Monday, June 26, 2017

Second batch of Aireon ADS-B payloads launched into orbit

Ten Iridium Communications satellites successfully launched June 25 via a SpaceX rocket, marking the second batch of Iridium NEXT satellites carrying Aireon’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) payloads to go into orbit.

There are now 20 Iridium NEXT satellites in orbit. The launch followed a successful Jan. 17 launch. “This launch has increased the total number of Aireon payloads in orbit to 20 with another 55 destined for space in a series of six additional launches planned for the next 12 months,” McLean, Virginia-based Aireon said in a statement. “Aireon’s technology will provide real-time, 100% global air traffic surveillance and tracking, which will for the first time bring aircraft visibility to all regions of the planet.”

Ten air navigation service providers (ANSPs) have already signed up for Aireon’s data services, which are expected to become operational next year. Aireon has achieved historic firsts during the validation testing on the initial batch of ADS-B payloads in orbit, including demonstrating aircraft surveillance over the poles. Aireon said it has received more than 1 billion aircraft position reports using the initial batch of ADS-B payloads, eight of which have been activated.

In addition to the services being provided to ANSPs, Aireon has teamed with FlightAware to offer airlines the flight tracking solution Global Beacon. Launch customer Qatar Airways will participate in a “soft launch” of Global Beacon later this year, Aireon CEO Don Thoma told reporters on a conference call last week.

“This is a journey to getting the full system up there,” Thoma said last week in anticipation of the June 25 launch. “The first launch gave us validation … Each additional launch will add to our ability to have broader capability for test and validation.”

Aireon chief technology officer and VP-engineering Vinny Capezzuto said the ADS-B payloads launched June 25 “will go through a rigorous process of testing and validating each individual payload, pushing their limits to maximize operational effectiveness.”

(Aaron Karp - ATWOnline News)

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