ADS-B Xplore - Exploring the viability of integrated applications including in particular the Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B)

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ADS-B, standing for Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, is an innovative surveillance technology allowing for high-precision, real-time and global air traffic surveillance data. It enhances safety, increases airspace capacity and improves flight efficiency. The ADS-B Xplore study investigates the technical, regulatory and economic viability of new service families within their dedicated ecosystems. 

  • openADS-B: enabling ADS-B big data and flight data mining applications. 
  • SatVAS: enabling voice communication - for every aircrafts, everytime and everywhere. 
  • AEREAS: enabling RPAS situational awareness and common airspace sharing with manned aircraft. 

The study comprises the identification of the user and stakeholder requirements, the definition of the service, the design of a suitable system architecture, the validation of critical service elements using a service mock-up, the analysis of the economic and non-economic viability and the recommendation of subsequent activities to prepare an operational service.

Users and their needs

openADS-B (big data applications)
The combination of real-time and historical air traffic surveillance data aggregated with meteo, geographical, earth observation and environmental data opens a immense potential applications such as trajectory monitoring, traffic statistics, flight  guidance, flight tracking, traffic prediction, alerting, wheather nowcast/forecast, aircraft operations optimization, ground operations optimization, asset tracking, ATM performance evaluation etc.

Users of such applications include general public, aeronautical service providers, logistics companies, general aviation, airlines, airports, OEMs, weather providers, ANSPs, insurances and public entities.
The common need is a low entrance hurdle to access and combine all needed information for a specialized application.
openADS-B aims to satisfy this need. 

SatVAS (global communication)
To exploit the full benefits of global air traffic surveillance, a global ATC-grade communication system is needed. The proposed solution closes an important gap between other existing and envisaged systems. The targeted user community consists of small carriers operating in remote aereas and General Aviation. Their need is a global, reliable communication system with a known operational concept at no costs for upgrades of their airframes. 

AEREAS (airspace sharing of manned and unmanned systems)
The expected growth of the UAV/RPAS/drone market calls for solutions to enable a safe coexistence of significant air space traffic. This becomes in particular relevant for air spaces shared between manned and unmanned traffic. A public infrastructure ensuring this safety is a public interest and is obviously not restricted to the actual airspace users. A global harmonization is a must to allow compliance to prospective regulations by the UAV/RPAS/drone user.

Service/ system concept

openADS-B (big data applications)

(credit: Atmosphere)

SatVAS (global communication)

(credit: TAS) 

AEREAS (airspace sharing of manned and unmanned systems):
Key of the proposed solution is the establishment of a dedicated ADS-B-like position broadcast system for UAVs/RPAS/drones above 2-5kg. This will enable geofencing,

collision avoidance and situational awareness among the drones. In addition, drones will receive ADS-B on 1090 Mhz to allow autonomous avoidance of manned air traffic.

Needed transponders can be built very compact (~10 g) and at affordable price (few 10€) to allow global equippage.

The elaborated service concept can be downloaded as white paper below. Key benefits are: safety increase, no need for dedicated infrastructure, worldwide harmonized system, defined interaction between manned and unmanned systems.

Space Added Value

All proposed services leverage on a real global availability of a space-based infrastructure and their derived data products. This is seen as the key asset to create added value in comparison to existing, mostly not harmonized terrestrial infrastructure.

Current Status

The User Requirements Review meeting (URR) has been successfully completed in in December 2017. The System and Service Definition Review (SSDR) has been successfully completed in June 2018. 

Project Managers

Contractor Project Manager

Dr. Felix Boehringer
Thales Alenia Space Deutschland, Thalesplatz 1,
71254 Ditzingen
+49 7156 353 28430

ESA Project Manager

Arnaud Runge
ESA/ESTEC, Keplerlaan 1
2200 AG Noordwijk

Status Date

Updated: 20 June 2018 - Created: 20 June 2018