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Monday, September 14, 2015

Inmarsat, Airservices Australia Complete ADS-C Flight Tracking Assessment

Juliet Van Wagenen

Inmarsat has proved aircraft tracking trials in line with ICAO recommendations. Photo: ICAO
Inmarsat has proved aircraft tracking trials in line with ICAO recommendations. Photo: ICAO

[Avionics Today 09-14-2015] Inmarsat has finalized an important safety evaluation alongside Airservices Australia, which assessed improved flight tracking services on commercial airline flights operated by Qantas Airways and Virgin Australia to and from Australia using existing satellite communication capabilities.

Airservices Australia and Inmarsat launched a joint initiative to determine if existing Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) capability could meet the International Civila Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) normal tracking requirements in oceanic airspace without impacting airline communications costs or operational efficiency. ADS-C establishes links between aircraft and air traffic control systems to provide information such as an aircraft’s position, speed, altitude and direction of flight. It is routinely used over oceanic or remote areas.

The trial, which supports ICAO’s efforts to enhance global flight tracking in coordination with aviation industry stakeholders, governments and other related specialists, was conducted in phases to better monitor data communication loads and performance. Evaluation began on Jan. 30 over oceanic airspace in parts of the Brisbane Flight Information Region (FIR) followed by expansion to all of northern Australia and Honiara and Nauru oceanic airspace in April. Airways New Zealand joined the evaluation in May, with the coverage area expanded once again to include Melbourne flight information region.

“The evaluation was a success and met the ICAO-defined requirements and regulatory performance criterion. Ongoing monitoring of the Inmarsat satcom network continues to confirm that the increased message frequency has had negligible impact on the network and total ADS-C messages. This represents a neutral or minimal cost impact and at the same time, we have not experienced any deterioration in ADS-C communication performance,” said Mary McMillan, vice president of Inmarsat’s safety and operational services division.

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