Iridium, Nav Canada JV to help track planes in real time

Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:55am EDT
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By Sagarika Jaisinghani

(Reuters) - Satellite communications company Iridium Communications Inc (IRDM.O: Quote) entered into a joint venture with Nav Canada to allow air traffic authorities such as the U.S. Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) to track aircraft around the globe in real time.

The joint venture, to be named Aireon LLC, will be headed by Iridium's Executive Vice President Donald Thoma, the company's Chief Executive Matt Desch told Reuters.

Nav Canada, an Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSP) which provides air traffic control, flight information and weather briefings, will be Aireon's first customer, Desch said.

"I hope the FAA is our second customer," the CEO added.

Aireon will pay Iridium about $200 million by 2015 to get hosted payloads into space.

Hosted payloads allow customers to have their own dedicated space on a satellite.

CEO Desch declined to say how much Aireon will add to revenue after 2015, but said the amount "will not be insignificant."

Air traffic authorities need to keep aircraft widely-spaced due to the lack of radar visibility over oceanic airspace. Aireon will provide complete visibility to all aircraft everywhere, helping ANSPs decrease inefficiencies.   Continued...