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Satnews Daily
March 8th, 2017

500 aircraft agree... Iridium's Safety Voice replaces HF radio systems

"With more than 500 active air transport aircraft around the globe having already adopted Iridium’s Safety Voice service, we know that the industry is hungry for this technology.” 

Iridium Communications Inc.'s (Nasdaq:IRDM) Safety Voice service, that is used for air traffic communications, has been adopted by more than 500 aircraft as of February 2017, and it provides aircraft operators with an alternative to existing HF radio systems, replacing them with a secure satellite-based option for long-range communications. 

For a few years Iridium has seen substantial adoption of its aviation services with more than a 100 percent increase in active airframes using the Safety Voice service between 2015 and 2017.  The ability to add a satellite system using the Iridium network as an alternative to a second HF system has several benefits, including lower power requirements, lighter-weight equipment, and better quality and coverage, resulting in increased efficiency and fuel economy. 

In August of 2015, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) distributed an ‘Information for Operators’ (InFO) notice, alerting aircraft operators of the modifications required to comply with Policy Letter-106 which outlines how aircraft may operate with one HF radio and one satellite communications (SATCOM) platform over the West Atlantic Routing System (WATRS). The Iridium Safety Voice service features a dialing system requiring multiple user authentication steps for in-flight communications in addition to a call priority system, ensuring urgent communications are not interrupted.

"With more than 500 active air transport aircraft around the globe having already adopted Iridium’s Safety Voice service, we know that the industry is hungry for this technology,” said Brian Pemberton, vice president and general manager, aviation at Iridium. “With the launch of Iridium NEXT and Iridium CertusSM products, aircraft operators will soon have access to high quality, global and cost-effective satcom solutions, with unparalleled performance, that will positively impact their bottom lines.” 

Pemberton continued, “The Iridium Safety Voice service adds elements of safety, security and efficiency that are not available with traditional, high-frequency systems. Adding Safety Voice to the existing FANS 1/A data capability enables a full suite of long-range flightdeck safety communications for efficient and cost-effective air traffic control. The rapid adoption we’re seeing by the industry is a testament to its value.”

Iridium is currently launching Iridium NEXT, the company’s next-generation global satellite constellation.  All existing Iridium aviation services, including the Safety Voice service are compatible with the new constellation.

The first 10 Iridium NEXT satellites were launched into low-Earth-orbit from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on January 14, 2017.  Seven additional SpaceX launches are scheduled to take place over the next 12 to 15 months, delivering a total of 75 Iridium NEXT satellites to orbit, including the second launch now targeted for mid-June 2017.  In total, the operational Iridium NEXT constellation will consist of 66 satelliteswith nine satellites serving as on-orbit spares.