Jan 2018 | No Comment

New satellite tracking of inflight aircraft to improve safety

At any given time, there are approximately 59,000 aircraft in flight worldwide. The ability to effectively track, monitor and report these aircraft is paramount to ensuring the safety of passengers and crew, as well as that of communities on the ground. The United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies – the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) – which establishes worldwide standards that foster seamless interconnection of a vast range of communications systems, has now adopted the main technical principals of enhanced aircraft automatic dependent surveillance via satellite, to track in-flight aircraft worldwide.

Aircraft automatic dependent surveillance is a technique in which aircraft automatically provide, via a data link, data from the on-board navigation and position-fixing systems, including aircraft identification, four-dimensional position (e.g. latitude, longitude, altitude and time) and additional data, as appropriate. The technique is termed “automatic” because there is no intervention from the pilot or interrogation from terrestrial stations, and “dependent” because the data is dependent upon on-board systems such as global positioning system and altimeter. The system relays the information to the relevant airline operators and air traffic control centers who then track the aircraft identifying any anomalies in its flight profile and initiate emergency procedures where necessary, enhancing safety in the sky.

“Since the tragic loss of life with the disappearance of flight MH370 in 2014 over the South China Sea, ITU has undertaken activities to improve the tracking of in-flight aircraft using advanced information and communication technologies,” said ITU Secretary- General Houlin Zhao. “The adoption of these technical principals for enhanced aircraft surveillance via satellite will make great strides in saving lives.”

Different aircraft automatic dependent surveillance systems have been standardized within the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), such as terrestrial automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) and automatic dependent surveillance-contract (ADS-C).

The technical principals adopted by ITU support implementation of reception of ADS-B via satellite that would enhance surveillance of aircraft, particularly in areas where terrestrial receivers cannot practically be deployed, such as in oceanic, transpolar and remote regions – and would be a major step in the implementation of the ICAO global aeronautical distress and safety system.

Lockheed unit wins $154m deal for navigation system upgrade

Lockheed Martin Corp.’s Rotary and Mission Systems (RMS) segment recently secured a contract for providing U.S. and U.K. Trident II (D5) Strategic Weapon System Shipboard Integration Increment 8 as well as Columbia and Dreadnought efforts for the navigation subsystem. Through this contract, the company will provide the required navigation hardware and software design, testing, installation and deliverables for the shipboard integration increment. It will also deliver correlating fleet support services for the current fleet ballistic missile navigation subsystem. In particular, the contract will provide U.S. and U.K. Inertial Navigation System and gyro modification and repair, Columbia navigation subsystem development and material procurements, modernization efforts for shipboard integration program, including U.S. and U.K. trainer maintenance and development.

GLONASS 2.0 to receive Firmware Update in 2018

The signal interface control document for GLONASS will be updated in 2018, making radio signals to the satellite navigation system less susceptible to corruption as they pass through the atmosphere, satellite producer Reshetnev Information Satellite Systems has announced.

According to the developers, the new firmware will better account for tropospheric and ionospheric refraction, drastically improving the precision of location measurements. The company says the updated control document will help reduce interference by as much as 70-80%.

Russia offers UAE to use its Glonass navigation technologies

Russia is offering the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to use Russian Glonass navigation technologies, the press service of the Russian ministry of industry and trade said recently after Minister Denis Manturov’s talks with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

“The crown prince agreed to think about the offer from the Navigation and Information Systems cellular operator on cooperation in the sphere of the use of Russian Glonass satellite navigation technologies in the interests of the UAE’s socio-economic development,” the press service said.

Defendants in GLONASS-M embezzlement case receive prison terms

Four men have been convicted of embezzling about 400 million rubles (about $7 million) allocated for GLONASS-M satellite vehicles, the press service of Moscow’s Ostankinsky District Court has told RAPSI.

Top managers of companies Russian Space Systems and Mercury, Igor Krylov, Vitaly Tolmachev, Alexander Polyakov and Aleksey Diorditsa have been sentenced to prison terms ranging from 4 to 6 years.

As previously reported, the defendants have embezzled budget money under contracts concluded between Mercury company and Russian Space Systems for supplies of details for GLONASS-M satellites.

GPS tracking as alternative to jailing migrants

Border enforcement officials are looking at using a voice-reporting system that can confirm a caller’s identity and track geographical location as an alternative to jailing those who breach Canada’s immigration law. Expanded electronic supervision tools such as the use of GPS electronic monitoring will be piloted in the Greater Toronto Area, said the Canada Border Services Agency, and could come as early as April.

Canada’s immigration detention system has been under intense public scrutiny since 2016 after a series of deaths of detainees in immigration custody.

Building of GPS timing backup

Senate lawmakers have introduced a bi-partisan bill giving the Department of Transportation (DoT) responsibility for launching a GPS timing backup and a two-year deadline to set it up.

Sponsored by Senators Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, the National Timing Resilience and Security Act of 2017 (S 2220) would put a stop to interagency maneuvering over which organization is stuck with developing, managing and, most importantly, paying for the new system.

The bill has been assigned to the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of which both Markey and Cruz are members. Cruz has taken an interest in securing a backup, questioning Diana Furchtgott-Roth about it during the November 1 hearing on her nomination to be assistant secretary for research and technology at the DoT — a key position for position, navigation and timing (PNT) policy. Furchtgott-Roth told Cruz she would work with him on a GPS backup and on a possible public-private partnership to fund its development. Such a partnership, which has long been proposed, could help limit the financial commitment of the government and is clearly allowed by the legislation.

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