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Aireon partner invests $69 million in space-based aircraft tracking system

16 May 2018, 18:38 UTC
Aireon partner invests $69 million in space-based aircraft tracking system
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WASHINGTON — Aireon raised $69 million from a British partner, enabling the aircraft-tracking startup to begin making hosting payments to Iridium Communications.
NATS, the United Kingdom’s privatized air traffic management company, will take a 10 percent equity stake in McLean, Virginia-based Aireon under the deal announced here May 16.
“With this investment we will begin to make hosting fees to Iridium,” Aireon Chief Executive Don Thoma said at a press conference.
Aireon’s network of aircraft-tracking sensors is built onto the Iridium Next satellites as hosted payloads. The Harris-built sensors enable ADS-B, or Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast flight tracking, from space, extending flight monitoring beyond the reach of land-based radar stations.
Initially viewed as a means to support Iridium’s funding of the $3 billion Iridium Next constellation, Aireon’s business case has not closed as quickly as hoped. Iridium borrowed $360 million in March as a hedge against counting on Arieon, which owes Iridium $234 million in hosting fees.
“We’ve ensured that our liquidity is not reliant on expected payments from Aireon,” Iridium Chief Financial Officer Thomas Fitzpatrick said during an earnings call last month.
Thoma said Aireon will pay down the hosting fee “over the course of the ...

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