banner-desktop banner-mobile

The Latest News From the IAA

Aireon ALERT – One Year Anniversary

07 Jul 2020

Aireon ALERT – One Year Anniversary of a Free Emergency Aircraft Locating Service

On 9 July, 2019, Aireon and the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) launched the world’s first-ever, global emergency aircraft locating service. Aireon Aircraft Location and Emergency Response Tracking (ALERT), operated out of the North Atlantic Communications Centre in Ballygirreen, County Clare began officially providing critical, on-demand data to companies and organisations across the world.

For the past year, Aireon ALERT has been assisting in search and rescue efforts all around the world.   Since its launch, Aireon ALERT has processed 43 emergency requests for data as of June 8th, 2020, several of which provided defining data in life and death situations. The service and quality of the data has been globally welcomed by search & rescue organisations and has been endorsed for use by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Additionally, the ALERT service has received international recognition as the winner of the inaugural Air Traffic Management ATM Award for Service Provision in 2019.

Aireon ALERT has 390 active registrants, made up of 147 airlines, 104 air navigation service providers, 67 national civil aviation regulators, 55 search & rescue organisations, and 17 others from across 119 countries. 

A notable save over this past year was in December 2019.  Don Hinkel’s 1090 Cessna P210N engine failed mid-flight over Bahamian airspace. Terrestrial-based sources indicated his last known target at 1,300 feet, however, space-based data showed the last known position of the aircraft was more than two nautical miles away and had tracked the altitude down to sea-level, providing the U.S. Coast Guard the aircraft’s precise location.   As a result, SAR was able to narrow their search parameters and find the pilot alive, treading water in the ocean without a life jacket, as the aircraft had sunk after ditching.  After just three hours, the pilot was recovered alive, but exhausted, 55 meters from the position provided by Aireon ALERT.

Sean Patrick, General Manager, Oceanic Development & NAC at the IAA commented on the anniversary: “Within our first year of operations, Aireon ALERT has already made a huge impact on the industry for the better. Our team at the North Atlantic Operations centre in rural County Clare provides the ALERT service 24 hours a day, every day, and we are proud to play such a critical role in delivering this life-saving service to airlines and search & rescue organisations across the globe. 

The extraordinary accuracy of this data, coupled with its rate of delivery and immediate availability to the requesting party, makes it the most reliable emergency aircraft location service available. It is completely unique, and it is completely free.”

To go back a bit, Aireon’s space-based ADS-B is helping organizations and agencies in ways beyond air traffic control separation services. Aireon’s data is available to ANSPs, commercial aircraft operations/airlines, regulators and search and rescue organizations to provide accurate and timely last-reported positions.  Aireon ALERT is free and global and provides registered stakeholders, on request, the exact position data for an aircraft in distress or in an emergency situation anywhere in the world. For search and rescue (SAR) teams, minutes, even seconds, can mean the difference between success or failure. Aireon ALERT gives them the power to respond more quickly and effectively.

Users of Aireon ALERT have had positive things to say after using the service. Some feedback that Aireon and the IAA have received from the operational SAR services: 

1) “Thank you for your assistance in the flight tracking of XXXXXX.  This intel was invaluable as it provided an additional 4 minutes of tracking showing the aircraft basically onto the runway, including doing a downwind approach which was not shown in other intel feeds like Flight Radar 24 tracking stopped at 0358Z. The outcome of this incident was we had an ELT alert at time 0402Z, which coincided with the Aireon Alert data.  The end results is the aircraft on landing has overrun the end of the runway into the river. The sole pilot was able to escape the cockpit and swim to shore.”

2) “Yes, while we probably would have found the pilot without your data, it certainly made it easier and may have made the difference in saving a life as I don’t know what the water temperature was or how much longer the pilot could have treaded water without exhaustion and fatigue.”

For more information on Aireon ALERT, visit   

Aireon ALERT launch media: 

About Aireon LLC 

Aireon has deployed a space-based air traffic surveillance system for Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipped aircraft throughout the entire globe. Aireon is harnessing next-generation aviation surveillance technologies that were formally ground-based and, for the first time ever, is extending their reach globally to significantly improve efficiency, enhance safety, reduce emissions and provide cost savings benefits to all stakeholders. space-based ADS-B surveillance covers oceanic, polar and remote regions, and augments existing ground-based systems that are limited to terrestrial airspace. In partnership with leading ANSPs from around the world, like NAV CANADA, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), Enav, NATS and Naviair, as well as Iridium Communications, Aireon is providing a global, real-time, space-based air traffic surveillance system, available to all aviation stakeholders. For more information, please visit