Global air traffic surveillance could shorten flights

Iridium's next-generation satellites will monitor aircrafts in real-time all over the world.
Written by Amy Kraft, Weekend Editor on

Iridium communications is planning to put tracking devices on all of its next-generation satellites to keep tabs on all planes in the sky in real-time.

The Aireon system is a step toward replacing the current radar-based aircraft tracking systems to GPS and will give more detailed information to workers on the ground.

The company says the new system could even reduce flight times by allowing pilots to take advantage of new routes such as ones around the poles, which will conserve fuel.

Discovery News reports:

"The project builds on the ongoing effort to upgrade aircraft tracking systems from radars to GPS satellite navigation signals. Currently however, only about 10 percent of the planet has the GPS receivers to pick up an aircraft's signals. That limits the routes airplanes can fly, particularly those crossing the oceans or flying over the planet's poles."

The private air traffic control company Nav Canada will be the first customer to use the new tracking system.

"Iridium said it expects to receive about $200 million from Nav Canada and other air-traffic-control organizations for installing the devices on its satellites," Wall Street Journal reports. It also anticipates receiving fees from air-traffic-control organizations and other customers using the system."

The new GPS system will also save the airlines money. According to project adviser Russ Chew, airlines will save "between $6 billion and $8 billion over 12 years on their north Atlantic and north and central Pacific routes."

The FAA is also very interested in the system according to Iridium CEO Matt Desch.

Desch told Discovery News: "There won't be any more blind spots anywhere in the world."

Eyes in Space Could Shave Flight Times  [Discovery News]

Photo vial flickr/brianDhawkins

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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