24 Aug 2015
Passengers flying across the Pacific Ocean between Australia, New Zealand and the United States can feel secure that their flight will be more frequently tracked due to close cooperation between Airservices Australia, Airways New Zealand and the United States’ Federal Aviation Administration.
In addition to boosting confidence in air travel, the aircraft tracking improvements will provide tangible benefits for airlines, by maximising the use of existing aircraft equipment to provide improved safety standards.
Since the end of June, Australian, NZ and US air traffic controllers have used existing Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Contract (ADS-C) technology to track aircraft across the Pacific Ocean every 14 minutes, more than halving the previous tracking interval of every 30-40 minutes.
This means flights in this region will meet the intent of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) recommendation of tracking oceanic flights every 15 minutes or less.
“It is rewarding to see Airservices close cooperation with NZ and US result in this extra boost to passenger confidence in the safety of flying over vast expanses of oceans such as the Pacific,” Airservices Executive General Manager Air Traffic Control, Greg Hood said.
Airservices Australia was one of the first to trial more frequent satellite flight tracking, conducting an initial proof-of-concept trial in late January. The 14-minute standard was extended to all Australian airspace by the end of May and Airservices has been working closely with its neighbours to enable a seamless implementation across the Pacific.
Airways New Zealand introduced enhanced tracking at the end of May while the Federal Aviation Administration followed suit within US Pacific airspace at the end of June. Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation has recently implemented more frequent aircraft tracking within its airspace using the same technology.
As well as achieving safety benefits, more frequent tracking will allow controllers to provide a higher level of service to flights, including more efficient routing around poor weather to minimise passenger delays and reduce fuel consumption and emissions.
Airservices will continue to work closely with our near neighbours such as Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia to continue building satellite tracking coverage in the Pacific region.