Aireon Announces Closing of First $50M Investment From Major Air Navigation Service Providers

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MCLEAN, Va., Feb. 18, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aireon LLC, the developer of the world's first space-based global air traffic surveillance system, announced today that it has closed the previously announced investment transaction with three new investors and major Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs): ENAV (Italy), the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), and Naviair (Denmark), and has received their first tranche investment totaling $50 million. As previously-disclosed, the new investors will contribute a total of $120 million between 2014 and 2017 for equity in Aireon. With these investments, combined with the $150 million investment from NAV CANADA, Aireon expects to be able to meet the capital requirements to build and launch the Aireon system.

"We are pleased to have ENAV, IAA and Naviair officially join Iridium and NAV CANADA as partners in Aireon," said Don Thoma, president and CEO, Aireon. "By bringing together four major ANSPs as investors, partners and advisors, Aireon is poised to revolutionize air traffic management and the aviation industry as a whole. The expertise and value our new investors will bring to this project is unmatched, and we are excited to sign them on as future customers of the AireonSM service."

In conjunction with the closing of the initial investment, the new investors signed long-term data services agreements to become customers of Aireon and are expected to participate in the deployment and marketing of Aireon's space-based ADS-B offering globally. Aireon will also add two representatives of the new investors to its Board of Directors, and the equity of the company will be amended as follows: Iridium will retain approximately 75.2 percent ownership, NAV CANADA will retain 17.3 percent ownership and the new investors collectively hold approximately 7.5 percent ownership in Aireon. 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.

Aireon is a joint venture between Iridium Communications Inc., NAV CANADA, ENAV, IAA, and Naviair, established to launch the Aireon system by hosting ADS-B receiver payloads on Iridium NEXT, Iridium's second-generation satellite constellation, scheduled for first launch in early 2015. This new capability will extend the benefits of current land-based air traffic surveillance systems, which are estimated to cover less than 10 percent of the world, to the oceanic and remote regions of the entire planet.

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, reduced GHG emissions and significant cost savings to airlines and ANSPs alike. For more information about Aireon, visit: www.aireon.com.

About ENAV S.p.A

ENAV, the Italian Air Navigation Service Provider, provides control and support to allow approaches, departures and landings from the control towers in 40 airports spread over the national territory, and en route services from the four Area Control Centers. ENAV manages more than 1,6 million flights per year, with peaks that can reach 6,000 flights per day. The ENAV Group consists of Techno Sky, responsible for the operational management, the support, the maintenance and the hardware/software development of entire range of systems and equipment used to provide flight assistance services, and Consortium SICTA that creates research projects for systems relative to air traffic services. 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. ENAV Group can count on about 4,000 employees. ENAV continues to invest in modernization, new technologies and professional training. ENAV is a component of the European ATM (Air Traffic Management) system and it participates with full rights in all the activities of development, operational validation, research and coordination with systems that are perfectly integrated with the international technological context.

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 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 profitable commercial semi state company employing approximately 650 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) as well as aeronautical communications on the North Atlantic. The IAA operates one of the most modern ATM systems in the world and safely manages over one million flights every year. The IAA is also responsible for safety and security regulation of the civil aviation industry and ensures that Irish civil aviation operates to the highest international safety standards. Its regulatory functions include aircraft airworthiness certification and registration; the licensing of pilots, air traffic controllers, radio officers and aerodromes licensing and aircraft maintenance organisations; aviation security oversight; and the approval and surveillance of air carrier operating standards and of general aviation. The IAA receives no OPERATIONAL or CAPEX funding from the State, its revenues are generated through charges and fees, which are amongst the lowest in Europe, raised from its regulatory clients and airline customers in respect of its regulatory and operational activities. 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 comprise briefing, FIS and SAR. The activities in Greenland and the Faroe Islands also include 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.

CONTACT: Ashley Eames Iridium Communications Inc. +1 (703) 287-7476 Ashley.eames@iridium.com

Source:Aireon LLC