Aireon Clarifies GA Services

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

Aireon Alert has promised to provide free emergency response tracking for any ADS-B-equipped aircraft, anywhere in the world—yet if a general aviation pilot goes to their website to register, they might get a different impression. “The service is only available to commercial aircraft operators, ANSPs [air navigation service providers], regulators and search and rescue organizations,” the website says. “The service is not designed for private pilots and the General Aviation (GA) community.” However, Aireon confirmed to AVweb in an email on Wednesday that the satellite-based service will help find a GA airplane in distress, by working with the search and rescue provider. There is no need for individual GA owners or pilots to register in advance.

If a properly equipped airplane goes missing, Aireon said, “the appropriate search-and-rescue organization can call the Aireon Alert 24/7 phone number and provide the missing aircraft’s unique ICAO 24-Bit Address (in HEX, i.e. 4CA123) or Flight ID. The Aireon Alert operator will search for the last known position of the aircraft, and if found, will provide that location in WGS84 coordinates to the search and rescue organization over the phone. The Aireon Alert operator will also email a report of the location of the missing aircraft to the designated representative within the pre-registered organization.” Aireon added that the satellite-based service was envisioned to provide rescue support especially above oceans, polar regions and mountainous terrain, where aircraft surveillance is currently lacking. The system is on track to begin operations early next year.

view on YouTube

Comments (7)

The devil is in the detail. A "properly equipped aircraft" means one with dual antennae because the Aireon system won't pick up most aircraft with only one antenna on the bottom (the case for 99% of the SEP GA fleet). OK perhaps for most turbine drivers, but useless for the little guys.

Posted by: VINCE FISCHER | August 30, 2018 6:33 AM    Report this comment

Vince, a bottom ADS-B antenna will be picked up by the Aireon system with fairly high reliability. The signal strength of a bottom antenna in the horizontal plane and somewhat above it is quite strong and the majority of Aireon satellites in view will be near the horizon just due to the ratio of orbital sphere area compared to directly above you. Signals from the ADS-B antenna travel along the skin of the aircraft and curve with it as well so there is some signal above the airplane.

"Properly equipped" really means 1090ES ADS-B out as Aireon did not provide for UAT ADS-B in the satellites. UAT is a US only extension of ADS-B that should not have existed, IMO. UAT makes ADS-B far more complex than it should have been with regards to ADS-B in, TIS-B, and ground station translators. A consequence of the UAT option, if someone elects to install UAT ADS-B, they do not get he benefit of the Aireon tracking.

I think the US should eliminate the requirement for an ELT for 1090ES ADS-B equipped aircraft. The huge network of amateur 1090ES receivers, the official ones operated by the FAA, and the satellite receiver array operated by Aireon make having an ELT unnecessary. An ADS-B derived crash detection algorithm would do far better and have far less false alarms than ELTs, even the new 406 MHz ELTs, and there is no search any more.

Additionally, having 1090ES ADS-B should also remove the every 2 year transponder check. The GPS information sent by ADS-B provides a real time, always there, check of the system. There was a proposal/NPRM to greatly simplify RVSM using ADS-B, and that should be extended to transponder checks now, too.

Mike C.

Posted by: MIKE CIHOLAS | August 30, 2018 8:14 AM    Report this comment

Vince, a bottom ADS-B antenna will be picked up by the Aireon system with fairly high reliability. The signal strength of a bottom antenna in the horizontal plane and somewhat above it is quite strong and the majority of Aireon satellites in view will be near the horizon just due to the ratio of orbital sphere area compared to directly above you. Signals from the ADS-B antenna travel along the skin of the aircraft and curve with it as well so there is some signal above the airplane.

"Properly equipped" really means 1090ES ADS-B out as Aireon did not provide for UAT ADS-B in the satellites. UAT is a US only extension of ADS-B that should not have existed, IMO. UAT makes ADS-B far more complex than it should have been with regards to ADS-B in, TIS-B, and ground station translators. A consequence of the UAT option, if someone elects to install UAT ADS-B, they do not get he benefit of the Aireon tracking.

I think the US should eliminate the requirement for an ELT for 1090ES ADS-B equipped aircraft. The huge network of amateur 1090ES receivers, the official ones operated by the FAA, and the satellite receiver array operated by Aireon make having an ELT unnecessary. An ADS-B derived crash detection algorithm would do far better and have far less false alarms than ELTs, even the new 406 MHz ELTs, and there is no search any more.

Additionally, having 1090ES ADS-B should also remove the every 2 year transponder check. The GPS information sent by ADS-B provides a real time, always there, check of the system. There was a proposal/NPRM to greatly simplify RVSM using ADS-B, and that should be extended to transponder checks now, too.

Mike C.

Posted by: MIKE CIHOLAS | August 30, 2018 8:15 AM    Report this comment

Vince, a bottom ADS-B antenna will be picked up by the Aireon system with fairly high reliability. The signal strength of a bottom antenna in the horizontal plane and somewhat above it is quite strong and the majority of Aireon satellites in view will be near the horizon just due to the ratio of orbital sphere area compared to directly above you. Signals from the ADS-B antenna travel along the skin of the aircraft and curve with it as well so there is some signal above the airplane.

"Properly equipped" really means 1090ES ADS-B out as Aireon did not provide for UAT ADS-B in the satellites. UAT is a US only extension of ADS-B that should not have existed, IMO. UAT makes ADS-B far more complex than it should have been with regards to ADS-B in, TIS-B, and ground station translators. A consequence of the UAT option, if someone elects to install UAT ADS-B, they do not get he benefit of the Aireon tracking.

I think the US should eliminate the requirement for an ELT for 1090ES ADS-B equipped aircraft. The huge network of amateur 1090ES receivers, the official ones operated by the FAA, and the satellite receiver array operated by Aireon make having an ELT unnecessary. An ADS-B derived crash detection algorithm would do far better and have far less false alarms than ELTs, even the new 406 MHz ELTs, and there is no search any more.

Additionally, having 1090ES ADS-B should also remove the every 2 year transponder check. The GPS information sent by ADS-B provides a real time, always there, check of the system. There was a proposal/NPRM to greatly simplify RVSM using ADS-B, and that should be extended to transponder checks now, too.

Mike C.

Posted by: MIKE CIHOLAS | August 30, 2018 8:15 AM    Report this comment

Mike,
1090ES has a limited amount of space available meaning that it has been reserved or designed for commercial aircraft. It does not offer wide expansion capabilities. Consequently, with the highest concentration of GA airplanes in the US, if all these GA airplanes equipped with 1090ES only, it would have been close to saturation levels.

978UAT provides unlimited growth potential for any number of airplanes. With the vast majority of GA flying at 18,000 ft and under, the largest number of GA hours are flown in the US, it makes perfect sense to have this majority of airplanes on an unlimited expansion frequency of UAT978 vs the limited expansion capabilities of 1090ES.

I am not an electrical engineer, rocket scientist, no MIT background, and have not earned a dime in the tech industry. However, it appears to this layman that the expense of engineering a self-contained, on board WAAS GPS source ( the heart of ADS-B) on 978UAT is less expensive making it available for a much wider participation.

The FAA, for all its foibles and resistance to change, needs NexGen to work. To work NexGen needs the utmost in compliance by people like me as well as the commercial operator. Someone in the FAA saw that 978UAT will be much more available, accessible, cheaper, and expandable therefor making a provision for the largest portion of global GA more likely to comply.

Statistically, the countries with 1090ES only ADS-B has the lowest aircraft compliance numbers. That includes the US airlines, overseas airlines, the turbines, and corporate aviation that flies in the 18,000 ft and up, ATC controlled airspace virtually all the time. EASA has already fessed up that the majority of airplanes in their jurisdiction will not even be close to a 2020 compliance. But they do not support recreational/GA aviation.

As a result, I am happy that we have 978UAT and that 978UAT ADS-B offerings are much less expensive than 1090ES.

Posted by: Jim Holdeman | August 30, 2018 9:08 AM    Report this comment

I agree 110% with you, Mike. After I installed 1090 ADS-B in my airplane and played with Flight Aware, I was blown away by what I saw. When I want to know what my ADS-B equipped buddies are doing ... all I have to do is go to Flight Aware. With the singular exception of close to the ground -- a very small CEP -- I know exactly where they are. Along with the FAA PAPR process for quality chcks, why do I need a transponder check, either? Good points.

Jim. Early on, the FAA DID worry about saturation on 1090Mhz if everyone went that way. More recently, however, I've read numerous technical articles where that fear is no longer relevant. Besides, with "them" killing off GA one razor blade cut at a time ... it won't be long before it won't matter anyways. If you look at Flight Aware, the only place you see hoardes of airplanes is at the commercial Class B airports. IF ATC can sort all that out there ... 1090Mhz in the hinterlands is no issue whatever.

Posted by: Larry Stencel | August 30, 2018 9:54 AM    Report this comment

The biggest attraction of UAT is the VFR anonymous mode. 1090 doesn't have that option.

Posted by: Robert Gatlin-Martin | September 2, 2018 6:50 AM    Report this comment

Add your comments

Log In

You must be logged in to comment

Forgot password?

Register

Enter your information below to begin your FREE registration