CAAS inks deal to enhance Singapore's aircraft tracking capabilities

Air traffic controllers working inside the Changi Airport control tower. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Air traffic controllers working inside the Changi Airport control tower. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has joined hands with United States-based Aireon to enhance aircraft tracking capabilities over air space managed by Singapore air traffic controllers.

The deal was signed in Montreal, Canada, where the United Nations' civil aviation arm is holding a four-day meeting which started on Monday. The meeting will address aircraft surveillance gaps and other issues affecting the industry following last year's mysterious crash of a Malaysia Airlines jet. Wreckage of the plane has not been found.

In a joint release on Thursday, CAAS and Aireon said they had signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to enhance aircraft tracking in the Singapore Flight Information Region (FIR).

The collaboration aims to enhance surveillance coverage over the air space with the deployment of a space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance - Broadcast (ADS-B) service.

This includes evaluating current requirements, developing policies, standards and procedures, and determining how best to implement this service.

Currently, some parts of the Singapore-managed air zone are not under surveillance coverage, such as remote areas and over the oceans.

In such areas, air traffic controllers must provide a larger separation between aircraft to ensure safety of the aircraft and passengers, CAAS said.

With the deployment of the new technology, the real-time positions and en-route status information of all ADS-B equipped aircraft flying within the air space can be tracked.

The ability to track all aircraft is one consideration to allow for the safe reduction in separation between aircraft, thus increasing airspace capacity.

CAAS director-general Yap Ong Heng who inked the deal said: "We are constantly looking for new and innovative solutions to enable us to provide better air traffic services in the Singapore FIR. This new space-based ADS-B capability represents the next level of surveillance capability and will complement our existing ground-based air traffic surveillance systems.

" This technology together with the right operational procedures can potentially enhance flight efficiencies and help reduce fuel costs for airlines," he added.

"This agreement is an extremely important step forward in ensuring safe, efficient and cost-effective air navigation services on a long-term, sustainable basis," said Mr Don Thoma, president and chief executive of Aireon.

"Singapore is a leader in air traffic management deployment and implementation, and we will be working closely with CAAS to explore and define how Aireon's capabilities can greatly improve aviation operations in the Singapore FIR and the region," he added.

karam@sph.com.sg