Irish Aviation Authority invests €20m in air traffic surveillance

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has invested €20 million for a 6% stake in Aireon LLC, a proposed space-based air traffic surveillance venture.

The system will use a network of 66 “Iridium Next” satellites to send and receive aircraft positional tracking data, making it possible to track planes accurately across the entire planet and is the first truly global air transport traffic management and surveillance system.

The IAA’s took the 6% stake is part of a binding agreement along with two other major air navigation service providers, ENAV (Italy) and Naviair (Denmark) to make a $120 million (€87m) investment in the new service.

IAA chief executive Eamonn Brennan said Aireon represented the future of air traffic surveillance and will benefit air traffic controllers and airlines.

“Aireon will deliver significant benefits to airlines flying in remote and oceanic airspace all around the world.

By joining together with Canada, Italy and Denmark, we are creating a network of partners that understand the importance of satellite based air traffic control and the benefits to every flight path across the planet,” he said.

A similar system in North America has achieved $125m savings in fuel costs for airlines.

The president and CEO of Aireon, Don Thoma, said that they were looking forward to working with their partners in making the satellite network a reality.

“By providing the capability to continuously track aircraft anywhere in the world, Aireon is poised to transform the aviation industry. We look forward to collaborating with our partners as we work to build the system, launch it into orbit and make Aireon a reality,” he said.

The investments by the air navigation service providers will be paid in tranches between 2014 and 2017 as key milestones are met. At the end of the process Nav Canada will hold 51% of Aireon, Enav will hold 12.5%, and IAA and Naviair will hold 6% ownership, with 24.5% being retained by Iridium Communications Inc.

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