Qatar Airways will be the global launch customer of GlobalBeacon (sm), a technology solution by Aireon LLC and FlightAware, designed to provide up-to-the minute global tracking of all aircraft equipped with Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) in 2018.
The national carrier is thus meeting, three years in advance, the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) recommendation for compliance by 2021.
Announced by ICAO in March this year, Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS) was created to help improve the ability to detect commercial aircraft in remote locations. The key components of GADSS recommend that aircraft report their position to the airline’s operations centre at a minimum of once every 15 minutes under normal flight circumstances.
However, if an aircraft should become in distress, position reports are then to be provided every minute. GlobalBeacon will provide a permanent minute-by-minute reporting capability, far exceeding the ICAO recommendation.
Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar al-Baker said, “As one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, both our needs, and our drive to deliver the very best services for our global passengers, are continually evolving. GlobalBeacon will seamlessly integrate with our existing ICAO 2018 compliant flight watch technology (Total Operations System), and further enhance our fleet management by providing updates every minute.
“I am proud of Qatar Airways’ leadership in this vital area of aviation safety and awareness. We will be the first airline in the world to have the capability to use worldwide satellite air surveillance to support our airline operations and to achieve the highest level of flight tracking standards ahead of the ICAO 2021 mandate.”
GlobalBeacon combines FlightAware’s worldwide flight tracking information, including origin, destination, flight plan route, position, and estimated time of arrival with data from Aireon’s space-based ADS-B aircraft surveillance system, due to be operational in 2018. The solution will provide Qatar Airways with state-of-the-art technology to meet and exceed GADSS requirements and recommendations.
In May, Qatar Airways announced the successful completion of its TOPS fleet management system, designed to optimally schedule aircraft and manage flights. TOPS, which stands for Total OPerations System, integrates data from multiple sources and produces a holistic view of the airline’s operation, from the global scale to the individual flight level, in order to anticipate and notify operations staff of any potential issue and provide solution options. Specific tasks that can now be carried out due to this integration include, but are not limited to: tail assignment optimiser, whereby aircraft are assigned to specific lines of flying with respect to the operational needs of the route, based on the specific aircraft’s capabilities; NOTAM manager, where Notice to Airmen are immediately communicated to the specific dispatchers and operations staff for more perfect situational awareness; and Flight Watch, which consolidates all flight data into a single graphical source for ease of tracking, communicating with and managing the airline’s more than 500 daily flights to more than 150 destinations in six continents.
In addition to aircraft tracking and location reporting requirements, GADSS requires aircraft to provide immediate notification of abnormal events, regardless of air traffic unit boundaries and without a degradation of baseline search and rescue services. Further, distressed aircraft status tracking under GADSS can be activated by the pilot, automatically by the aircraft and remotely by the operations control centre.
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