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IAA Welcomes ITU Decision to Support Space-Based Air Traffic Control Surveillance

12 Nov 2015

The IAA praises the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for supporting global aviation safety by adopting a primary allocation of the 1090 MHz frequency band for the reception by satellite of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (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 – from the 30 percent coverage available today.

The IAA, along with NAV Canada, Iridium (USA), ENAV (Italy), and Naviair (Denmark) is a partner in Aireon, which is deploying a global, space-based air traffic surveillance system, which will become operational by 2018. For the first time, Aireon will provide real-time ADS-B surveillance to oceanic, polar and remote regions, as well as augment existing ground-based systems that are limited to terrestrial airspace. Aireon will harness next generation aviation surveillance technologies and extend them globally to significantly improve efficiency, enhance safety, reduce emissions and provide cost savings benefits to all stakeholders.

“The Irish Aviation Authority commends the ITU for their commitment to adopting primary allocation protection for satellite-based ADS-B tracking,” said Eamonn Brennan, CEO, Irish Aviation Authority (IAA). “IAA and Aireon are partnering to provide Aireon ALERT, a global flight tracking public service, to be used in emergency situations, once the service is operational in 2018. By having primary allocation, satellite-based ADS-B will provide the aviation industry and search and rescue community with a global, precise and accurate tracking capability.  The ITU, with the support of ICAO, has made it their mission during the WRC to enhance safety for the flying public and we applaud their successful campaign.”

Today, real-time air traffic control surveillance of flights cannot go beyond the line-of-sight of radar or ground-based ADS-B stations, leaving the vast majority of the planet without air traffic surveillance.  By utilizing space-based ADS-B receivers built into the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, Aireon will present air traffic controllers with real-time air traffic surveillance information allowing for significant improvements in safety and operational efficiency. Aireon’s global air traffic surveillance solution will be operational in 2018. The allocation enables the global aviation community to use this ground-breaking capability to safely monitor, control and operate their ADS-B equipped aircraft.

“This primary allocation is a victory for the international aviation industry:  airlines, ANSPs and the travelling public as a whole and we applaud the ITU for making air traffic safety a priority,” said Don Thoma, CEO, Aireon. “Space-based ADS-B comes with numerous benefits to airlines, ANSPs and all aviation stakeholders, in addition to real-time air traffic surveillance, such as more efficient routing, increased fuel savings and the ability for pilots to make real-time flight path adjustments to avoid poor weather.”

ADS-B technology is already widely used onboard aircraft and mandated by many state regulators and Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), including the Federal Aviation Administration, EUROCONTROL, Airservices Australia, Hong Kong, Civil Aviation Authority Singapore (CAAS) and Indonesia.  Adding satellite-based air traffic surveillance and tracking to ADS-B technology will fundamentally change the way air traffic is managed today, allowing for decreased flight separation, more efficient airport ground operations and when necessary, decreased emergency response times, worldwide.  Airlines will not have to further equip, beyond what’s mandated, to be able to utilise this global, real-time service.

According to François Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau, “ITU has worked closely with ICAO to take urgent action in the wake of recent tragedies such as MH370. We recognised a need to take all necessary steps to support improved global flight tracking and we focused many of our resources on gaining a rapid resolution. This action represents a broad collaborative effort by states and global regulators to improve safety for all aviation stakeholders and the flying public. In reaching this agreement at WRC-15, ITU has responded in record time to the expectations of the global community on global flight tracking.”

The ITU is the United Nations’ specialized agency for information and communication technologies. It is charged with managing radio spectrum and satellite orbits with a goal of protecting and supporting everyone’s fundamental right to communicate.

For more information about Aireon, visit: www.aireon.com.

 

For media queries, contact:

Tony Lane

Communications Executive

Irish Aviation Authority

Tel: +353 1 603 1199 

Mob: +353 86 791186


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