Space-based air traffic surveillance

Thursday, 20 June, 2013

ITT Exelis has been awarded a contract by Aireon LLC to provide the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data processing and distribution component for its global space-based air traffic surveillance system.

Aireon, a joint venture between Iridium Communications and NAV CANADA, will take advantage of the hosted payload space on Iridium NEXT, Iridium’s second-generation satellite constellation, to enable fully global and continuous space-based monitoring and control of aircraft. Exelis will design and build the data processing and distribution platform, a critical component of the Aireon system, and will operate and maintain the system for 15 years from first launch.

Aireon’s space-based ADS-B solution will enable air traffic controllers to safely grant pilots more efficient flight levels and direct routing where ground-based surveillance infrastructure cannot be deployed cost-effectively. Air traffic surveillance will be available globally to air navigation service providers (ANSPs), including over oceans and remote regions where such surveillance is not currently possible.

Exelis will reliably distribute the ADS-B data to multiple air traffic control facilities of any ANSP worldwide that is interested in purchasing surveillance data subscription services from Aireon. Through this contract, Exelis will ensure that Aireon’s service seamlessly integrates with, and extends, existing ground-based services, setting a foundational building block for a globally harmonised space-based air traffic management system.

ADS-B is becoming more widely used around the world. Australia is the first country to have nationwide coverage (above 30,000 feet altitude), with more than 50 ground stations at almost 30 sites.

ITT Exelis is a US$5.5 billion defence and technology company that recently acquired Melbourne-based C4i.

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