Aireon Space-Based Data Plays a Part in Making Decision to Ground Boeing 737 Max Fleet

Aireon environments and satellites diagram. Credit: Aireon.

After the tragic crash of Ethiopia Airlines Flight 302 authorities turned to Aireon to ask for data from its space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) system.

Initial data from the Aireon ADS-B system was reportedly part of the decision to ground the entire Boeing 737 Max fleet.

The ADS-B system was designed in part to provide data in the unfortunate circumstance should a plane go missing or crash.

Aireon provided SpaceQ with the following statement;

“Our sympathies go out to the families of the passengers and crew of Ethiopia Airlines Flight 302.  The Aireon space-based ADS-B system has the ability to monitor the data from all aircraft equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) transponders and the system was able to capture information associated with Flight 302.  At the request of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Transport Canada and several other aviation authorities, Aireon provided the data transmitted from Flight 302 to support the accident investigation.  The authorities are in receipt of the data and are in the process of their respective accident investigations. We cannot comment on the cause of the tragedy or the outcome of the investigation, only that we have provided the data.”

Aireon has hosted ADS-B receivers built into each of the 66 satellites in the Iridium NEXT constellation. This past January, the last of the hosted Aireon space-based sensors were launched on the final 10 Iridium NEXT satellites.

The Aireon ADS-B system is currently undergoing final testing before it official comes online in the next month.

Aireon started as a partnership between Iridium and Air Navigation Service Provider NAV Canada. From its founding in 2012 to today the partnership added several other Air Navigation Service Providers including ENAV from Italy, NATS from the UK, Naviair from Denmark and Irelands IAA.

That partnership is likely to grow, and Aireon recently announced what it calls a “major” press conference for April 2 in Washington.

About Marc Boucher

Marc Boucher
Boucher is an entrepreneur, writer, editor & publisher. He is the founder of SpaceQ Media Inc. and CEO and co-founder of SpaceRef Interactice Inc. Boucher has 20 years working in various roles in the space industry and a total of 27 years as a technology entrepreneur including creating Maple Square, Canada's first internet directory and search engine.