Aireon and South Africa’s Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) announced today that they have signed a Regional Commercialization Agreement to jointly develop the uses of space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data throughout the Southern part of the African continent.
The Regional Commercialization Agreement will establish the framework for facilitating the use of space-based ADS-B data in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region. The Agreement will leverage ATNS’s leadership role in the SADC as the operator of the regional VSAT network to distribute space-based ADS-B data to remote locations over satellite links, thereby extending the surveillance capabilities to regions where ground-based communications are prohibitive.
In addition to air traffic surveillance, ATNS will work with regional Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) to collectively use space-based ADS-B data to develop a regional flow control solution that will complement the existing SADC VSAT network. Regional flow control will result in substantial cost-savings and operational benefits to the airlines and ANSPs in the region.
"The signing of this commercialization agreement marks another milestone toward delivering global air traffic surveillance through space-based ADS-B, while fortifying the strategic partnership between Aireon and ATNS," said Don Thoma, chief executive officer, Aireon. "For the first time, the entire region will have access to real-time air traffic surveillance data, which in this region – given its vast land mass and oceanic airspace, will become a driving force for enhanced safety and operations."
Thabani Mthiyane, chief executive officer, ATNS added, "ATNS has always ensured that regional cooperation between ANSPs is promoted, enhanced and sustained. We now have an opportunity to bring the benefits of this technology to our region to leap-frog the industry. Africa has some of the most remote regions in the world, making this technology immensely valuable for those with limited infrastructure. We will now give them the option to have total air traffic surveillance, without the need to build anything on the ground. This might be a game-changer for the region."
The timing of this agreement coincides with Iridium’s recent completion of its first Iridium NEXT satellites. The first Iridium NEXT launch with SpaceX is scheduled for this summer, when the company will launch 10 satellites using a Falcon 9 rocket out of the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Iridium NEXT constellation is scheduled for completion by the end of 2017, and the Aireon service will be fully operational in 2018.