Many aviation experts will tell you that partnerships are key to successfully delivering on your mission in the aviation industry. Combining the strengths of various players across the aviation ecosystem is an important way to support safer travel and a superior passenger experience. Partnerships also play a significant role in fueling the significant shifts that are happening in today’s flight tracking ecosystem.

In the first article of our flight tracking ecosystem series, we captured insights from experts all across the aviation ecosystem about how flight tracking has evolved over the years and how far the industry has come. Now, our panel of experts explore how partnerships are driving innovation for the evolving flight tracking ecosystem today, and in the future.

Below, our experts dig into elements like space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B), modernized satellite constellations, and the fusion between air and ground sources:

CAT Editors: How are airlines currently benefiting from newer flight tracking tools like ADS-B flight tracking?

Dan Pendergast, Marketing Director at Collins Aerospace: Airlines benefit from ADS-B flight tracking primarily due its ability to deliver aircraft position reports at a high rate, normally measured in seconds between position reports. This provides airlines a much more accurate realization of their aircraft’s actual flight paths versus their planned route. Airlines can use this information in real-time to adjust flight route to save fuel or as historical information to use in their flight planning systems to drive more efficiencies into future flight plans.

CAT Editors: How does space-based ADS-B benefit air traffic control and management?

Flight Tracking

Cyriel Kronenburg, Vice President of Aviation Services at Aireon: For the first time, air navigation service providers (ANSPs) are able to use a global air traffic surveillance system through Aireon’s space-based ADS-B technology. Unlike traditional air traffic surveillance technologies, Aireon’s space-based ADS-B service extends air traffic surveillance over oceans, mountains, remote areas and polar regions. This circumvents the limitations of ground-based air traffic surveillance, which is often restricted by location, cost, and power requirements. Our partnership with FlightAware has enabled this technology to reach aircraft operators in addition to being used for air traffic surveillance.

Ground-based systems left an estimated 70 percent of global airspace without any real-time air traffic surveillance coverage. By eliminating these global blind spots, space-based ADS-B allows for increased safety, precise aircraft locations, improved search and rescue response, reduction in gross navigation errors, improved cross-border safety, and faster pilot/controller communication. This groundbreaking technology improves safety, efficiency, predictability, and capacity while reducing overall infrastructure costs.

CAT Editors: How does fusing data from land-based and space-based sources benefit airlines? What challenges does this approach address?

Flight Tracking

Daniel Baker, CEO and Founder of FlightAware: We’ve reached a point where we can provide cost-effective flight tracking to airlines and aircraft operators with zero gaps in coverage. Through partnership with Aireon, we’ve enabled airlines of all sizes to exceed GADSS mandates for flight tracking. This is a huge safety milestone for the industry.

FlightAware also brings the added value of having over two decades of historical data in our warehouse, which we’re now using to build predictive, machine learning models for airports and airlines. This cutting-edge technology will power the next generation of operational tools and is already being used to optimize personnel allocation at Frankfurt airport.

Connected Aviation Today (CAT) Editors: How is the new Iridium constellation making flight tracking information gathering possible and more user-friendly?

Flight Tracking Ecosystem

Mike Hooper, Director and General Manager for the Aviation Line of Business at Iridium: The upgraded Iridium® constellation supports all current Iridium users while shepherding in new broadband IP capabilities as well as satellite hosted payloads. Iridium has long served the aviation industry with tracking capabilities, and several of our partners offer products today that meet the GADSS and Global Aircraft Tracking (GAT) requirements.

In the future, Iridium Certus® IP services (our new specialty broadband platform) will extend this capability even further. The planned Iridium Certus avionics products that are currently in development will have small antennas for broadband services and will enable two Modular Concept Unit (MCU) avionics. The complete Iridium offering to the operators will enable a range of choices regarding Iridium SATCOM solutions. Entry level Iridium narrowband services will enable GADSS/GAT services, and the broadband Iridium Certus IP solutions will enable the same along with other services such as Electronic Flight Bag (EFB), weather data, black box streaming, etc.

Stay tuned for our next installment of the Flight Tracking Ecosystem series, where we will look forward at how the flight tracking ecosystem will continue to adapt and change to the needs and expectations of the aviation industry.

Chelsea Barone

About Chelsea Barone

Chelsea is an editor for Connected Aviation Today, managing the day-to-day editorial activities. Chelsea writes for other federal government and technology industry publications. Her background lies in B2B and enterprise technology, specifically cloud computing, SaaS, travel IT, and mobile devices.