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NAV CANADA applauds international agreement on frequency allocation allowing for global tracking and air traffic surveillance

(Ottawa, November 13, 2015) – NAV CANADA commends the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for its decision to adopt a primary allocation of the 1090MHz frequency band for the reception by satellite of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) signals. The amendment to the Radio Regulations was approved on November 11 during the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15), in Geneva, Switzerland.

The 1090MHz frequency was already protected for aircraft to ground-based communications. The ITU decision expands the protection of that frequency to include aircraft to satellite, thus enabling space-based ADS-B for global flight tracking and air traffic surveillance.

“This is an important step that will enhance international aviation safety and efficiency,” said John Crichton, President and CEO. “We appreciate the tireless work of the Canadian delegation over the last two years in championing this issue at the WRC. The collaborative efforts of officials from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and Transport Canada have been commendable. Today’s decision enables us to move forward to make global real-time air traffic surveillance a reality.”

"Canada's Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development is pleased to have led Canadian stakeholders’ efforts to enable global flight tracking by providing spectrum for these vital systems,” said the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development. “This successful outcome at WRC-15 will mean improved safety and efficiency for airlines and their passengers around the globe."

While ADS-B technology is currently in wide use in many countries, its broadcasts can only be received where there are ground stations located within line-of-sight of an aircraft. Thus, there is no air traffic surveillance over the oceans and many remote or mountainous regions. Today aircraft air traffic control surveillance is limited to an estimated 30 per cent of the world’s airspace.

A solution to this gap will be the installation of ADS-B receivers on the new Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) Iridium NEXT satellite constellation which will be fully operational by late 2017, making global satellite ADS-B coverage operational in 2018.  Satellite-based receivers can capture ADS-B communications from aircraft located in polar, oceanic, remote and terrestrial regions throughout the planet.

The deployment of satellite-based ADS-B is being led by the company Aireon LLC of which NAV CANADA will be the ultimate 51 per cent owner.

Aireon is a partnership between four air navigation service providers, NAV CANADA, Italy’s ENAV, Ireland’s IAA and Denmark’s NAVIAIR, in addition to Iridium Communications. 

“Satellite-based ADS-B will increase real-time surveillance from 30 per cent to 100 per cent of the planet,” said Crichton, “A key advantage to the Aireon service is that it utilizes existing ADS-B aircraft capabilities without requiring aircraft retrofits. It represents a game-changing technological leap that promises to improve the way air navigation services are provided in much of the world.

“The ITU decision to provide the necessary spectrum allocation for 1090 MHz enables us to move forward on this important technology and addresses the goals of ICAO and IATA to implement a global flight tracking system in the wake of MH370,” concludes Crichton.

NAV CANADA is the country’s private sector civil air navigation services provider. With operations from coast to coast to coast, NAV CANADA provides air traffic control, flight information, weather briefings, aeronautical information services, airport advisory services and electronic aids to navigation.

For further information, please contact:
 
Michelle Bishop
Director, Government and Public Affairs
(613) 563-7520
 
Ron Singer
National Manager, Media Relations
(613) 563-7303
Media Information Line: 1-888-562-8226