Jan 282016
 

global flight tracking of aircraft 8

An 8-year-old aviation enthusiast penned a letter to Delta Air Lines CEO Richard H. Anderson with an idea on how to track and recover missing aircraft lost at sea, as first reported by Consumerist, and later by Fox News and The Daily Mail (U.K.)Cover Photo Credit: Flightaware.com

Not only did the young inventor receive some notice from Delta, but also he was promised that his idea would be considered and forwarded on to experts addressing global flight tracking standards, including the new ones recently established on November 12, 2015 by the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization. 

Youngster Benjamin Jensen, of Ogden, Utah, son of two United States Air Force veterans, kept in touch with Delta’s CEO Anderson after viewing a television program called “Why Planes Disappear,” which highlighted the secret of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

“Benjamin has an interest with planes and aircraft, not particularly surprising, given his mom and dad has both served in the United States Air Force,” The Daily Mail (U.K.) praises of the boy’s creative endeavors.

Photo Credit: Delta Airlines CEO Richard H. Anderson

According to Consumerist, Benjamin expressed that he came up with a big idea to find crashed planes that plunge in the ocean. The young aviation inventor proposed that airlines could implement a crashed aircraft recovery system that mount inside the hull “ejectable neon orange balloon(s) that ascent up to the oceanic surface, when the plane crashed in the sea,” akin to what we saw in the blockbuster movie, Airport 77. The balloon(s) would not be sufficiently light to float up into the air, but just to the oceanic surface.

Photo Credit: Consumerist/Facebook

Moreover, Benjamin suggests the crashed aircraft recovery system of hull-mounted balloon(s) would have reinforced rubber to withstand a tremendous amount of weight. Additionally, the creative boy proposed airline companies could place a radio frequency transmitter in the balloon(s) to located them on the vast oceanic surfaces across the world and increase our chances in recovery of submerged aircraft hulls and wreckage debris on the sea floor.

Photo Credit; Consumerist/Facebook

Benjamin decided to sketch out his plan (shown above) – which involved giant orange balloon(s) inflating and floating to the surface in the event of a plane crash – and send it in a letter to Delta CEO Richard H. Anderson.

Young aviation enthusiast, Benjamin, got an answer from John E Laughter, Delta’s Senior Vice President of Safety, Security and Compliance, writing on behalf of Anderson, along with a care package of gifts from Delta, including a couple of model planes, marked pens, pencils, and so much more.

Photo Credit: Delta Airlines, Senior Vice President of Safety, Security and Compliance, John E Laughter

Photo Credit; Consumerist/Facebook

Delta Senior Vice President Laughter stated that he worked with numerous Delta people, The Federal Aviation Administration and airplane manufacturers to provide solutions to problems which include airline tracking during an emergency. He also included that there are many experts thinking about ideas just like young Benjamin sent to the Delta CEO and his team of leaders and mentors. He also assures that he will share the plan by the young boy inventor with other aviation safety experts around the world.

Read more about young Benjamin Jensen’s story inside Consumerist, and The Daily Mail (U.K.), and also inside Delta executives consider 8 year old’s idea to improve plane safety | Fox News.

New United Nations Standards for Global Flight Tracking of Aircraft is Here to Receive Young Aviation Enthusiast Benjamin Jensen’s Big Idea.

Commercial passenger air travel industry groups released a report on global flight-tracking recommendations and standards on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 with adoption by February 2015. 

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) held a news conference at its Geneva headquarters Wednesday, December 10, 2014, announcing the report recommendations on real-time global flight-tracking of aircraft for its 240 member airlines. IATA’s 240 member airlines encompass 84% of international passenger air traffic.

In February 2015, the United Nations International Civil Aviation Organization(ICAO) convened its High-Level Safety Conference in Montreal, Canada, and approved a concept of airline operations for real-time global flight-tracking of aircraft, and to move forward in developing global flight-tracking standards. Here is the planning report of recommendations from the ICAO High-Level Safety Conference in Montreal.

Photo Credit: Free Malaysia Today

ICAO published its Normal Aircraft Tracking Implementation Initiative (NATII) report in September 2015, regarding the structure of Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS), an initiative first proposed during the 2014 Multidisciplinary Meeting on Global Flight Tracking, according to Aviation Today, and the performance-based 15-minute aircraft tracking standard, first discussed during the February 2015 High Level Safety Conference in Montreal.

“NATII reporting group [at the Qantas Crisis Management Center in Sydney, Australia in June 2015 and the Montreal Communications and Aircraft Tracking Service Providers’ workshop in May 2015] has recommended extending the applicability period amongst the International Air Transport Association’s(IATA) 240 member airlines (comprising 84 percent of all international commercial passenger air travel) to 2018; And, the NATII reporting group determined that mandating airlines to maintain position reporting every 15 minutes could cause large-scale disruptions at times, when the tracking technology fails or becomes unavailable,” reports Aviation Today.

“High-frequency (HF) communications require fine tuning of the correct frequency prior to establishing contact. This takes time and, on occasion, it was determined would impede reporting at regular intervals,” the NATII report states.

The NATII group cautions further saying: “Additionally, manual reporting (i.e. VHF voice, HF voice, manual [Aircraft Communications and Reporting System] ACARS) introduced a level of uncertainty regarding the accuracy of the manual reports. In other words, the manual report could indicate that the aircraft was in one location, when it actually was in a different place.” 

Aviation Today added: “Satellite and communication service providers have indicated that the overall network capacity needed to facilitate continuous 15-minute flight tracking is not likely to be a limiting factor, according to the NATII document. However, the report does note that some service providers expressed a need to plan for the potential increased network traffic.”

Photo Credit: Space Safety Magazine

Be that as it may, ICAO reached agreement November 12, 2015 on its global flight-tracking standards with full international airlines industry application proposed by November 2016. 

Following the disappearance and tragic loss of Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777-200ER flight MH370 in March 8, 2014, with 239 people aboard, of which only a flaperon wreckage debris have been found on La Réunion Island off the southern coast of Africa on July 29, 2015, ICAO has agreed to using global satellite tracking for all international commercial passenger airlines. This has spurred worldwide discussions on global flight tracking and the need for coordinated action by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and various international aviation transportation technological organizations and trade groups.

The new global flight tracking standards call for countries to use specific radio frequencies for the monitoring of aircraft through satellites, rather than having to rely solely on radar-technology from the ground.

The target date for the full implementation of the new ICAO recommended technological standards is 2017, calling for aircraft capable of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) signals communicating with satellites for movement tracking.

Currently, aircraft only send transmissions to other aircraft and to different air traffic control stations, which limits the ability to pinpoint aircraft locations across the world, especially as they travel over extremely remote regions, like the Sahara Desert or the South American Amazon jungle, or over Transatlantic, Transpacific and Transpolar remote oceanic areas.

Photo Credit: WRC-15 Plenary Session on Global Flight Tracking of Aircraft

In terms of specifics, the United Nations ICAO reached its agreements on November 12, 2015 at the World Radiocommunication Conference 2015 (WRC-15) in Geneva, Switzerland. The conference was dedicated to the allocation of radio frequency spectrum for global flight tracking in civil aviation, and to setting global standards for technology used in communications. Moreover, participating nations at WRC-15 agreed to dedicate the radio frequency band 1087.7-1092.3 MHz for satellites and space stations to receive transmissions from aircraft. 

“In reaching this agreement at WRC-15, International Telecommunications Union (ITU) has responded in record time to the expectations of the global community on the major issue concerning global flight tracking,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao in a statement. “ITU will continue to make every effort to improve flight tracking for civil aviation.” ITU is the United Nations specialized agency for information and communication technologies.

According to their website, “World Radiocommunication Conferences (WRC) are held every three to four years. It is the job of WRC to review, and, if necessary, revise the Radio Regulations, the international treaty governing the use of the radio-frequency spectrum and the geostationary-satellite and non-geostationary-satellite orbits. Revisions are made on the basis of an agenda determined by theITU Council, which takes into account recommendations made by previous world radiocommunication conferences.”

By more specific definition (in reference to the illustrative depiction below for laypersons, via BBC News and CBC News), the frequency band 1087.7-1092.3 MHz has been allocated to the aeronautical mobile-satellite service (Earth-to-space) for reception by space stations of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) emissions from aircraft transmitters.

This radio frequency band 1087.7-1092.3 MHz is currently being utilized for the transmission of ADS-B signals from aircraft to terrestrial stations within line-of-sight. The World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) has now allocated this frequency band in the Earth-to-space direction to enable transmissions from aircraft to satellites. 

This extends ADS-B signals beyond line-of-sight to facilitate reporting the position of aircraft equipped with ADS-B anywhere in the world, including Transatlantic, Transpacific and Transpolar oceanic regions and other remote areas of the world. 

WRC-15 recognized that as the “standards and recommended practices” (SARP) for systems enabling position determination and tracking of aircraft are developed by the United Nations ICAO, the performance criteria for satellite reception of ADS-B signals will also require additional recommendations by ICAO. 

ICAO’s Global Operational Data Link Document (GOLD) defines Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) as a surveillance technique, that has been employed for 20 years to track aircraft across Transatlantic, Transpacific, and Transpolar oceanic regions, and that uses onboard aircraft systems to automatically provide position, altitude, speed, intent and meteorological data sent in a report to an Air Traffic Service Unit (ATSU) or Airline Operational Center (AOC) ground system for surveillance and route conformance monitoring. 

U.K.-based satellite service provider, Inmarsat, and Airservices Australia studies report that “ADS-C could be used to comply with the 15 minute normal global flight tracking requirement for suitably equipped aircraft.”

Consequently, “Airservices Australia has adopted the 14-minute reporting requirement as part of its standard operating procedure,” the Inmarsat-Airservices Australia report states. 

In ICAO’s special meeting on global flight tracking, which took place in Montréal, May 12-13, 2014, ICAO encouraged ITU to take urgent action to provide the necessary spectrum allocations for satellites to support emerging aviation needs. In October 2014, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference meeting in Busan, Republic of Korea, instructed WRC-15 to consider global flight tracking in its agenda.

“In reaching this agreement at WRC-15, ITU has responded in record time to the expectations of the global community on the major issue concerning global flight tracking,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “ITU will continue to make every effort to improve flight tracking for civil aviation.”

“The allocation of frequencies for reception of ADS-B signals from aircraft by space stations will enable real-time tracking of aircraft anywhere in the world,” said François Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau. “We will continue to work with ICAO and other international organizations to enhance safety in the skies.”

Of course, not all aviation tracking experts would agree with that. Regulators and airlines were criticized for their slow response time to French recommendations for tracking airlines after an Air France flight AF447 Airbus jet crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil in 2009.

The deadline for the installation of satellite tracking technology is set for a year from now in November 2016. Thereafter, aircraft traveling across the globe will send their location at least once every 15 minutes or more in the event of an aviation safety emergency and/or security breach via real-time satellite tracking.

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APPENDIX

Road Map to United Nations ICAO Global Flight-Tracking Standards (2014-2018), as chronicled in Aviation Week (edited for most recent standards updates).

March 8, 2014 • MH370 disappears from radar over the Gulf of Thailand en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China.

April 1, 2014 • Malaysian Minister for Communications and Multimedia called upon ITU to develop leading edge standards to facilitate the transmission of flight data in real-time. He was speaking at the opening of the ITU World Telecommunication Development Conference taking place in Dubai.

March 31- April 2, 2014 • International Air Transport Association (IATA) convenes Operations Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and creates Aircraft Tracking Task Force (ATTF) to focus on identifying near-term options for global tracking of aircraft, including a concept of operations (Conops).

May 12-13, 2014 • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) holds Special Meeting for Global Flight Tracking in Montreal, Canada, and reaches consensus to track all airline aircraft. • IATA agrees to early voluntary implementation; ICAO to develop standards in parallel, while developing global standard on a parallel track. • ICAO special meeting in Montréal encouraged ITU to take urgent action to provide the necessary spectrum allocations for satellites to support emerging aviation needs.

May 26-27, 2014 • International Telecommunications Union (ITU) holds Expert Dialogue on real-time monitoring of flight data in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. • ITU asked to provide necessary spectrum allocations for emerging flight-data monitoring needs and work with ICAO to implement it. Expert Dialogue on global flight tracking took place in Kuala Lumpur.

June 11-13, 2014 • IATA ATTF holds first formal meeting and launches effort to define current state of flight-tracking with member and non-member airlines, air navigation service providers.

September 2014 • IATA ATTF presents preliminary Conops for global flight-tracking to ICAO in Montreal, Canada.

October 2014 • ITU Plenipotentiary Conference meeting in Busan, Republic of Korea, instructed WRC-15 to consider global flight tracking in its agenda.

December 10, 2014 • IATA communicates ATTF findings to member airlines.

February 2015 • ICAO held high-level safety meeting in Montreal, Canada and approved Conops from ATTF and move forward in developing a global flight-tracking standard.

September 2015 • ICAO published its Normal Aircraft Tracking Implementation Initiative (NATII) report, regarding the structure of Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) and the performance-based 15-minute aircraft tracking standard.

November 11, 2015 • The frequency band 1087.7-1092.3 MHz has been allocated to the aeronautical mobile-satellite service (Earth-to-space) for reception by space stations of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) emissions from aircraft transmitters. The World Radio communication Conference is in session, 2-27 November at the International Convention Centre Geneva (CICG).

November 12, 2015 • United Nations reached the agreement at the World Radio Communication Conference in Geneva. The conference was dedicated to the allocation of radio frequency spectrum for global flight tracking in civil aviation, and to setting global standards for technology used in communications, and nations agreed to frequency band 1087.7-1092.3 MHz for satellites and space stations to receive transmissions from aircraft. 

November 2016 • ICAO to officially publish global flight-tracking standards for international airlines industry application.

2017 • Full implementation of the new ICAO recommended technological standards, calling for aircraft capable of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) signals communicating with satellites for movement tracking.

2018 • Normal Aircraft Tracking Implementation Initiative (NATII) reporting group has recommended extending the applicability period amongst the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) 240 member airlines (comprising 84 percent of all international commercial passenger air travel) to 2018.

2018 • According to Aviation Today: “The European Parliament is currently considering new measures to mandate flight tracking for aircraft operating within European airspace. In July, European Union (EU) member states approved a draft-implementing act that would establish new forward-fit flight tracking requirements on new production aircraft flying in European airspace. Existing aircraft would not be required to be retrofitted with technology to meet the new requirements.”

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