Irish Aviation Authority wins global safety award

Regulator’s system ‘literally saves lives’ says global aviation organisation

Air travel regulator, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has won a safety award for its use of a system that a global organisation says "saves lives".

The authority's Aireon Alert service, which uses satellite data to provide up-to-the-minute information on the location of aircraft, has won the Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO) Global Safety Achievement Award for 2020.

The award is given to organisations that made a significant contribution to safety which reduced aviation risk in the previous 12 months.

A team in the IAA's north Atlantic communications centre in Ballygirreen, Co Clare operates the alert service, developed by Aireon, a US company that makes systems for tracking aircraft. It provides the information to rescuers, regulators and air navigation bodies around the world.


Osman Saafan, CANSO safety standing committee chairman, said the IAA had "achieved a truly pioneering feat in aviation safety, turning all-new Aireon data into critical information for search and rescue services that is literally saving lives".

Don Thoma, Aireon chief executive, noted that the IAA had worked to ensure that the company's met standards for search and rescue.

Timely boost

Peter Kearney, IAA chief executive, described the award as a timely boost to the organisation "in recognition of the essential air navigation services that we continue to provide despite the current health crisis".

Aireon’s technology tracks the precise location of aircraft around the world, particularly in remote areas such as over the north Atlantic, where previously the only way of establishing their location was through radio communication with the pilots.