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Isavia is implementing a new surveillance technology named ADS-B for air navigation services in the southern part of the Reykjavik Control Area, i.e. Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Greenland south of the 70th parallel north (70°N). ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast) and is an advanced system that enables ADS-B equipped aircraft to transmit their GPS position and other data at a very frequent rate, including identification, altitude and velocity. The signal is received by ground stations, which relay it to the Reykjavik Area Control Centre where the information is displayed to air traffic controllers in a form similar to radar data.

The advantages of ADS-B over radar data include greater accuracy and more frequent aircraft position updates (every 0.5–2 seconds compared with every 5–12 seconds for radar). The equipment required to receive ADS-B signals is also less expensive than radars, both in terms of capital and operating costs. It follows from cost-efficiency considerations that ADS-B equipment can be installed in more locations than radars.

ADS-B will enable Isavia to improve its services to aircraft to a level not previously possible. In Greenland, the need for oceanic separation between aircraft will be eliminated as air traffic controllers will be able to use tactical air traffic control, thus allowing for more favourable aircraft altitudes and routing. Our ADS-B service will shorten flying times for aircraft in the Reykjavik Control Area and thus cut fuel costs for airlines. Shorter flying times will mean less fuel burn and lower CO2 emissions. Eight ADS-B ground stations are being installed in Iceland, which will ensure a reception range of at least 250 nautical miles from land. The aim is to install ground stations on the following mountain tops:

  • The Bláfjöll mountain range near Reykjavík
  • The Reykjanes Lighthouse on Mt Bæjarfell
  • Mt Bolafjall at Bolungarvík
  • Mt Þverfjall between the fjords Önundarfjörður and Skutulsfjörður
  • Mt Viðarfjall at the west end of the fjord Þistilfjörður
  • Mt Gunnólfsvíkurfjall at the north end of Bakkaflói bay
  • Mt Háöxl at Fagurhólsmýri
  • Mt Háfell at Vík í Mýrdal

In addition, four ADS-B ground stations are planned in the Faroe Islands and ten in Greenland.

ADS-B ground stations in Iceland and the Faroe Islands will improve surveillance accuracy and safety. To ensure optimal range, we plan to use a combination of radars and ADS-B ground stations.

In Greenland, the new technology will revolutionise air traffic services by enabling surveillance of en-route flights. In parallel with the installation of ADS-B ground stations in Greenland, VHF radio transmitters and receivers will be installed to ensure direct communications between air traffic controllers and aircraft.

To be able to use ADS-B services, aircraft must be equipped with ADS-B transmitters connected to the aircraft’s positioning system. The percentage of aircraft emitting usable ADS-B signals has been growing at a steady pace since Isavia started monitoring the equipage rate in early 2006. In December 2011, 70% of aircraft passing through the Reykjavik Control Area were ADS-B equipped. This excludes domestic flights and aircraft flying to/from Iceland, for which the rate is lower.