NATS takes equity stake in Aireon

victoria@aviationnews-online.com
By victoria@aviationnews-online.com May 16, 2018 10:34

NATS takes equity stake in Aireon

The UK air traffic management service provider, NATS, has announced it has invested in Aireon, the company pioneering a space-based air traffic surveillance service. 

Through a network of 66 low earth orbiting Iridium NEXT satellites, AireonSM will monitor the location of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) equipped aircraft flying anywhere in the world, transforming the way air traffic control services are provided.  

The service will offer global air traffic surveillance of aircraft. This means that oceans and remote regions like the poles, deserts and mountainous areas will have real-time aircraft surveillance for the first time. 

The forecasted safety and airspace capacity benefits, together with the savings in fuel and carbon emissions, are being hailed as the greatest revolution in air traffic management since the introduction of radar 70 years ago. 

News of the $69 million USD investment, worth around 10% equity, was announced at a press conference in Washington DC, near Aireon’s headquarters, at which NATS also confirmed it is currently consulting with its customers about introducing the satellite technology for use over the North Atlantic starting with operational trials from 2019 to deliver the capacity and safety benefits that the airspace requires to keep pace with demand.

Martin Rolfe, NATS Chief Executive Officer, said: “This is a transformational technology that will deliver the world’s first truly global air traffic control infrastructure, making flying even safer and more efficient. 

“Investing in Aireon is the best way for us to shape the future of the service in a way that benefits our customers in the UK and elsewhere, and to demonstrate NATS’ commitment to playing a leading role in the development of the next generation of global air traffic technology.

“We’re currently consulting with our airline customers about how to best deploy this technology. The North Atlantic is the busiest area of oceanic airspace in the world and the gateway to Europe, but its routes have now reached their limit of capacity with existing technology, so we are delighted to now have a way to safely fulfil the ever growing demand from our customers. What is additionally exciting is that this same technology will also deliver fuel savings and CO2 reductions that will directly benefit airlines and their customers.”

Don Thoma, Aireon Chief Executive Officer, added: “We are ecstatic to welcome NATS to the Aireon investor family. NATS was among the first air navigation service providers to see the benefits of space-based ADS-B, and now it only makes sense that they would become a more formal part of Aireon. The enhancements Aireon’s space-based ADS-B service will allow in the North Atlantic are a game changer for the aviation industry and will connect North America and Europe unlike ever before.”

Marc Courtois, Chair of the Board of Directors for both Aireon and NAV CANADA stated: “Adding NATS to our ownership group further confirms what the industry has largely already realised, that Aireon is on track to fundamentally improve flight safety worldwide. The technology is real, the system is already performing beyond expectations, there are just a few more launches to go, and we are eager to start seeing the improved benefits to the aviation industry and the flying public.”

victoria@aviationnews-online.com
By victoria@aviationnews-online.com May 16, 2018 10:34