German air navigation service provider (ANSP) Deutsche Flugsicherung (DFS) has signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) to evaluate the safety and cost benefits of Aireon’s automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B).
Under the terms of the MoA, DFS will evaluate options for optimising the replacement of expensive equipment on the system.
Further proposals will include the establishment of an independent contingency service for improved redundancy and a consistent air traffic surveillance feed.
DFS planning and innovation director Ralf Bertsch said: “DFS is keen to explore the potential benefits that space-based ADS-B can bring to the region. This is not only for enhanced safety, but also increased efficiency.
"It could provide us with another layer of surveillance in the event of an outage or interruption.”
DFS controls air traffic surveillance coverage throughout German airspace via a mix of ground-based radar, ADS-B and multilateration stations.
Aireon aviation services vice-president Cyriel Kronenburg said: “In countries like Germany, which consists of mostly terrestrial airspace, space-based air traffic surveillance can serve an extremely beneficial role as a contingency system, as well as provide cost savings on existing technologies.
“Maintaining the necessary ground stations in areas with minimal supporting infrastructure is an expensive and challenging proposition, especially when some can require round-the-clock maintenance due to age.”
Aireon’s space-based ADS-B service is set to be operational in 2018, after the completion of an Iridium NEXT satellite constellation comprising 66 low-earth-orbit satellites.
By providing ANSPs with global aircraft surveillance capability, the service is expected to help reduce fuel costs, increase safety and enable more flight paths.