ITT Exelis (NYSE: XLS) has been awarded a $42 million contract by Aireon LLC to provide the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast ( ADS-B ) data processing and distribution component for its global space-based air traffic surveillance system.
Aireon, a joint venture between Iridium Communications Inc. and NAV CANADA, will take advantage of the hosted payload space on Iridium NEXT, Iridium’s second-generation satellite constellation, to enable fully global and continuous space-based monitoring and control of aircraft. Exelis will design and build the data processing and distribution platform, a critical component of the Aireon℠ system, and will operate and maintain the system for 15 years from first launch. This contract further extends the ongoing relationship between Aireon and Exelis, which also provides systems engineering services for Aireon.
“Aireon is pleased to extend our long-term relationship with Exelis, a leader in developing and operating air traffic surveillance systems,” said Don Thoma, president and CEO of Aireon. “With the combined expertise of Exelis and our partners, we are making significant strides toward deploying Aireon and revolutionizing the future of air travel. We look forward to working together to bring this powerful solution to market.”
Aireon’s space-based ADS-B solution will enable air traffic controllers to safely grant pilots more efficient flight levels and direct routing where ground-based surveillance infrastructure cannot be deployed cost-effectively. Air traffic surveillance will be available globally to Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs), including over oceans and remote regions where such surveillance is not currently possible.“We are truly excited to become a core partner in building Aireon’s revolutionary air traffic management capability. Exelis brings to the venture a full range of expertise required to build, operate and maintain Aireon’s mission-critical ADS-B data processing and distribution system,” said Pamela Drew, president of Exelis Information Systems. “Our commercial business model, which delivers ground-based air traffic surveillance as a service to the Federal Aviation Administration, serves as the foundation for Aireon’s innovative delivery method to ANSPs and airlines worldwide. Expanding this model to space-based surveillance is a natural evolution of our core air traffic management business.” Exelis will reliably distribute the ADS-B data to multiple air traffic control facilities of any ANSP worldwide that is interested in purchasing surveillance data subscription services from Aireon. Through this contract, Exelis will ensure that Aireon’s service seamlessly integrates with and extends existing ground-based services, setting a foundational building block for a globally harmonized space-based air traffic management system.