Iridium Communications announced Aireon, a new company which will eventually allow air traffic management agencies anywhere on earth the ability to track aircraft anywhere else on the planet using ADS-B equipment that will be attached Iridium Next, to a new 66-satellite network scheduled to begin launching in 2015. Iridium Next is the updated replacement hardware for Iridium’s current satellite network.
A planned joint venture by Iridium Communications and Nav Canada promises to offer worldwide ADS-B-based air traffic surveillance services using the upcoming Iridium Next satellite network.
JetBlue’s LiveTV has selected Greenwich AeroGroup to distribute its OpenPort-Aero broadband satcom system, which runs on the Iridium network. Greenwich AeroGroup and its Atlantic Aero, Western Aircraft and Summit Aviation facilities will sell, install and support the systems, as will other Greenwich-approved service providers. The first installation should begin in the third quarter, leading to STCs for a variety of aircraft, including helicopters, turboprops and jets.
With a narrower pipe but greater reach for voice and data than its rival Inmarsat, the Iridium satellite network is becoming increasingly relevant for aircraft cockpits.
The Iridium satcom system received FAA approval for use as an Aeronautical Mobile Satellite (Route) Service so operators can use Iridium systems for over-ocean critical ATC communications. Iridium’s advantages over other communications systems include much lighter weight, lower power needs and coverage over the Earth’s poles. The FAA approval means that Iridium satcom can be used for Future Air Navigation System (Fans) 1/A communications.
The FAA has endorsed use of the Iridium satellite data service for air traffic control (ATC) communications in oceanic airspace, providing airlines and business jet operators with what is considered a low-cost solution for Future Air Navigation System (FANS) datalink messaging.
Now that Iridium has successfully completed the financing for its next-generation satellite constellation, called Iridium Next, the McLean, Va., firm is looking ahead to the fun part: building and launching an all-new network of dozens of cross-linked communications satellites.
Earlier this month Iridium reached a preliminary agreement for $1.8 billion to finance its Next constellation of advanced low orbit communications satellites, slated for launch beginning in 2015. A syndicate of nine international banks is providing the financing.
Owners of smartphones such as the BlackBerry and iPhone have been frustrated by the high cost of equipment that allows them to send and receive e-mail in-flight. TrueNorth Avionics is now offering an economical, compact, stand-alone product that plugs into any existing airborne telephone system and creates a Wi-Fi hot spot inside the aircraft that is compatible with most smartphones.
EMS Aviation is offering its Forté AirMail for a wide range of corporate aircraft. The FAA STC-approved, Iridium-based system provides worldwide Wi-Fi e-mail capability in flight using common Wi-Fi devices such as smartphones (BlackBerry and iPhone) and Wi-Fi-enabled personal digital assistants.