Aircraft tracking system provider Blue Sky Network on Nov. 20 announced FAA certification of its autonomous distress tracking (ADT) device on Boeing 737 airliners.

Blue Sky Network said its HawkEye ADT, granted approved model list supplemental type certificate (AML-STC) authorization for the 737 type, is the first device to comply with an upcoming international recommended standard for autonomous distress tracking.

The ICAO’s Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) construct requires that an aircraft in distress transmit position information once every minute. The standard is applicable to new production aircraft with a takeoff weight greater than 27,000 kg. (59,525 lbs.) as of January 2021.

The HawkEye ADT automatically reports aircraft 4D Global Navigation Satellite System position data via Iridium modem for normal operations and defined distress anomalies. The unit incorporates an attitude and heading reference system module that can autonomously determine a possible distress condition.

Position report messages are routed to an airline operations center using Blue Sky Network’s SkyRouter aircraft tracking software platform. The HawkEye ADT derives power from the aircraft’s electrical bus and contains a battery in the event of a power failure.

“We integrated advanced sensors and processors to allow independent determination of possible distress scenarios without the exclusive reliance on onboard aircraft systems—we made it autonomous,” said Jon Gilbert of Aircraft Tracking Solutions, a Blue Sky Network partner. “This stand-alone intelligent product will set a higher expectation level in commercial aviation for aircraft normal and distress tracking in alignment with GADSS compliance.”

Bill Carey