Inmarsat partners with Airservices on tracking

UK satellite business Inmarsat is partnering with Airservices Australia and other key aviation industry stakeholders to trial improved flight tracking services on commercial airline flights to and from Australia.

The announcement follows a resolution on 6 February by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to adopt a new 15-minute tracking standard for commercial aircraft.

Inmarsat is working with industry partners, Airservices Australia, Qantas and Virgin Australia in developing the operational concept for the trial, using Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Contract (ADS-C) satellite technology in Australia’s oceanic regions.

Airservices Australia is the first Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) to trial the ICAO standard, utilising Inmarsat’s global flight tracking ADS-C messaging service.  ADS-C provides air traffic controllers with a constantly updated surveillance picture of their airspace, thereby allowing safe and efficient oceanic operations.

Around 11,000 commercial passenger aircraft are already equipped with an Inmarsat satellite connection, representing over 90 per cent of the world’s long haul commercial fleet. Airlines participating in the trial include Qantas and Virgin Australia.

Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said: “This is an important step in improving international airline safety and we are very pleased to be working with Airservices Australia and our industry partners to implement this enhanced flight tracking service.

“We applaud ICAO’s decision to announce the new tracking standard and believe that we are well placed to help implement the standard given our existing global satellite coverage and the time-frame proposed. Inmarsat’s heritage is in safety and we stand ready to coordinate normal and abnormal flight tracking services with the airlines and the ANSPs.”

Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) is a function on an aircraft that broadcasts position, altitude, vector and other information for use by air traffic control facilities for surveillance and by airlines for tracking. The data is transmitted based on an explicit contract between an ANSP and an aircraft. This contract may be a demand contract, a periodic contract, an event contract and/or an emergency contract. ADS-C is most often employed in the provision of Air Traffic Services (ATS) over transcontinental or transoceanic areas.

ADS-C provides active aircraft position tracking as it transmits the current position and the next two positions as programmed into the aircraft’s flight management system. It is this contract ‘intent’ feature of ADS-C system that allows flight dispatchers and air traffic controllers to track the aircraft progress and predict its next position

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