Aireon LLC, a private company based in McLean, Virginia, announced a plan over the weekend to offer global emergency tracking as a public service to the aviation community, free of charge, by 2017. The Aireon Alert service will allow rescue agencies to request the location and last flight track of any 1090 MHz ADS-B equipped aircraft flying in airspace currently without surveillance, the company said in a news release. “A comprehensive, global aircraft tracking solution is essential in emergency situations, as evidenced by MH370 earlier this year and Air France 447 in 2009,” said Aireon CEO Don Thoma. The company is currently deploying a global space-based ADS-B surveillance capability that will provide direct air traffic controller visibility of flights operating in oceanic or remote airspace.
Nav Canada has signed on as a partner in the effort. “We anticipate support from the world’s airlines for the approach taken by Aireon for emergency tracking,” said John Crichton, Nav Canada CEO, in a news release. “Airlines already stand to gain over $125 million per year in fuel savings in the North Atlantic alone by using Aireon’s space-based surveillance service. The Aireon Alert public service offers an additional benefit, free of charge, ensuring that ADS-B equipped aircraft can be tracked anywhere in the world, even in airspace managed by [air navigation service providers] that have not subscribed to the Aireon service.”Aiereon’s competitor, Immarsat, is developing a similar service. The FAA has not signed on to either system.