Harris Delivers First Aireon Flight Payload

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Harris Corp. of Melbourne, Florida, has delivered the first flight payload for the Aireon aircraft navigation venture, which will use the Iridium Next satellite constellation to help airlines save money by flying more efficient routes.

The Harris-built Automated Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) payloads will be included on all 81 Iridium Next satellites, which are slated to begin launching in 2015. The space-based ADS-B transceivers will enable aircraft flying transoceanic and other remote routes — beyond the reach of ground antennas — to continue to relay their GPS-based position location data to air traffic authorities.

This will enable them to change their routes in midflight based on weather conditions and other factors that could help shorten flight times.

Aireon of McLean, Virginia, is a joint venture of Iridium Communications, also of McLean, and Nav Canada, which is Canada’s air traffic management authority. Several other national air traffic management authorities have agreed to invest in the venture.

The initial payload has been delivered to the Gilbert, Arizona, facilities of Orbital Sciences Corp., which is doing final integration and testing of the Iridium Next satellites.

“This achievement is a key building block towards a successful first launch in 2015 and moves Aireon one step closer to having a fully deployed space-based ADS-B surveillance system available for the aviation community beginning in 2017,” Don Thoma, chief executive of Aireon, said in a prepared statement.