Exelis has completed acceptance tests on a ground system for Aireon’s space-based automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B) technology.

The data processing and distribution ground system is designed to receive target data, process reports, and deliver them to designated air navigation service providers (ANSP).

Exelis civil and aerospace systems vice-president Ed Sayadian said: "The factory acceptance achievement formally verifies that all requirements and interfaces associated with the data processing and distribution ground system were met.

"This system is setting a foundational building block of a globally harmonised space-based air traffic management system."

Performed using the real-time software and hardware, the factory testing evaluated the ground system’s functional, performance and interface parameters and associated design verification methods.

Aireon’s ADS-B technology will use Iridium NEXT satellite constellation to continuously monitor aircraft and air traffic worldwide, including oceans, polar and remote regions.

"We are closer to making space-based ADS-B surveillance not only a concept, but a true reality."

Surveillance is based on an aircraft accurate vector of position and velocity, and broadcasting the data in short messages at regular intervals.

In the Aireon system, one or more payloads will capture data messages, which will be demodulated and decoded and sent to a centralised data processing unit through the Iridium NEXT constellation.

The ground data processing system will process the reports and provide them to appropriate ANSPs.

Aireon chief technology officer and engineering vice-president Vincent Capezzuto said: "Only months away from the first satellite launch, we are closer to making space-based ADS-B surveillance not only a concept, but a true reality.

"By collaborating with partners like Exelis, Aireon is one step closer to having a fully deployed space-based ADS-B surveillance system available globally in 2018."

Exelis already works on the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) NextGen initiative’s terrestrial ADS-B network, which was commissioned in March 2014.

Image: An illustration of global space-based ADS-B coverage. Photo: courtesy of Aireon LLC.