PNG adopts Aireon satellite system for air traffic surveillance

Max Blenkin

Papua New Guinea has chosen a space-based air traffic surveillance system to allow 100 per cent real-time surveillance of aircraft in the Port Moresby Flight Information Region (FIR).

PNG adopts Aireon satellite system for air traffic surveillance
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Previously, PNG Air Services Limited (PNGASL) relied on ground-based infrastructure for its surveillance capability.

However, because of PNG’s extremely mountainous and difficult terrains and unpredictable inclement weather, it has been a challenge for PNGASL to efficiently install and effectively maintain ground stations.

In an attempt to resolve the geographic constraints on existing ground-based surveillance, PNGASL turned to local third-party communications links but power supply disruption and service outages made that unreliable.

But that’s not a problem for a space-based system.

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PNG has now signed an agreement to deploy the Aireon space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) air traffic surveillance service.

Captain Ted Pakii, PNGASL chief executive and managing director, said this was a significant milestone for PNGASL as it continuously strived to provide the highest standards of air traffic safety and efficiency.

"The Aireon surveillance data will strengthen all operations overseeing our FIR, from improving our controller's workload and broadening their capabilities, to facilitating user-preferred routes for our customers," he said.

“Additionally, Aireon's technology will facilitate seamless services for the aviation industry in PNG and within the region and enable more accurate positioning for search and rescue operations among other benefits."

Within the next few months, PNGASL will have real-time air traffic surveillance over the Port Moresby FIR.

That shares common borders with Brisbane FIR, managed by Airservices Australia, the Oakland Oceanic FIR, managed by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Ujung Pandang FIR, managed by AirNav Indonesia.

Don Thoma, chief executive of Aireon, said deploying space-based ADS-B surveillance technology in the Port Moresby FIR solidified PNGASL's position as a leader of regional aviation safety and efficiency .

“We are certain that these benefits will extend to the greater Asia Pacific," he said.

"PNGASL plays a significant geographic role, being a main thoroughfare for traffic going from the north to the south and vice-versa. They are looking to provide the best-in-class services to their customers and stakeholders and real-time oceanic and terrestrial air traffic surveillance will absolutely accomplish that."

PNGASL is a state-run enterprise that began operations in 2008, providing air navigation services to domestic and international operators using PNG airspace.

Aireon is a US-based company that has deployed a space-based air traffic surveillance system for ADS-B equipped aircraft around the world. That uses the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation.

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