The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has certified Aireon to provide surveillance services in support of aircraft separations, the first such approval, the company announced June 4.

The EASA certification, which designates Aireon as an air navigation service provider (ANSP) organization, culminated a three-year evaluation of the company’s satellite-based automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) system. It confirms the performance of Aireon position data for use in safety-critical air traffic control surveillance services.

Aireon, based in McLean, Virginia, is a joint venture company of Iridium Communications and ANSPs Nav Canada, UK NATS, the Irish Aviation Authority, Enav of Italy, and Naviair of Denmark. It uses ADS-B receiver payloads on Iridium Next satellites to track transponder-equipped aircraft over oceans and remote regions, supplying the surveillance data to ANSPs that subscribe to its service.

The company officially declared the system operational in early April, following the deployment of the final set of second-generation Iridium Next satellites into orbit in January. Nav Canada and UK NATS started an operational trial using satellite-based ADS-B to maintain and reduce separations of aircraft crossing the North Atlantic Ocean in late March.

The EASA certification process addressed the system’s compliance with the European Union (EU) regulation applicable to air traffic management and air navigation service (ATM/ANS) surveillance provision. The safety authority conducted a series of audits, examining Aireon’s management processes, the system’s development and verification, software assurance, operational processes and technical support, said Manfred Dieroff, EASA section manager for ATM/ANS standards, implementation and oversight.

“EASA’s certification, the first of its kind for a provider like Aireon, is just the beginning,” said chief technology officer and VP-engineering Vincent Capezzuto. “This is not only a validation of our processes, procedures and safety-case in the EU, but it also establishes a robust safety case that can be used outside of the EU and throughout the world.”

Bill Carey,