Thales has officially begun testing and validation of the Aireon space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) data. The start of data validation marks the latest stage in efforts to integrate space-based ADS-B into the TopSky–ATC automation platform.
The two companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in June 2015, which was designed to pave the way for Aireon data to be distributed to TopSky-ATC end-users.
With the Aireon system now receiving initial air traffic information from its first orbiting satellites, Thales will independently validate the space-based ADS-B air traffic surveillance data. This collaboration will include an assessment of technical performance, defining requirements associated with utilization of the data safely and reliably, as well as determining the impact the service will have on existing maintenance and operational processes.
The MoU was the first agreement signed between Aireon and an air traffic management automation platform provider.
The Aireon service is scheduled to be operational in 2018, shortly after the completion of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation. On 14th January 2017, the first 10 Iridium NEXT satellites carrying the Aireon ADS-B hosted payload were successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
In total, the constellation will consist of 66 operational low-Earth-orbit satellites providing global coverage. The service will also provide Air Navigation Service Providers with global aircraft surveillance capability, and is expected to help reduce fuel costs, increase safety and enable more efficient flight paths.