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Rockwell Collins offers Aireon ADS-B trackingRockwell Collins offers Aireon ADS-B tracking

Manufacturer says it’s first to offer satellite monitoring to business operators

Rockwell Collins announced at the National Business Aviation Association's annual convention in Orlando, Florida, on Oct. 15 that it is now offering Aireon space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) flight tracking to its business aviation customers. The flight tracking solution, a first for the company, resulted from the integration of Rockwell Collins’ ARINCDirect solution and FlightAware’s terrestrial ADS-B network.

Satellite-based navigation is becoming the norm. iStock photo.

ADS-B uses GPS satellites instead of ground-based radar to determine aircraft location, and is a key technology behind the FAA’s Next Generation Air Traffic Control System. The FAA has mandated ADS-B Out after Jan. 1, 2020, for flight in airspace where a transponder is required today. Industry is also using the technology to monitor and track flights.

The Aireon network is hosted on the Iridium NEXT constellation of 66 low-Earth-orbit satellites, each of which carries an Aireon payload capable of receiving 1090-MHz Extended Squitter (1090ES) ADS-B signals. Rockwell Collins said the constellation provides truly global coverage, with a standard reporting rate of once per minute position updates. Because ADS-B Out will be required in many countries by 2020, the company said, aircraft operators typically do not need to install additional equipment to take advantage of Aireon services. 

“Rockwell Collins customers benefit from the certainty of their aircraft’s position, even over oceans, polar regions, deserts, or jungles—all places where frequent position accuracy has historically been difficult to achieve,” said Bob Richard, senior director of ARINCDirect for Rockwell Collins.

“Aireon space-based ADS-B is truly a game changer for the aviation industry and we are thrilled that Rockwell Collins recognizes its potential to improve operations,” said Daniel Baker, FlightAware founder and CEO. 

By providing a position report once per minute, FlightAware and Aireon say they offer the first global solution that exceeds the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) requirement. 

The system resulted from the tragedies of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and Air France Flight 447, which ICAO said highlighted current air navigation system limitations that hamper timely identification and location of aircraft in distress. “An effective and globally consistent approach to improving the alerting of search and rescue services is essential,” ICAO said, adding that GADSS addresses all phases of flight under all circumstances—including distress. The system provides up‐to‐date tracking of aircraft progress; autonomous distress tracking; and post-flight location, which will facilitate response and recovery in the event of an accident.

Optimal Aireon performance will require ADS-B antenna diversity—meaning an antenna on both the belly and the top of the aircraft. However, the majority of turbine aircraft are TCAS-equipped, so they already have a top-mounted transponder antenna.

Rockwell Collins’ ARINCDirect flight support services provide business jet operators with a single, comprehensive suite of services and support for streamlined flight operations—including flight planning, international trip support, cabin connectivity, and flight operations management.

FlightAware and Aireon are partners on GlobalBeacon, a web-based alerting dashboard that combines Aireon’s space-based ADS-B position data with FlightAware’s technology and worldwide flight information, including origin, destination, and estimated time of arrival. FlightAware also leverages data from air traffic control systems in more than 45 countries, and from its own network of nearly 20,000 ADS-B ground stations in nearly 200 countries. Based on ICAO standards and recommended practices, GlobalBeacon is designed to be a turnkey solution for airlines and aircraft operators, complementing existing tools.

Mike Collins

Mike Collins

Technical Editor
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
Topics: Avionics, ADSB

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