Space-Based ADS-B: Performance, Architecture and Market Options
In the last several years, Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B), has achieved significant traction with Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) and the worldwide aviation community. Compared to ground-based radar, ADS-B offers greater accuracy and consistency, lower costs and shared situational awareness. However, “traditional” ADS-B lacks coverage over oceans and remote areas. The satellite industry is now responding to this capability gap and market need with a range of existing and proposed space-based Air Traffic Services (ATS) to augment or replace ground-based ADS-B. This paper provides a market assessment of space-based ATS surveillance and Aircraft tracking systems. ANSP requirements are also examined and performance factors, such as availability, latency, update intervals and system resilience, are compared across existing and emerging ATS providers. Various space-based system architectures are also evaluated, including: Low Earth Orbit (LEO) constellations with intersatellite linked satellites, LEO constellations with “bent pipe” communication to ground stations, and Geostationary (GEO)/Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) with bent pipe communication to gateways. The paper also compares the strengths and weaknesses of potential space-based ATS systems and provides a realistic assessment of existing players and market options based upon compatibility with existing aircraft equipage, coverage, ground station networks, performance and costs. Although the market for new space-based ATS services is still developing, it will eventually become a critical element for ATS surveillance. Against the impending deadline of FAA’s rule, which requires aircraft ADS-B Out equipment to be operational by January 1, 2020, the paper also examines the viability of existing, emerging and potentially game changing satellite-based ATS market entrants.