Spire Releases CubeSat-Based Flight Tracking Solution

By Juliet VanWagenen | December 6, 2016
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[Avionics Magazine 12-06-2016] Spire is introducing a space-based global aircraft tracking service called Spire AirSafe, which will capture and provide the location of all Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipped planes. Spire said in a statement that the solution would be ready for customers ahead of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) mandate for most international flights to provide updated flight information every 15 minutes by November 2018.
Spire is introducing a new ADS-B tracking solution that can meet the ICAO 15-minute tracking mandate. Photo: Spire
Spire will launch approximately 25 ADS-B equipped satellites in 2017 and another 50 in 2018 for a total of 75 satellites. The company will launch the satellites into a diverse set of orbits to provide coverage over oceanic areas, polar regions and other remote places where ground-based tracking is ineffective or impossible. Satellite-based tracking is the only way to provide a 4-dimensions every 15 minutes (ICAO 4D/15)-compliant method of aircraft tracking over oceanic area. 
“Spire AirSafe will offer a compelling alternative to big-ticket air traffic surveillance systems,” said Peter Platzer, Spire’s CEO. “Most customers don’t need up-to-the-second aircraft information — for many of them, the standard set forth by the ICAO of 15 minutes will do just fine. Spire will be able to provide plane tracking for them at an excellent price.” 
Spire’s satellites, which are built on the CubeSat standard, are about the size of a loaf of bread and draw on advancements in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), robotics, and high-end consumer electronics. 

Projects such as the FAA’s NextGen, which will bring a U.S. domestic ADS-B mandate in 2020, are rolling out globally. Europe, Australia, China, Indonesia, and several other countries have mandated implementation dates for ADS-B and countries such as Vietnam, Sri Lanka and Singapore have already mandated that planes carry and use the technology. 

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