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​Space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B)​

Aireon is providing the first fully global air traffic service (ATS) surveillance system using a space-based
ADS-B receiver network hosted on the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation. 

With Aireon's space-based ADS-B, full, continuous global air traffic coverage will now extend to the 70 per cent of the world's airspace (remote, polar and oceanic regions) that previously had no access to ATS surveillance information.



In Space

The Iridium NEXT constellation consists of 66 Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites carrying the Aireon ADS-B receiver payloads. All 66 satellites are operational with 9 spares in storage orbits and 6 spare satellites available on the ground.

Each payload receives ADS-B messages from aircraft containing data sets that include position, speed and heading. These position reports are delivered to NAV CANADA within one second of their broadcast by the aircraft transponder.  

Each satellite orbits the earth once every 100 minutes, at about 780 kilometres above earth’s surface. They are linked to their closest neighbours in the constellation, creating a dynamic surveillance network.

​The Benefits

A full and accurate “real-time” view of every equipped aircraft means a significant leap in safety and situational awareness. 

Space-based ADS-B brings surveillance coverage to all airspace, including the Canadian North, supporting polar routes that provide shorter flight times for transcontinental flights, and in the North Atlantic, which connects Canada and the rest of North America to Europe and Asia.

Aireon’s global coverage will also allow rescue coordination centres to obtain GPS location and tracking data for ADS-B equipped aircraft in an alert, distress phase or emergency situation. 

NAV CANADA’s Approach

NAV CANADA is the first in the world to deploy space-based ADS-B domestically and the first to deploy it simultaneously with NATS, United Kingdom’s air navigation service provider and Isavia, the Icelandic Civil Aviation Administration—over the North Atlantic, the world’s busiest oceanic airspace. 

A three-phase implementation began in both Edmonton and Gander on March 25, 2019.


  • Phase 1: incorporated space-based ADS-B signals using a 5 Nautical Mile (NM) standard in airspace where there is already surveillance coverage and Very High Frequency (VHF) communication; 
  • Phase 2: enabled a reduced separation of 5 NM between aircraft in airspace currently without  surveillance coverage but with VHF communication; and 
  • Phase 3: in October 2019, enabled a reduced separation standard of 14 or 17 NM longitudinally and 15 or 19 NM laterally in non-VHF airspace, using Controller-Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC).


  • Phase 1: incorporated space-based ADS-B signals for domestic airspace; 
  • Phase 2: incorporated space-based ADS-B signals for oceanic airspace and commence trial with NATS and Isavia for reduced longitudinal separations of 14 or 17 NM plus 5 NM opposite direction, using CPDLC for communication; and 
  • Phase 3: in October 2019, enabled a reduced lateral separation standard of 15 or 19 NM for Gander oceanic airspace.

To learn more about Aireon, click here​. To access the joint Aireon Go-Live press conference, click here​.​