Aireon to Receive $120 Million Investment From Major Air Navigation Service Providers

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| Source: Aireon LLC

MCLEAN, Va., Dec. 20, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aireon LLC announced today that it has entered into a binding agreement with three major Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) to make a $120 million investment in the revolutionary new service that Aireon will provide. The new ANSP investors, ENAV (Italy), the Irish Aviation Authority, and Naviair (Denmark), are responsible for providing air traffic control service in some of the busiest airspace in Europe. With this agreement, combined with the previously announced $150 million commitment from NAV CANADA, Aireon is well positioned to build and launch the world's first space-based global air traffic surveillance system, extending Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) coverage and benefits to every flight path across the planet.

In addition, the new investors are expected to become long-term customers of the AireonSM data service and to participate in the global deployment and sales of Aireon's space-based ADS-B offering.

"We are excited to see continued interest from ANSPs in becoming both investors and commercial partners of Aireon, the first ever global air traffic surveillance service," said Don Thoma, President and CEO, Aireon. "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."

The investment in Aireon by the three additional ANSPs will be made in four tranches between 2014 and 2017 as key milestones are met, and will be in the form of preferred interests. The financing comes on top of the investments already made by the current joint venture participants, NAV CANADA and Iridium Communications Inc. In 2018, a portion of Iridium's interest will be redeemed for a payment from Aireon of $120 million to finalize the ownership interests. Upon this redemption, NAV CANADA will hold 51 percent of the fully diluted ownership of Aireon, ENAV will hold 12.5 percent, and each of IAA and Naviair will hold 6 percent ownership, with 24.5 percent being retained by Iridium.    

"ENAV is happy to invest in a service that will change the history of air traffic control, as Aireon will deliver significant value to the aviation industry through increased efficiency, extended safety, and reduced environmental impact," said Massimo Garbini, CEO, ENAV. "We are proud to join Aireon in this global venture as an investor, and ultimately endeavor to become a commercial partner and a customer of the space-based ADS-B service."

"Providing airlines with the most optimal trajectories and ensuring that they fly safely through our skies is paramount to our mission as an ANSP," said Eamonn Brennan, Chief Executive, Irish Aviation Authority. "Aireon will deliver significant benefits to airlines flying in remote and oceanic airspace all around the world. By joining together with NAV CANADA, ENAV, and Naviair, we are creating a network of partners that understand the importance of extending ADS-B coverage and benefits to every flight path across the planet."  

"For Naviair, Aireon represents the future of air traffic surveillance, and we are excited to play a role in deploying this technology on a global basis," said Morten Dambaek, CEO, Naviair. "We see a great potential and many opportunities in using the technology in connection with our future activities in Greenland - one of the world's largest Flight Information Regions (FIR) - where we are looking forward to improving the surveillance significantly."

"We are very pleased to welcome ENAV, the IAA and Naviair to the Aireon joint venture," said NAV CANADA President & CEO John Crichton. "Today's announcement is a strong endorsement of the core Aireon promise – to extend the benefits of air traffic surveillance over the world's oceans and remote areas, and in doing so to allow the world's airlines to achieve substantial fuel savings while reducing GHG emissions. In the North Atlantic airspace alone, space-based ADS-B should enable fuel savings of $125 million per year once the new capability is in place."

These agreements further exemplify the support that Aireon is receiving from leading ANSPs around the world. Recently, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and NAV CANADA signed a Declaration of Intent for cooperation on the implementation of space-based ADS-B in their respective airspace. Aireon fully expects to garner support from the FAA, as well as other ANSPs that can benefit from the global air traffic surveillance capability. Airlines that are members of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have also shown their support through participating in the first Space-based ADS-B Advisory Committee (SAAC), a group of key stakeholders from across the aviation industry that are tasked with providing input, guidance and critical operational insight to Aireon as it prepares for deployment.

About Aireon LLC

Headquartered in McLean, VA, Aireon LLC was formed to provide air navigation service providers with the capability to track aircraft anywhere in the world in near-real time, including the only coverage over oceanic, polar and remote regions. Aireon will harness the best of aviation surveillance advancements already underway and extend them globally in order to significantly improve the business of air operations through increased efficiency, expanded safety, worldwide integration and significant cost savings to airlines and ANSPs alike. For more information about Aireon, visit: www.aireon.com.

About ENAV

ENAV is the Company to which the Italian State delegates the management and control of civilian air traffic in Italy. Entirely controlled by the Ministry of Economy and Finance and supervised by the Ministry of Infrastructures and Transport, ENAV S.p.A. is a result of the transformation of the National Agency for Flight Assistance into a jointstock Company which occurred in 2000, after the previous transformation into a State-Controlled Enterprise in 1996. The organisational structure has its legal headquarters in Rome and operating facilities throughout the national territory. In addition, ENAV is present at Forlì with a headquarters for its own Academy. ENAV is a member of the international ATM (Air Traffic Management) system and therefore participates in research and development activities in coordination with the international control bodies for the sector such as ICAO, EUROCONTROL and for the trade (CANSO). In 2006, ENAV acquired 100% of Vitrociset Sistemi S.r.l., today Techno Sky S.r.l., thereby internalising the management and maintenance of flight assistance systems and their related software.

Since July 2012, SICTA (Innovative systems for air traffic control) is a member of the ENAV Group. SICTA is an ENAV Group consortium (60% ENAV - 40% Techno Sky) that deals with engineering activities concerning planning, prototyping, simulation and the pre-operation validation of Air Traffic Management scenarios and functionalities in Italy and abroad. ENAV in 2013 established a new company in Kuala Lumpur, ENAV Asia Pacific, with the aim to enhance the performances of clients based in the whole Asia Pacific region through the provision of our high quality services.

About Iridium Communications Inc.

Iridium (Nasdaq:IRDM) is the only mobile voice and data satellite communications network that spans the entire globe. Iridium enables connections between people, organizations and assets to and from anywhere, in real time. Together with its ever-expanding ecosystem of partner companies, Iridium delivers an innovative and rich portfolio of reliable solutions for markets that require truly global communications. The company has a major development program underway for its next-generation network – Iridium NEXT. Iridium Communications Inc. is headquartered in McLean, Va., U.S.A., and its common stock trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbol IRDM.  For more information about Iridium products, services and partner solutions, visit www.iridium.com.  

About The Irish Aviation Authority

The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) is a commercial semi state company employing approximately 670 people at five main locations in Ireland. The IAA is responsible for the provision of Air Traffic Management (ATM) in Irish controlled airspace (covering some 451,000 square km) and state airports, aeronautical communications on the North Atlantic, and the safety and security regulation of the civil aviation industry in Ireland. For more information please see www.iaa.ie

About NAV CANADA

NAV CANADA is the private sector, non-share capital corporation that owns and operates Canada's civil air navigation service (ANS). NAV CANADA co-ordinates the safe and efficient movement of aircraft in Canadian domestic airspace and international airspace assigned to Canadian control.  Through its coast to coast to coast operations, NAV CANADA provides air traffic control, flight information, weather briefings, aeronautical information, airport advisory services, and electronic aids to navigation.  ANS facilities include seven area control centres and 41 control towers. The Company also operates 56 flight service stations and eight flight information centres.  These facilities are supported by a network of over 1,000 ground-based aids to navigation located across the country. For more information, visit www.navcanada.ca.

About Naviair

Naviair provides safe and efficient aviation infrastructure in Denmark, Greenland and the Faroe Islands.  In Denmark the activities comprises en-route area control services in Danish airspace, approach control service to Copenhagen Airport, briefing service and Flight Information Services (FIS). This area also includes support and maintenance of radar installations and CNS equipment in Denmark.

Naviair also provides local Air traffic services (ATS) comprising aerodrome control service and approach control service at a number of airports in Denmark and Aerodrome Flight Information (AFIS) on the Faroe Islands. In Greenland the activities comprises briefing, FIS and SAR. The activities in Greenland and the Faroe Islands also includes technical support and maintenance of radar installations on the Faroe Islands and navigation and communication equipment on the Faroe Islands and in Greenland as well as surveillance in Greenland.

Naviair owns 50 percent of NUAC HB (Nordic Unified Air Traffic Control). NUAC provides integrated en-route area control services in the Danish-Swedish Functional Airspace Block from three control centers in Denmark and Sweden.

Naviair is an independent company owned by the Danish state and headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Ashley Eames
Iridium Communications Inc.
+1 (703) 287-7476