2019 is over, and what a ride! As expected, it was a transformational year for the company! We started the year on the Path to Operations and we ended up deeply immersed in all that it means to be operational. It is a major accomplishment!
As I mentioned in the final All Hands meeting of the year, sometimes we lose sight of the bigger picture when we have our heads down doing our day to day tasks of the company. But when we pick our heads up, it is quite amazing to reflect on what we accomplished in a year and more importantly what we have learned.
We went into 2019 with a lot of pieces in place to be successful, but none of them were battle-tested. First, we had to contend with the challenge that our last launch was slipped to early January. Unfortunately, our two largest customers had time constraints on the other end. They needed to get the service in front of the air traffic controllers by April so they could get time on the system before their busy season in the summer. We took on that challenge and worked closely with NAV CANADA and NATS to complete the test and validation cycle in an efficient manner to ensure the performance of the system for operations. We had to do all of this in the context of the need to ensure adherence to stringent safety requirements. We didn’t do it alone - the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and our investors were a major help.
We also created a safety management system (SMS) from scratch and embedded it on all of our company’s processes from development, to operations, to HR and finance. Then we opened the books and let EASA test us on how well we subscribed and adhered to the SMS. This was an extremely detailed process that ended up with Aireon being the first-ever, non-ANSP to receive a certification for surveillance services in both an oceanic and en-route environment. A major accomplishment and bar we set for ourselves that gets raised every day.
Prior to March, operations were somewhat of an academic exercise for us. We did an amazing job creating a library’s worth of operating processes and procedures from scratch. Although we had the opportunity to test them out prior to March, we did not test them under fire until we were live and working with live air traffic environments. This is where the real learning began for us. Live operations demonstrated both the impact we were providing to our customers, but also areas where we needed to improve. We again were lucky to have investors, partners and customers help us through that process. It identified areas of our system, processes, procedures and communications that needed enhancing to deliver this mission-critical service. We embraced each of these challenges and worked as a team to implement the solutions to improve network robustness and availability.
The impact we had on our customer operations and services to the airlines and flying public was just as rewarding. In a short time period, the Aireon service became an indispensable tool for the controllers of NAV CANADA and NATS. They started to demonstrate the full potential of Aireon by delivering the more efficient altitudes, more efficient speeds and enhancements to safety (like reducing the time that aircraft inadvertently fly at the wrong altitude from 50 minutes to 5 minutes over the same period last year!)
On the customer front, we completed 9 ISATs, started revenue flowing from NAV CANADA and Enav and signed five new customers: Airports Authority of India (AAI), COCESNA (representing Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Belize), Papua New Guinea Services Limited (PNGASL), ASECNA exercised their option for the Dakar Oceanic airspace, and the FAA is activating the Miami Oceanic airspace. That brings us up to 15 customers representing 36 countries. One of the highlights of the year for me was the Aireon ANSP Customer Summit, where our ANSP customers shared with everyone their plans for Aireon. The most memorable part of the presentations was how our customers described our team and what we do.
“Controllers on a daily basis are saying how great space-based ADS-B data is. I can’t imagine what would happen if we took the technology away from them.”
“While the aircraft tracking update was expected to take 8 seconds, in some cases, we are seeing targets in 4 seconds and less.”
“There are huge safety benefits with space-based ADS-B.” “……a lost Australian bush aircraft was located within an area less than the size of Washington’s national mall.”
“The Aireon team is one of the best vendors we have ever worked with.”
On the commercial data services front, FlightAware has notified us that they now have over 5,500 aircraft under contract from over 140 airlines and aircraft operators. They are a meaningful part of our business. Aireon ALERT has been in operation for almost six months now. We now have over 341 active registrations, across 303 organizations and 119 countries. To date we have received 19 requests for data, data available provided on 10 occasions.
In 2019 we saw our team grow in multiple dimensions. We are now 72 people strong, representing a wide variety of disciplines. More importantly, we have grown as a team, both within our own personal disciplines and how we work together to help Aireon live up to its full potential.
We should always ask ourselves, “Are we demonstrating the key values that will make us successful? Are we Safety-minded, Mission Critical, Customer Centric, and Care about our team?” I think 2019 shows that we are well on our way and have a solid foundation for future success at Aireon.
We should all be proud of our successes in 2019 and be ready to use that learning to make 2020 an even more successful year. I thank everyone for all you have done for Aireon. I wish you all a healthy, happy New Year and I look forward to working with all of you in 2020.