The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Aireon have successfully conducted the flight test of space-based automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) technology.

The test was carried out to collect ADS-B data to be used as part of a larger validation effort evaluating the system's capability from low-earth orbit.

To conduct the flight test, the FAA deployed its specially-equipped ‘flying laboratory’ Bombardier jet, N47, with three Aireon payloads available to receive data.

A total of 2,462 ADS-B messages were both received and decoded providing comparable data to that of terrestrial ADS-B stations.

"This test further exemplifies the FAA's and NextGen programme's commitment to improving air traffic safety and efficiency for global aviation."

Besides being well planned, the trial was accurately located and timed within the Washington and New York Flight Information Regions (FIRs) to enhance validation of the capabilities of the Aireon system.

The flight test, which was made possible by the FAA's NextGen programme, involved trials of 125W top and bottom-mounted antennas on the US agency’s ‘flying laboratory’ aircraft.

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The N47 is specially incorporated with highly-calibrated antennas, flight-data test equipment and recorders.

Based out of the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center in Atlantic City, New Jersey, US, the N47 Bombardier jet helped commence the assessment and verification of the performance of the Aireon system, particularly in high-interference and high-density environments.

FAA Surveillance and Broadcast Services systems engineering lead / test director Andy Leone said: “The Aireon / Harris team has built a system that has huge potential for improving services for many around the world who lack some surveillance or advanced separation tools, and we are independently validating that their space-based ADS-B service meets FAA established performance requirements for broadcast surveillance.

“This test further exemplifies the FAA's and NextGen programme's commitment to improving air traffic safety and efficiency for global aviation.”

The space-based ADS-B system will be operational next year, after completion of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation.

The Aireon system will provide air navigation service providers (ANSPs) with global air traffic surveillance and airlines with real-time flight tracking.