Aireon Signs 12-Year Data Services Agreement With NATS for Global Air Traffic Control Surveillance

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MCLEAN, Va., Feb. 27, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Aireon LLC, the developer of the world's first space-based global air traffic surveillance system, announced today that it has signed a 12-year agreement for data services with NATS, the U.K.'s privatized provider of air traffic control services and a leading provider of air traffic management in the North Atlantic, Europe and internationally. This agreement demonstrates the growing momentum of Aireon's space-based ADS-B surveillance in enhancing air traffic management and, together with Aireon's other customer agreements, will provide greatly enhanced coverage over the North Atlantic, the busiest oceanic airspace in the world.

In addition to the new agreement, NATS will also be a charter Air Navigation Service provider (ANSP) of Aireon, working closely with NAV CANADA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the technical and operational development of space-based ADS-B services. In this capacity, the three organizations will work on the development of common requirements for the service, including the development of policies, standards and operational procedures.

NATS and Aireon have also signed a commercial agreement to collaborate in the marketing and deployment of Aireon's space-based ADS-B services in other global regions and to develop new value-added applications for aviation and air traffic management using AireonSM services.

NATS is a progressive ANSP that understands the potential value to its customers in providing near-real time surveillance over oceans and remote territories through the use of satellite-based navigation. With more than 50 years of experience, NATS provides air traffic management services in the busy Shanwick Oceanic Flight Information Region, servicing over 1200 oceanic flights per day. In the busy airspace over the North Atlantic alone, Aireon believes that the technology could enable fuel savings of $125 million per year through more efficient flight paths, resulting in significant cost savings for the airlines.

"Aireon is excited to welcome NATS as a charter ANSP customer of Aireon, further extending the benefits of space-based aircraft surveillance to airlines that travel through the busy North Atlantic airspace," said Don Thoma, president and CEO, Aireon. "Under this relationship, NATS will use its wealth of air traffic management and operating experience to bring leadership and insight to the deployment of Aireon in the North Atlantic and globally, helping to unlock the true potential of global air traffic surveillance."

Martin Rolfe, NATS Managing Director of Operations commented: "NATS is always looking to improve the service that we can offer our customers. Space-based navigation is an extremely exciting development for our industry, and this is a perfect opportunity to explore how we best make use of the technology and further increase the value we deliver to airlines."

Tim Bullock, NATS Director of Supply Chain, added: "Together we have established an excellent basis for our relationship, and we are now looking forward to working with Aireon to understand and develop the full potential of their technology."

NATS is also part of the Space-Based ADS-B Advisory Committee (SAAC), which was formed by Aireon in 2013 to gather industry experts from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the airlines, aviation organizations and ANSPs around the world, with the mission of providing input, guidance and critical operational insight to Aireon as it embarks upon deploying the revolutionary global surveillance service.

Thoma continued, "Since launching in June 2012, Aireon has completed agreements with five customers, and we continue to see great interest from ANSPs all over the world. The benefits of the service have the potential to revolutionize air traffic management over oceanic and remote regions, and we expect to see additional ANSPs coming on as new customers as we move closer to operational deployment."

Aireon is a joint venture between Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM), 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 2015. This new capability is a quantum leap from today's land-based systems, extending air traffic surveillance to the entire planet and offering untold opportunity for the safety and efficiency of air travel over oceanic and remote regions.

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 NATS

NATS is the UK's leading provider of Air Traffic Management (ATM) services, handling 2.1 million flights in 2012/13, covering the UK and eastern North Atlantic. NATS provides air traffic control from centres at Swanwick, Hampshire and Prestwick, Ayrshire. NATS also provides air traffic control services at 15 UK airports including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Birmingham, Manchester, Edinburgh and Glasgow; at Gibraltar Airport and, in a joint venture with Ferrovial, at a number of airport towers in Spain.

Building on its well-established reputation for expertise and innovation, NATS is growing its business worldwide, and now has contracts in more than 30 countries. NATS offers aerodrome, data and consultancy solutions to customers including airports, air traffic service providers and Governments. There is more information on the NATS website at www.nats.co.uk.

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

Source:Aireon LLC