Iridium Venture Offers to Track Planes

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1 Iridium Venture Offers to Track Planes Aireon Service, in Emergencies, Would Fill in Gaps in Radar By ANDY PASZTOR Sept. 21, :03 p.m. ET The air-traffic control tower at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was lost without a trace on March 8. Reuters In the wake of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370's disappearance, which remains a mystery more than six months later, a satellite venture led by Iridium Communications Inc.IRDM -0.67% is starting an initiative to provide free emergency flight-tracking of aircraft. The move calls for setting up detailed procedures and a round-the-clock information center to provide the last known position of aircraft that may be missing or out of communication. The service would fill in the tracking gap that currently exists for a number of airlines over oceans or other regions without traditional ground-based radar coverage. Some carriers already have invested in real-time tracking globally. Expected to be available in 2017, the service would cover airliners and other planes equipped with certain navigation equipment that is becoming the industrywide standard. Many airlines have long resisted making real-time satellite tracking routine, largely because it can entail significant capital and operating costs. But since Flight 370's ENAV 2

2 disappearance on March 8, airlines and international safety organizations have shown new interest in such efforts. The latest proposal is likely to appeal to the industry because for many carriers and business-jet operators, it wouldn't require additional equipment or usage charges. Because the satellite-tracking system wouldn't be rolled out for a couple of years, the move won't satisfy demands for quickly finding ways to prevent air-traffic controllers from losing contact with planes over remote, radar-deficient areas, as was the case with the lost Malaysian jet, which was thousands of miles off course. The vast majority of U.S. and European airliners, as well as many from Asia and elsewhere, already have, or are anticipated to install, the necessary equipment, dubbed ADSB. The Iridium-led venture, called Aireon LLC, promises to offer the service to all properly equipped planes, regardless of whether they are customers. Satellite-communications company Inmarsat PLC announced plans in April to offer basic free tracking services to airlines. For Inmarsat's offer to become a reality, however, any ultimate industry standards for satellite tracking would have to encompass its communications satellites. In the case of Aireon, the ADSB standard already is mandated by the U.S., Europe and many other regions, while new airliners rolling off assembly lines increasingly have the capability. In the U.S., certain ADSB equipment will be required in all controlled airspace by Aireon's goal is to find a way to "legally and appropriately provide the information" free to airlines, air-traffic control organizations and search or rescue teams, according to Don Thoma, president and chief executive of Aireon, which is based in McLean, Va. "We want to make sure we do it right." Aireon's primary aim is to help pilots choose the most efficient routes. Using a constellation of Iridium-operated satellites with global coverage, Aireon's core business will be giving crews, air-traffic controllers and airline dispatchers moreprecise locations of aircraft flying outside traditional ground radar coverage. As a result, Aireon says, planes will be able to save fuel and time by flying closer to each other, avoiding storms and changing altitudes during oceanic crossings. Iridium says such flexibility is projected to save airlines $125 million annually across the North Atlantic alone. Other regions likely to benefit in the future include Hawaii and routes over parts of the Caribbean. Flight-tracking services would be an important but ancillary service for the company activated in case of an airborne emergency and intended to pass on information already collected by Aireon. Liability and other legal concerns typically constrain satellite-services companies from passing on such data to noncustomers. ENAV 3

3 But according to Mr. Thoma, the disappearance of the Malaysian airliner and the continuing search for wreckage in the Indian Ocean persuaded Aireon officials it was time to propose a new option. "This seemed like the right thing to do," he said. It could take a year "to define the technical, operational and legal details," according to Cyriel Kronenburg, Aireon's vice president of sales and marketing. In addition to satellite-services provider Iridium, Aireon's stakeholders include air-traffic control systems from Canada and other countries. Aviation regulators, airline representatives, plane manufacturers and equipment suppliers are analyzing various options to ensure real-time tracking of airliners virtually everywhere they fly. The International Air Transport Association, the industry's largest global trade group, months ago convened a task force to produce conclusions by the end of 2014 for implementing such a system. The study group hasn't yet released its recommendations or commented on specific technologies. Separately, the Federal Aviation Administration increasingly is urging airlines to speed up installation of ADSB and other satellite-based devices. Deputy agency administrator Mike Whitaker recently announced an industrywide call to prod carriers to equip planes with advanced avionics. "It's time for all user of the national airspace" to work toward that goal, Mr. Whitaker said in a release, because anticipated safety and efficiency benefits "depend on 100% equipage." Write to Andy Pasztor at ENAV 4

4 RASSEGNA WEB REUTERS.COM Data pubblicazione: 22/09/2014 ENAV 5

5 RASSEGNA WEB AIRTRAFFICMANAGEMENT.NET Data Pubblicazione: 22/09/2014 AIREON LAUNCHES EMERGENCY RESPONSE TRACKING Aireon, developer of the world s first space-based ADS-B global air traffic surveillance system, is to develop a global emergency tracking solution that will be provided as a public service to the aviation community, free-of-charge. The Aireon Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response Tracking (Aireon ALERT) service will allow rescue agencies to request the location and last flight track of any 1090 MHz ADS-B equipped aircraft flying in airspace currently without surveillance. A comprehensive, global aircraft tracking solution is essential in emergency situations, as evidenced by MH370 earlier this year and Air France 447 in 2009, said Don Thoma, president and CEO, Aireon. AireonSM is being deployed to improve the efficiency and safety of aircraft operations in oceanic and unsurveilled airspace. The same technology behind these efficiency and safety gains can also make a significant difference in providing quick, accurate information in emergency situations. With one global view of ADS-B equipped aircraft, Aireon ALERT will provide accurate and realtime tracking data immediately to authorized search and rescue operations, without requiring airlines to equip aircraft with new avionics or the ANSPs and authorities to deploy new systems. Aireon is deploying a global space-based ADS-B surveillance capability providing direct air traffic controller visibility of flights operating in oceanic or remote airspace, focused on improving the efficiency and safety of aircraft operations. When Aireon is fully operational, anticipated for 2017, it will create a powerful platform capable of tracking ADS-B equipped aircraft around the globe in real-time. The Aireon ALERT service will be available soon after Aireon s full deployment and will be provided through a 24/7 application and emergency call center. Historical track data will be available to pre-authorized users, including ANSPs, airlines and search and rescue authorities, through Aireon ALERT soon after controller communications are lost with an aircraft, and the system can also provide real-time tracking of aircraft in distress, provided ADS-B transmissions are still operational. ENAV 6

6 RASSEGNA WEB AIRTRAFFICMANAGEMENT.NET Data Pubblicazione: 22/09/2014 Tracking of aircraft in emergency and search and rescue situations is a complex issue, said Cyriel Kronenburg, vice president sales and marketing for Aireon. We plan to engage the various aviation stakeholders including the airlines, ANSPs, regulators and search and rescue organizations over the next 12 months to define the technical, operational and legal details of providing this data in emergency situations. We anticipate support from the world s airlines for the approach taken by Aireon for emergency tracking, said John Crichton, president and CEO of NAV CANADA. Airlines already stand to gain over $125 million per year in fuel savings in the North Atlantic alone by using Aireon s space-based surveillance service. The Aireon ALERT public service offers an additional benefit, free of charge, ensuring that ADS-B equipped aircraft can be tracked anywhere in the world, even in airspace managed by ANSPs that have not subscribed to the Aireon service. Aireon is a joint venture among Iridium Communications, 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 This new capability is a quantum leap from today s land-based systems, extending air traffic surveillance to the entire planet and offering untold opportunity for the safety and efficiency of air travel over oceanic and remote regions. ENAV 7

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