the third quarter of 2019, they completed the Implementation Service Acceptance Test (ISAT).
The Irish Aviation Authority has won the prestigious Global Air Traffic Management Award (ATM) for Service Provision 2019. The IAA facility in Ballygirreen, Co. Clare provides the Aireon ALERT service 24 hours a day, every day to airlines, air navigation service providers and search and rescue organisations from around the world, making the skies an ever-safer place.
Following nearly two years of collaboration on terrestrial surveillance between the Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) and Aireon, the two organizations have concluded the use of space-based ADS-B for surveillance services beginning January 1st 2020 within the six flight information regions (FIRs) of ASECNA: Antananarivo, Brazzaville, Dakar Terrestrial, Dakar Oceanic, N’djamena and Niamey.
After nearly two years of testing and validation, the Agency for Aerial Navigation Safety in Africa and Madagascar (ASECNA) went operational with the deployment of space-based ADS-B across its six Flight Information Regions (FIRs)—Antananarivo, Brazzaville, Dakar Oceanic, Dakar Terrestrial, Niamey, and N’Djamena—in December 2019.
In February 2020, EUROCONTROL and Aireon signed a 10-year agreement for the provision of space-based ADS-B data. This will enhance flow management capabilities across EUROCONTROL’s 41 European Member States and two Comprehensive Agreement (CA) States contributing to improve predictability, capacity, environmental impact supporting sustainable growth throughout the European region.
Aireon was recognized by Aviation Week Network’s 63 Annual Laureate Awards in the Commercial Aviation category. For being the first satellite-based air traffic surveillance system and providing continous tracking of aircraft over the oceans and remote regions, Aireon won the Air Traffic Management category.
The Maverick Awards, hosted jointly by The Air Traffic Controllers Association (ATCA) and Civil Air Navigation Services Organization (CANSO) awarded Aireon, NAV CANADA and NATS the award in the category of Collaboration. This award recognized the three organizations for successfully and safely transitioning a new surveillance capability, space-based ADS-B, together with new ATM tools and ATC standards into a live service.