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International Journal of Navigation and Observation
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 973656, 5 pages
Research Article

The Flying Laboratory for the Observation of ADS-B Signals

1Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, The University of Western ON, 1151 Richmond Street, Suite 2, London, ON, Canada N6A 5B8
2Department of Physics, Royal Military College of Canada, P.O. Box 17000, Station Forces Kingston, ON, Canada K7K 7B4
3Defence R&D Canada—Ottawa, 3701 Carling Avenue, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1A 0Z4
415 Wing, P.O. Box 5000, Moose Jaw, SK, Canada S6H 7Z8

Received 14 June 2011; Accepted 22 August 2011

Academic Editor: Gyu-In Jee

Copyright © 2011 Raymond Francis et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) is a system in which aircraft continually transmit their identity and GPS-derived navigational information. ADS-B networks for air traffic monitoring have already been implemented in areas around the world, but ground stations cannot be installed in midocean and are difficult to maintain in the Arctic, leaving a coverage gap for oceanic and high latitude airspace. A potential solution for worldwide tracking of aircraft is through the monitoring of aircraft-transmitted ADS-B signals using satellite-borne receivers. To investigate this possibility, a high altitude balloon experiment was carried out in June 2009 to determine if ADS-B signals can be detected from near space. The Flying Laboratory for the Observation of ADS-B Transmissions (FLOAT) was the first stratospheric platform to collect ADS-B data. The FLOAT mission successfully demonstrated the reception of ADS-B signals from near space, paving the way to the development of a space-based ADS-B system.