Middle eastern carrier Qatar Airways has announced that it will be the global launch customer of GlobalBeacon, a technology solution by Aireon LLC and FlightAware, designed to provide up-to-the minute global tracking of all aircraft equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) in 2018. The system will make the airline compliant to ICAO’s 2021 flight tracking recommendations, three years before the recommended date.
The Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS), announced by ICAO in March 2016 was created to help improve the ability to detect commercial aircraft in remote locations. The key components of GADSS recommend that aircraft report their position to the airline’s operations centre at a minimum of once every 15 minutes under normal flight circumstances and should an aircraft become in distress, position reports are then to be provided every minute.
Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive, Qatar Airways Group
“As one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, both our needs, and our drive to deliver the very best services for our global passengers, are continually evolving. GlobalBeacon will seamlessly integrate with our existing ICAO 2018 compliant flight watch technology (Total Operations System), and further enhance our fleet management by providing updates every minute.
I am proud of Qatar Airways’ leadership in this vital area of aviation safety and awareness. We will be the first airline in the world to have the capability to use worldwide satellite air surveillance to support our airline operations and to achieve the highest level of flight tracking standards ahead of the ICAO 2021 mandate.”
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 centre.
Qatar Airways will also integrate FlightAware’s Firehose application programming interface (API) with their existing visualisation 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.
Aireon’s space-based ADS-B service will be operational in 2018, shortly after the completion of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation. The constellation will consist of 66 operational low-earth-orbit satellites providing global coverage.