Thursday, 17 May 2018

Global air traffic surveillance of aircraft

Updated 5 February 2019

The disappearance of MH370 highlighted a pressing need for aircraft position to be reported and recorded.  It has been announced that the UK Air Traffic Control provider - National Air Traffic Services (NATS) - has taken a 10% stake in USA based Aereon - NATS takes equity stake in Aireon.  It is claimed that this will help accelerate the technology required for global aviation surveillance.


See Aireon - Space based ADS-B

Through a network of 66 low Earth orbiting Iridium® NEXT satellites, AireonSM will monitor the location of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipped aircraft flying anywhere in the world, transforming the way air traffic control services are provided.


The service will offer global air traffic surveillance of aircraft. This means that oceans and remote regions like the poles, deserts and mountainous areas will have real-time aircraft surveillance for the first time.

The forecasted safety and airspace capacity benefits, together with the savings in fuel and carbon emissions, are being hailed as the greatest revolution in air traffic management since the introduction of radar 70 years ago.

Last year, NATS Controllers handled 500,000 flights through North Atlantic airspace — that’s 80% of all transatlantic traffic — and by 2030 industry estimates expect that to grow to almost 800,000 flights. Being able to control this volume of flights as well as offer airlines the routes they want at a speed that suits them would generate a net saving of more than $300 in fuel and 2 tonnes of CO2 per flight, according to analysis by NATS and ICAO. That equates to more than a million tonnes of CO2 saved every year.

Reuters 16th May 2018 - UK's NATS to trial new plane-tracking tech for busy North Atlantic


*** Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) ***

ADS-B is transforming all segments of aviation. Real-time precision, shared situational awareness, advanced applications for pilots and controllers alike – these are the hallmarks of ADS-B NextGen surveillance.
  • Real-time ADS-B is used now for air traffic control
  • General aviation is safer with ADS-B traffic, weather, and flight-information services
  • Safety and efficiency improve with advanced ADS-B applications
ADS-B improves safety and efficiency in the air and on runways, reduces costs, and lessens harmful effects on the environment.

See Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) - ADS-B



  *** Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) ***

The International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) amended aircraft tracking standards, a response to the still-unresolved disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370, become applicable 8 November 2018. The standards are the first of two phases of international airworthiness recommendations that will make ICAO’s Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) a reality.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) first adopted Amendment 39 to Annex 6 of its normal aircraft tracking standards and recommended practices (SARPs) in November 2015. The SARPs require operators to track aircraft operating under normal flight conditions every 15 minutes with an optional abnormal-event tracking capability.  Most major airlines and business aviation operators are already able to meet these requirements and are awaiting further industry and regulatory guidance to meet the second phase of GADSS provisions that are still being technologically defined by ICAO.

Those future requirements begin 1 January 2021, and include a provision for new production airframes to be equipped with the ability to produce position reports once per minute when under abnormal flight conditions, independent of aircraft power and not isolatable. This tracking requirement must be capable of being activated remotely.

Source: Aviation Today 26 November 2018


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