NEW DELHI: Come next January and India will be able to know the exact position of aircraft flying over the vast stretches of Indian Ocean falling in airspace of its own as well as that administered by it, every 30 seconds. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has tied up with American company Aireon that with its partners provides space-based global air traffic surveillance system. On land, planes equipped with automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) systems beam their positions to ground-based receivers every few seconds.

India has 30 such receivers, which, in turn, send the positional data to connected ATC monitoring systems, giving exact position of aircraft. But when over the vast ocean, air traffic controllers (ATC) get only a rough idea of position of aircraft.

All Iridium NEXT satellites will include the Aireon hosted payload, which will enable the first truly global aircraft tracking and surveillance capability

"From next January, aircraft with ADS-B system will beam their exact position every 30 seconds to satellites of Aireon system, which will then send the data to our ATC systems in real time. Thus even over ocean we will know exactly where an aircraft is. We will roll out this system in airspace that we monitor and offer it free of charge to airlines flying and overflying there. That will vastly improve the quality of service that Indian ATC offers," Vineet Gulati, member (air navigation services, and head of AAI's air traffic control told TOI.