NavCanada, Aireon ADS-B Flight Test Successful

Multiple satellite downloads show comparable flight tracking results to ground-based ADS-B stations.

Aireon
Aireon confirmed multiple successful validating tests of the ADS-B system on board a number of recently launched Iridium NEXT satellites.Aireon

Aireon, the partnership between Iridium Communications and air navigation service providers like NavCanada and the Irish Aviation Authority, this week confirmed multiple successful validating tests of the ADS-B system on board a number of recently launched Iridium NEXT satellites.

One NavCanada test conducted on March 7 used a specially-equipped Bombardier aircraft with both top- and bottom-mounted 125-watt ADS-B antennas. During the flight, 6,935 ADS-B messages were received and shown to exhibit comparable results to terrestrial ADS-B stations.

While the flight test aircraft traveled through the Montreal, Winnipeg and Edmonton Flight Information Regions, the crew was required to position the jet in the correct airspace while the appropriate Iridium NEXT satellite was overhead. An additional FAA-supervised flight test on March 30 in the Washington and New York FIRs received and decoded 2,462 more ADS-B messages.

Aireon conducted a low-altitude flight test on March 20 with partner Polaris Flight Systems in the Albuquerque FIR using a Beechcraft Bonanza. The single-engine aircraft was also outfitted with a top- and bottom-mounted 200 watt ADS-B antenna that successfully downloaded an additional 1,050 ADS-B messages.

Aireon's space-based ADS-B system will be operational next year, providing ANSPs with global air traffic surveillance and airlines with real-time flight tracking.

The first 10 Iridium NEXT satellites carrying the Aireon-hosted ADS-B payloads were launched into low-Earth-orbit on January 14. Seven additional launches are scheduled over the next 12 to 15 months, including the second launch targeted for June. When operational, the Aireon constellation will consist of 66 satellites, with an additional nine serving as on-orbit spares.