Australian aviation technology business SkyNet Satellite Communications reveals private

BHP HOUSE, MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA, 24 May 2019 – Private ADS-B tracking now brings precision, savings, safety and security for aircraft fleets of all sizes.

At the Flight Safety Foundation in Melbourne, Australia, Jon Davis, president and CEO of SkyNet Satellite Communications, briefed the foundation’s Technical Advisory Council on a solution that allows fleet operators of any size to track their planes, helicopters and ships using a private ADS-B network.

“Public ADS-B has been replacing radar services for some time, however the public ADS-B receiver distribution model has left gaps in coverage for regional and low-traffic areas. Private ADS-B can solve this,” Davis said.

Further, he explained that the public ADS-B network offers little privacy or security for operators who do not want their fleet movements to be public knowledge.

“At SkyNet, we have developed a low-cost way to bridge these gaps. We have been deploying private ADS-B receivers for clients in remote areas and then helping them leverage the data generated through a unique suite of IT solutions.”

Speaking to a full room, many of whom represented the private fleets of resources companies, Davis outlined SkyNet REACH, the private ADS-B solution his team has developed.

It offers position reporting on a 1-second update for a radius of up to 250 nautical miles (460km) around each private ADS-B receiver. Unlike public ADS-B, the aircraft tracked by this private receiver are only visible to the private SkyNet network.

While precision aircraft tracking beyond the public ADS-B network is already available via satellite positioning, tracking on 1-second updates is not technically possible.

“We are not reinventing the wheel with untested concepts here. What we are doing is efficiently, reliably and effectively augmenting the coverage of existing satellite and public ADS-B networks.”

A proven solution

Private ADS-B is a proven solution. Several operators already rely on their own private SkyNet ADS-B receivers in coastal Australia, the Timor Sea and Papua New Guinea.

In these locations the equipment and accompanying IT solution are performing flawlessly in conditions ranging from desert, to offshore rigs, to tropical jungle. The next location set to receive a SkyNet ADS-B receiver is the freezing wilderness of Tasmania.

Real-life applications

In a real-life case, Davis used the example of a flight from the regional Mackay Airport (IATA: MKY) on Queensland’s coast to the resources hub of Moranbah Airport (IATA: MOV), 150km inland.

Currently, at roughly halfway, the flight leaves public ADS-B network coverage and is forced to rely on satellite positioning. This means, in the remaining 75km, it might only give its position 6 times.

Moreover, the point where the flight leaves public ADS-B coverage coincides with it crossing the Great Dividing Range and therefore entering the higher operating risk airspace above Australia’s sparsely populated interior.

“If the flight’s operator had just one private ADS-B receiver for the second half of the route, the aircraft could report its position, altitude and speed on 1-second intervals across the entire flight,” Davis said.

Under SkyNet’s solution, this level of private ADS-B coverage would be available at a flat monthly cost that’s a fraction of satellite bandwidth fees.

The role of a private ADS-B network

Davis gave his presentation immediately after another speaker who outlined how the advent of satellite communications and tracking had decreased the number of aircraft losses. With the room primed to hear about real-world applications of this technology, Davis explained how ADS-B fits into today’s operating landscape.

“Currently, there are three type of ADS-B network providers,” Davis said.

“The first is regulators, such as Air Services Australia. The second is a volunteer contributor network (VCN) made up of various organisations and hobbyists who have an ADS-B receiver. The third is a private ADS-B network like ours.

“Organisations like Air Services Australia do what they can and do it quite well, but their networks are limited. Meanwhile, members of a VCN are spread out much further, but often have no service obligations at all to those who use and rely on their ADS-B receiver. It’s not hard to see that running a safety monitoring platform on a VCN is dangerous.

“Commercial-grade operators need commercial-grade services with the right coverage and the right quality of service. That’s where private ADS-B comes in.”

Scalable and efficient

A private ADS-B solution is also scalable, meaning the number and placement of receivers is carefully worked out using a coverage audit. The receiver hardware itself is inexpensive and offers options for data backhaul via ethernet, 4G and WiFi.

Through SkyNet REACH, private ADS-B owners can still view all the public ADS-B data plus the status of their own flights, including: on-time performance, turn reporting, ETAs, maintenance requirements, crewing status, minimum equipment lists and engineering planning. SkyNet REACH is a day of operations platform where private ADS-B data is critical for real-time flight following.

Further, by inexpensively doing all the ‘heavy lifting’ of position reporting, the private ADS-B network frees up a whole communications channel on an aircraft’s satellite modem for transmitting more voice, data and duress alerts – including HUMS data.



Who is Jon Davis

Jon Davis is the founder and CEO of SkyNet Satellite Communications. He has been delivering flight safety solutions for nearly 20 of his 25 years in the aviation industry. His company, SkyNet Satellite Communications, was one of the first in the world to develop satellite services for medium to light aircraft. The Davis family has been involved in signals technology for over 150 years.

What is SkyNet Satellite Communications

Founded in Brisbane, Australia, in 2001, SkyNet Satellite Communications is an IT developer and communications solutions business specialising in navigation, monitoring and tracking aircraft, ship and commercial vehicle fleets. It also offers world-class technology solutions in internet of things (IoT), personal safety and workplace health monitoring.

What is the Flight Safety Foundation

The Flight Safety Foundation is an independent global organisation that promotes aviation safety best practice. Its operations cover research, education and advocacy. Its near 1000 global members include national airlines, the military, corporate fleets, aircraft manufacturers, government departments, research bodies and professional associations.

/Public Release.