Irish Aviation Authority invests in satellite venture

Aireon partnership will bring space-based air traffic management services to the globe

The Irish Aviation Authority has said its involvement in Aireon would allow it to enhance its services to its airline customers. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

The Irish Aviation Authority has said its involvement in Aireon would allow it to enhance its services to its airline customers. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA Wire

 

The Irish Aviation Authority is bidding to enter the global market for air traffic management by taking a 6 per cent stake in Aireon, a company that uses satellites to monitor air traffic.

The authority is one of five partners involved in the $400 million technology project. The others are US satellite operator Iridium Communications and the air navigation service providers Nav Canada, Italy’s Enav and Denmark’s Naviair.

The IAA, Enav and Naviair have committed an investment of $120 million between them. Nav Canada has invested $150 million and by 2018 it will hold the majority stake in the venture.

The Aireon system uses surveillance technology installed on a network of 66 Iridium satellites. The satellites are capable of receiving and sending tracking data for aircraft, making it possible to extend coverage across the planet.

It is on course to become the first fully global air transport traffic management and surveillance system and will have particular benefits for airlines flying in remote and oceanic airspace.

The satellites will be launched in 2015, with the Aireon service becoming available from 2018.

The Irish authority said its involvement in Aireon would allow it to enhance its services to its airline customers. “Providing airlines with the most optimal trajectories and ensuring that they fly safely through our skies is paramount to our mission,” said IAA chief executive Eamonn Brennan.

“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.”

The technological advances are likely to save airlines significant fuel savings, which are estimated at €100 million for North Atlantic airspace alone.

Aireon, which has its headquarters in Virginia in the US, 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.