Iridium Communications Inc.
Jul 11, 2011

U.S. FAA Authorizes Airlines' Use of Iridium for Oceanic Air Traffic Control Communications

Major Milestone Toward Giving Airlines Cost-Effective Solutions for Oceanic Controller/Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC)

MCLEAN, Va., July 11, 2011 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Iridium Communications Inc. (Nasdaq:IRDM) announces that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will authorize aircraft operating in oceanic airspace to use its satellite data service for critical air traffic control communications. This marks completion of the FAA process evaluating aircraft flying in airspace under its jurisdiction to use Future Air Navigation System (FANS) 1/A over Iridium (FOI) to meet communications requirements for air traffic control. The decision is an important milestone in providing corporate and commercial aircraft a cost-effective alternative for implementing FANS 1/A communications. Iridium's fully global coverage provides the aviation industry with an attractive alternative for long-range voice and data communication systems.

"Iridium is a natural choice for aviation safety communications because of our high reliability; global coverage; small, lightweight hardware and the significant cost savings to aircraft operators," said Matt Desch, CEO, Iridium. "After five years of study, validation and extensive in-flight testing, we are thankful to all stakeholders that participated in this achievement — including the FAA's Performance-based Operations Aviation Rulemaking Committee Communications Working Group (PARC CWG), our extensive ecosystem of aviation partners, participating airlines, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics (RTCA). We believe the FAA's decision validates our position as the optimal satellite service for aircraft operational communications, and opens up significant new opportunities for Iridium in the aviation market. FOI, when implemented, has the potential to enable aircraft operators to reduce their capital investment by half."

In a letter to the FAA, Dave Nakamura, PARC chairman, wrote, "The global air transportation system will benefit from FANS 1/A over Iridium (FOI) as it provides a practical alternative for Air Navigation Service Providers (ANSPs) to expand data link service and for commercial and business aviation markets to equip their fleets more quickly. FOI hardware is a significantly lower cost solution than other Aeronautical Mobile Satellite (Route) Service (AMS(R)S) alternatives. Iridium-based equipment is easier to retrofit, draws less power, is lighter in weight, and provides global coverage, including the Polar Regions."

In a response to Nakamura, Margaret Gilligan, FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, wrote, "The FAA accepts FOI as a viable means for air traffic service communications, particularly in accordance with performance specifications for reduced oceanic separations based on automatic dependent surveillance-contract (ADS-C)." Gilligan added, "The Air Traffic Organization (ATO) will take appropriate action to remove restrictions on FOI operations in its oceanic airspace. The FAA will also advocate removal of any restrictions imposed by other air navigation service providers. FAA aircraft certification and flight standards offices will continue to certify aircraft with FOI installations..."

Noting other important elements of the FAA decision, Damien McCormack, portfolio director, SITA commented, "This use of FOI operations would enable air traffic controllers to reduce separation zones and enhance operational efficiency without compromising safety, and has the potential to result in reduced emissions and fuel usage through more efficient routing of aircraft. In addition, airlines would benefit from global and cost-effective communications coverage that enables them to leverage preferred routes."

The FAA accepted the recommendations of the PARC following satisfactory completion of a year-long operational evaluation of FOI technology. Other ANSPs are expected to follow the FAA's lead and accept Iridium as a viable option to meet communication needs in their own airspace in the near future. This FAA recognition marks one more milestone as Iridium wins broad acceptance in commercial aviation as a key component of any cockpit communications solution. Iridium's aviation industry partners, and their myriad products and services, play a key role in increasing Iridium's aviation customer base, which is now already more than 25,000 subscribers.

About Iridium Communications Inc.

Iridium is the only mobile voice and data satellite communications network that spans the entire globe. Iridium enables connections between people, organizations and assets to and from anywhere, in real time. Together with its ever-expanding ecosystem of partner companies, Iridium delivers an innovative and rich portfolio of reliable solutions for markets that require truly global communications. The company has a major development program underway for its next-generation network — Iridium NEXT. Iridium Communications Inc. is headquartered in McLean, Va., U.S.A., and trades on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the ticker symbols IRDM (common stock), IRDMW ($7.00 warrants), IRDMZ ($11.50 warrants) and IRDMU (units). For more information about Iridium products, services and partner solutions, visit www.iridium.com.

Forward-Looking Statements 

Statements in this press release that are not purely historical facts may constitute forward-looking statements as defined in the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding the development of the markets for Iridium's aviation products, increases to Iridium's aviation customer base, and the benefits of Iridium's aviation products and anticipated approvals by air navigation service providers. Other forward-looking statements can be identified by the words "anticipates," "may," "can," "believes," "expects," "projects," "intends," "likely," "will," "to be" and other expressions that are predictions or indicate future events, trends or prospects. These forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Iridium to differ materially from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, uncertainties regarding Iridium's ability to develop new products, obtain necessarily regulatory approvals to offer new products, address new markets and maintain the health, capacity and content of its satellite constellation, and the development of and transition to Iridium NEXT, as well as general industry and economic conditions, and competitive, legal, governmental and technological factors. Other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those indicated by the forward-looking statements include those factors listed under the caption "Risk Factors" in the company's Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2010, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") on March 7, 2011, and in the company's Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2011, filed with the SEC on May 10, 2011. There is no assurance that Iridium's expectations will be realized. If one or more of these risks or uncertainties materialize, or if Iridium's underlying assumptions prove incorrect, actual results may vary materially from those expected, estimated or projected. Iridium's forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this press release, and Iridium undertakes no obligation to update forward-looking statements.

CONTACT: Press Contacts:

         

         Marie Knowles

         Iridium Communications Inc.

         +1 (703) 287-7476

         marie.knowles@iridium.com

         

         Jim Rhodes

         Rhodes Communications

         +1 (757) 451-0602

         jrhodes@rhodescomm.com