Over 75% of the ICAO Northern Atlantic region’s airspace now controlled based on real-time air traffic surveillance

On the 14th of June 2023, NAV Portugal started the operational usage of Space-Based ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) real time data, broadcast by every equipped aircraft and detected by Iridium’s global constellation of 66 satellites. Our business partner Aireon LLC forwards ADS-B data to NAV Portugal’s Oceanic Control Center (“OCC”) for processing in Santa Maria’s FIR (Flight Information Region), through its integration on this OCC’s Air Traffic Control System.

For the first time, a complete visibility of air traffic, based on surveillance information exists in Santa Maria FIR. Our Santa Maria FIR covers a total area of more than 5.1 million square kilometers, includes the Santa Maria OCC and the Control Towers of the airports from the Azores archipelago, being a busy FIR mainly for overflight traffic between Europe, North Africa, and the North, Central and South Americas.

The Space-Based ADS-B information flow, together with with NAV Portugal’s Ground-Based ADS-B, SSR radar and WAM (Wide Area Multilateration) systems, already available on the Azores and Madeira archipelagos, contributes to the increase of the safety levels already made available by NAV Portugal to all aircraft navigating through the Santa Maria’s FIR.

By adding Space-Based ADS-B surveillance information to the Santa Maria FIR’s Air Traffic Management system, over 75% of the ICAO Northern Atlantic region’s airspace is now controlled based on real time air traffic surveillance means, enhancing safety and offering more efficient Air Traffic Navigation services to airspace users.

“NAV Portugal is pleased to introduce such a relevant improvement in the surveillance systems supporting the Air Navigation Services in the Santa Maria FIR. The processing capabilities and technological solutions of our ATM system (SATL) used at the Oceanic Control Center in the Santa Maria island have been evolving over time, to respond to the long term air traffic increase . After the introduction of ADS-C, later complemented by ground station sensors, the operational use of the ADS-B information received by satellites covering the entire Santa Maria FIR area now begins.”, said Gonçalo Vale, Board Member of NAV, Portugal.