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Airservices and Skykraft to trial space-based surveillance and communications

Airservices Australia has partnered with space services company, Skykraft, to support the development of a space-based communication and surveillance air traffic management capability.


Under the collaboration, Airservices will share its air navigation technical engineering and air traffic management expertise to support design, development, and validation of the system, as well as support Skykraft to conduct space-based proof-of-concept trials of the satellite constellation from June 2022.


Airservices Chief Customer Experience & Strategy Officer Peter Curran said Airservices was increasingly looking to the integration of space-based technologies to enhance air traffic management services.


“This is a great opportunity to support an Australian company develop new sovereign capability that has the potential to provide near continuous surveillance reporting and higher fidelity communications that not only benefits Airservices and our customers, but the global aviation industry,” said Curran.


“Space-based technologies provide significant opportunity to enhance safety, efficiency, predictability and capacity, while reducing overall infrastructure costs associated with the current ground-based networks.”


Skykraft Executive Chairman Air Vice Marshal (retd) Mark Skidmore said the partnership would support the rapid maturation of Skykraft’s satellite constellation which enables surveillance and communication with aircraft at all altitudes and across land and sea.

We look forward to continuing to work closely with Airservices to demonstrate Skykraft’s capability to deliver commercial space-based surveillance and communication technologies for air traffic management,” said Skidmore.


“Airservices’ understanding of the ATM requirements and needs will help us design and develop the constellation, as we prepare a 300kg payload for a SpaceX launch in June 2022, to commence our proof-of-concept trials, and strive towards a constellation launch in 2023.”


This collaboration builds on the December 2020 Memorandum of Understanding between Airservices Australia and Skykraft which saw the organisations establish how they will work together in a collaborative operating model.


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