|Rendering of Aireon space-based ADS-B system. Photo: Aireon|
[Avionics Today 05-03-2016] Aireon and South Africa's Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) have signed a Regional Commercialization Agreement to jointly develop the uses of space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data throughout the Southern part of the African continent. The agreement, which follows a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in January, will establish the framework that will facilitate the use of space-based ADS-B data in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. It will also leverage ATNS's role as the operator of the regional VSAT network in the SADC in order to distribute space-based ADS-B data to remote locations over satellite links, thereby extending the surveillance capabilities to regions where ground-based communications are prohibitive.
In addition to air traffic surveillance, ATNS will work with regional Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) to collectively use space-based ADS-B data to develop a regional flow control solution that will complement the existing SADC VSAT network. Regional flow control will result in substantial cost-savings and operational benefits to the airlines and ANSPs in the region. The agreement aims to offer the entire region access to air traffic data, which has previously been limited for a variety of geographic and socioeconomic reasons.
"Africa has some of the most remote regions in the world, making this technology immensely valuable for those with limited infrastructure. We will now give them the option to have total air traffic surveillance, without the need to build anything on the ground. This might be a game-changer for the region," said ATNS CEO Thabani Mthiyane.
The timing of this agreement coincides with Iridium's recent completion of its first Iridium Next satellites. The first Iridium Next launch with SpaceX is scheduled for this summer, when the company will launch 10 satellites using a Falcon 9 rocket out of the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Iridium Next constellation is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017, and the Aireon service will be fully operational in 2018.