Satellite-based surveillance system developer Aireon announced Feb. 7 that it has formally received control from Iridium Communications of the final six receiver payloads it has placed on new Iridium Next satellites, completing its space-based aircraft surveillance network.
The Harris-built automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) receivers, carried as “hosted payloads” on 66 active Iridium Next satellites, will receive regular ADS-B position signals from transponder-equipped aircraft below, then stream the data to Aireon’s ground network.
A joint venture of Iridium and five air navigation service providers (ANSP) headed by Nav Canada, Aireon will process the data and distribute it to subscribing ANSPs to track and maintain separation of aircraft in oceanic and remote airspace outside of radar coverage.
On Jan. 11, Iridium and rocket provider SpaceX launched the final set of Iridium Next satellites into low-Earth orbit, completing a two-year, eight-flight launch campaign. Iridium activated cross-link communications between the 65th and 66th satellites on Feb. 5 and declared the full constellation operational.
Aireon plans to begin full operation of its ADS-B surveillance system in the first quarter, beginning with airline operational trials over the North Atlantic involving Nav Canada and UK NATS. Nav Canada also deploy the service in the Edmonton flight information region.
For the next two weeks, Aireon said it will conduct Initial Performance Verification testing of the payloads. Upon completed that stage, the company will move to a Detailed Performance Verification phase, focused on calibrating the payloads for optimal performance…