Aireon LLC and FlightAware have announced that Qatar Airways will be the first airline to adopt the new GlobalBeacon solution to meet the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS) recommendations. The agreement will provide Qatar Airways’ Integrated Operations Centre with minute-by-minute, global tracking of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipped aircraft by 2018 — three years ahead of the ICAO deadline for this capability.
Following the loss of Malaysia Airlines MH370 and Air France 447, there were widespread calls for a global flight tracking system. ICAO subsequently adopted provisions for autonomous aircraft tracking during normal operations (position reports every 15 minutes, effective November 2018) and in distress circumstances (position reports every minute, effective January 2021). The latter require aircraft to carry autonomous distress tracking devices which can autonomously transmit location information at least once every minute in distress circumstances.
GlobalBeacon combines FlightAware’s worldwide flight tracking information with data from Aireon’s space-based ADS-B aircraft surveillance system, due to be operational in 2018. The solution is claimed to meet and exceed GADSS requirements and recommendations.
In addition to aircraft tracking and location reporting requirements, GADSS requires aircraft to provide immediate notification of abnormal events, regardless of air traffic unit boundaries and without a degradation of baseline search and rescue services. Further, distressed aircraft status tracking under GADSS can be activated by the pilot, automatically by the aircraft and remotely by the operations control center.
Qatar Airways will also integrate FlightAware’s Firehose application programming interface (API) with their existing visualization tool in their flight operations center. Firehose provides secure TCP-based streaming flight positions and flight status data via a combination of worldwide air traffic control data, ADS-B, Mode S multilateration (MLAT), and aircraft datalink information.