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November 21, 2012

Nav Canada invests in satellite-based aircraft tracking JV

Canadian civil air navigation service provider Nav Canada has agreed to invest $150m in Aireon, which was formed to develop satellite-based aircraft tracking technology.

Iridium NEXT constellation

Canadian civil air navigation service provider Nav Canada has agreed to invest $150m in Aireon, which was formed to develop satellite-based aircraft tracking technology.

Nav Canada will invest the money in five tranches through 2017, taking a 51% stake in the joint venture, with Iridium Communications the other partner.

Aireon will provide solutions to air navigation service providers (ANSPs) to continuously track aircraft black boxes that supply real-time information anywhere in the world.

The aircraft surveillance solution will be provided through Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) receivers installed on Iridium NEXT satellites.

ADS-B receivers are planned to be integrated as additional payload in the Iridium NEXT, which would be a constellation of 66 satellites, scheduled to be launched by Iridium between 2015 and 2017.

The global aircraft surveillance system will help in expanding air traffic surveillance to more regions of the globe, allowing aircraft to fly longer in better weather conditions, reducing fuel burn and carbon emissions while increasing passenger safety.

With the Aireon solution, aircraft will be able to opt for the best altitudes and routes with the expansion of airspace surveillance, which was only limited to less efficient procedural separation earlier.

"Nav Canada will invest the money in five tranches through 2017, taking a 51% stake in the joint venture, with Iridium Communications the other partner."

Nav Canada president and CEO John Crichton said despite the progress being made around the world, the surveillance is limited by the geography of the world’s oceans, and by mountain ranges and remote areas that are difficult to reach.

"Aireon promises to circumvent these geographical barriers, extending the benefits of ADS-B surveillance far beyond what was previously thought possible," Crichton said.

"In addition, the Aireon partnership opens the door to collaboration with other air navigation service providers in other parts of the world."

Nav Canada will also participate in Aireon as a customer, to deploy the satellite-based surveillance solution in its North Atlantic airspace operations, which is said to be the busiest airspace with 1,200 flights per day.

An agreement will be signed under which Aireon will supply ADS-B surveillance data to Nav Canada.


Photo: Iridium NEXT would be constellation of 66 satellites which are planned to be launched by Iridium between 2015-2017. Image: courtesy of Nav Canada/Iridium Communications.

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