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Aireon gets EASA approval for space-based aircraft tracking

US company Aireon has had its space-based aircraft tracking system endorsed by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.

Aireon says its certification as an air navigation service provider follows a three-year collaboration to prove the performance of its data for use in aircraft surveillance.

The EASA approval means Aireon will not need additional certification to offer its space-based ADS-B aircraft tracking system for business purposes in Europe.

"This is not only a validation of our processes, procedures and safety case in the EU, but it also establishes a robust safety case that can be used outside of the EU and throughout the world," states Vincent Capezzuto, Aireon's chief technology officer.

Transceivers placed by Aireon on 66 satellites can pick up the ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance broadcast) signals transmitted by aircraft. The signals are usually received by ground-based stations, but picking them up via satellite means that aircraft can be tracked across oceans or areas without surveillance infrastructure on the ground.

UK air navigation service provider NATS is currently trialling the technology over the North Atlantic, a region in which aircraft positions are updated only every 14min and aircraft have to stick to specific routes, speeds and altitudes.

Using the space-based system, controllers will be able to see within seconds if an aircraft deviates from its route. This means that separation between aircraft can be safely reduced and routes made more efficient, thus reducing fuel consumption and emissions.

"EASA's certification, the first of its kind for a provider like Aireon, is just the beginning," adds Capezzuto. "This is an absolute differentiator for Aireon as a global provider of surveillance-as-a-service."

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