Aerospace information company Aireon has awarded ITT Exelis a $42 million contract to design and build the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) data processing and distribution platform for Aireon's global, space-based air traffic surveillance system.
ADS-B is the aircraft tracking system for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen. The system will use transponders on aircraft to transmit position and operational information via satellite to air traffic controllers worldwide.
Based in McLean, Virginia, Aireon is a joint venture between Iridium Communications and Nav Canada.
The contract calls for Exelis, an information technology and technical services company also based in McLean, to distribute air traffic data to air traffic control facilities worldwide that purchase data subscription packages from Aireon, according to an Exelis media release.
Exelis, which also provides Aireon with systems engineering services, will operate and maintain the system for 15 years, says the release.
"Aireon is pleased to extend our long-term relationship with Exelis, a leader in developing and operating air traffic surveillance systems," says Aireon president and chief executive Don Thoma in the release.
"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," says 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."
Exelis says Aireon's system will enable air traffic controllers to grant pilots more efficient flight levels and more direct routes.
Iridium and Nav Canada have said that they hope to start global air traffic surveillance by 2018 using the Aireon system.