By Chip Downing
After authoring an article on the topic of using an Internet of Things (IoT) business model to increase safety and security in passenger aircraft, I am very excited to see that Aireon LLC, designer of the world’s first space-based ADS-B global air traffic surveillance system, has announced a plan to provide a satellite-based safety location service named the Aireon Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response Tracking (Aireon ALERT) service. This global aircraft emergency tracking solution will be free-of-charge, and will based upon ADS-B technology, where an aircraft determines its own position via GPS satellite navigation (GPS) and periodically broadcasts this in the 1090MHz radio frequency. ADS-B is one of the technologies selected as part of the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen) and the Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR).
Global satellite communications supporting the real-time collection of IoT device data is the backbone of this offering. This IoT data will store the flight tracks on all aircraft, even in areas where there is no active flight surveillance, like large bodies of water and sparsely populated areas. It does not require aircraft to install new equipment nor does it require regional aviation authorities (ANSPs) to deploy new systems. The Aireon ALERT service can provide real-time flight tracking data immediately to pre-authorized users, along and rescue authorities, not only for the lost flight but also for all previous aircraft flights along similar flight paths.
The Aireon ALERT service will track any ADS-B equipped aircraft anywhere in the world, even in airspace managed by ANSPs that have not subscribed to the Aireon service. It can also provide the real-time tracking of aircraft in distress, provided ADS-B transmissions are still operational on the aircraft.
Aireon is a joint venture among Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM), NAV CANADA, ENAV, IAA, and Naviair, established to launch the Aireon system by hosting ADS-B receiver payloads on Iridium NEXT, Iridium’s second-generation satellite constellation, scheduled for first launch in 2015. Iridium Next extends air traffic surveillance to the entire planet and offers untold opportunity for the safety and efficiency of air travel over oceanic and remote regions.
Aireon is a leader in creating value from real-time IoT data. The core of their business, based upon the collection and analysis of ADS-B tracking data using their global constellation of communications satellites, exists to create better operational efficiency for airlines. Aireon projects this business will save airlines over $125 million per year in fuel savings in the North Atlantic alone by using the surveillance service. The safety tracking service is free, and will enable rapid responses to global airline incidents. Because it can generate an immediate alert for failing aircraft, it has the wonderful opportunity of preventing a future loss of a commercial airliner.