Aireon Details the Effectiveness of New Satellites

ADS-B coverage is better than expected.


Recent validation tests of a new satellite system have been very successful, according to Aireon officials.Aireon

Aireon, the joint partnership of a number major air navigation service providers and Iridium Communications, said recent validation tests of the company's new satellite system have been very successful. Aireon conducted the test jointly with the FAA and NavCanada from the agency's William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The coordinated effort involved trials of a 125-watt transponder with top and bottom-mounted antennas on the FAA’s “flying laboratory,” a Bombardier Global Express, carrying highly calibrated flight-data test equipment and recorders. The first test aircraft departed Atlantic City International Airport and flew through New York Oceanic Airspace (KZWY), broadcasting the aircraft identification, position, velocity and altitude every 0.5 seconds. During the second test, NAV CANADA, operating a Bombardier jet specially equipped with ADS-B transponders, flew into Edmonton airspace on two separate legs totaling five hours.

Aireon reports that over 20 Aireon system payloads already in orbit on satellites circling the earth received, decoded and delivered a total of 101,517 ADS-B messages during the flight tests. On a monthly basis, they’re receiving over six billion position reports from targets of opportunity.

NavCANADA’s director of flight operations, Anthony McKay said, “Other than reducing the [transponder] power output from 250 watts to 125 watts, our flight test aircraft has been using the standard ADS-B Out system commercially available for the CRJ fleet. These tests continue to grow our already high confidence in the system and its use in day-to-day ATS surveillance.”

Dr. Michael Garcia, director of systems engineering at Aireon said, …“Most exciting for our team was to see that our payload footprints are covering vastly more surface area than anticipated, creating a level of redundancy that is invaluable when authenticating position information.”