The first flight to be monitored over Hudson Bay using new traffic surveillance technology has resulted in a 850,000km² gap in Canada’s radar coverage being eliminated, NAV Canada announced today.

The technology, known as automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast (ADS-B), was successfully tested on an Air New Zealand flight controlled from the Montreal Area Control Centre.

ADS-B combines satellite links, onboard equipment, ground stations, and communication links to provide air traffic controllers with information similar to that of radar.

Vice president of operations at NAV Canada, Rudy Keller said that ADS-B uses equipment onboard the aircraft to track its every move.

“It’s the surveillance system of the future because it’s more accurate than radar and much more affordable. ADS-B makes it possible for us to significantly improve service in remote locations like Hudson Bay,” Keller said.

NAV Canada estimates that the new surveillance system will provide customer savings of about 18 million litres of fuel a year and reduced C02 equivalent emissions of 50,000t a year, once all aircraft using this airspace are equipped for ADS-B.

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More savings are expected in the next few years for North Atlantic traffic as NAV Canada expands its ADS-B coverage over the eastern coast of Canada and parts of Greenland.

For aircraft using ADS-B airspace, cost savings are based on maximising airspace capacity and efficiency through reduced separation standards that allow aircraft to climb to optimal altitudes much earlier, and to follow more efficient routes to destination

To use ADS-B airspace, aircraft need to be equipped with the proper avionics. Air operators require Transport Canada approval before NAV Canada can accept their down-linked ADS-B data

Sensis Corporation is supplying NAV Canada with its ADS-B equipment consisting of an antenna, a receiver and a target processor installed at ground stations along the Hudson Bay shoreline.

The stations are connected to telecommunications links that send data to controllers at area control centres. The technology is digital, solid state, with no moving parts and a minimal support infrastructure.

By Daniel Garrun.