[Avionics Today 09-26-2016] Qatar Airways has emerged as the launch customer for the GlobalBeacon flight tracking solution produced through a partnership between Aireon and FlightAware. The agreement will provide Qatar Airways' Integrated Operations Centre (IOC) with global tracking of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B)-equipped aircraft when the solution becomes operational in 2018.
According to the companies, the new solution will satisfy International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS) recommendations. The key components of GADSS recommend that aircraft report their position to the airline's operations center at a minimum of once every 15 minutes under normal flight circumstances. However, if an aircraft should become “in distress,” position reports are then to be provided every minute.
Qatar Airways will also integrate FlightAware's Firehose Application Programming Interface (API) with their existing visualization tool in their flight operations center. Firehose provides secure Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)-based streaming flight positions and flight status data via a combination of worldwide air traffic control data, Automatic Dependent Surveillance–Broadcast (ADS-B), Mode S Multilateration (MLAT) and aircraft datalink information.
Aireon's space-based ADS-B service will be operational in 2018, shortly after the completion of the Iridium Next satellite constellation. The constellation will consist of 66 operational Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) satellites providing global coverage. The service will also provide Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) with global aircraft surveillance capability, and is expected to help reduce fuel costs, increase safety and enable more efficient flight paths.