Revolutionary new aircraft location system is launched in Shannon

Mike Finnerty


Mike Finnerty


Revolutionary new aircraft location system is launched in Shannon

Peter Kearney, CEO Irish Aviation Authority, and Don Thoma, Aireon, check out the system in action

THE Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) team at the North Atlantic Communications Centre near Shannon Airport  has launched the world’s first ever global Aircraft Location and Emergency Response Tracking (ALERT) service.

The Aireon ALERT technology can locate aircraft in difficulty anywhere in the world.

The first system of its kind in public service, Aireon ALERT provides Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), commercial aircraft operators/airlines, aviation regulators and search and rescue organisations the last known position of any aircraft globally.

It allows for identification of an accurate position for an aircraft that is in an apparent state of distress or experiencing a loss in communication.

Peter Kearney, CEO Irish Aviation Authority said that the IAA and Aireon have been preparing for this moment for a long time and were proud to host and operate the world’s first global aircraft locating system.

“The IAA has always been about innovation and service excellence. Our position, as a partner in Aireon and in the provision of this global service, further strengthens Ireland’s role as a key player in the global aviation industry.

“Our facility in Ballygirreen, Co. Clare is now providing the Aireon ALERT service 24 hours a day, every day.

“We are excited to play such a critical role in delivering this game-changing service to market. Building on our role as a key player in communications for the North Atlantic, we are now proud to be powering Aireon ALERT for the entire globe,” he said.

Aireon ALERT connects with the aircraft’s Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS), which is already fitted in the majority of aircraft in the world.

Until now, only 30% of the Earth’s surface was monitored through conventional ground radar surveillance.

With Aireon ALERT, users now have access to exact location information for aircraft in distress on-demand, which will dramatically benefit global emergency response efforts.

The progress in radar technology is a result of an industry-wide soul-search following the vanishing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014.

In the case of MH370, searchers had to rely on cursory “pings” that were sent out by the aircraft every 10-14 minutes – but with this new technology, that time is cut down to a mere eight seconds.

The lack of such a technology also resulted in Air France Flight 447, which went missing over the Atlantic Ocean in June 2009, not having it’s wreckage found until July 2011.

Operated by the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), Aireon ALERT is enabled by the AireonSM system, the world’s first global air traffic surveillance service.

This system, which went live on 2nd of April 2019, monitors all ADS-B-equipped aircraft flying across the world.

“Now that the Aireon system is operational, we are thrilled to deliver this much-needed public service to the industry,” said Don Thoma, CEO of Aireon.

“Aireon ALERT can provide the most accurate and precise aircraft locating data for emergency and distress situations, free of charge.

“As the operator of the world’s only global aircraft surveillance system, we recognize our unique position to provide such a critical service to the aviation community and see it as our duty to provide this data to the proper authorities to assist in emergency situations,” he added.