Skykraft raises $100m for space-enabled ATM system

Airspace Management
Australian firm to launch LEO satellites to track flights

Australian startup Skykraft, which is developing a space-enabled air traffic management service has completed a AUD$100 million funding round.

Skykraft’s air traffic management infrastructure includes a constellation of hundreds of satellites in low-earth orbit (LEO). This infrastructure will provide global ATM coverage with space-based VHF communications and surveillance,

The company wants the service to be used to enable aircraft to follow more efficient flight paths which will reduce operating costs and lower the flight’s environmental impact.

The company has successfully launched 10 satellites this year and plans to launch more satellites next year. It then expects to complete final in-orbit testing prior to the roll-out of the initial constellation of satellites in 2025.

The funding will be used by Skykraft to deploy its initial air traffic management (ATM) constellation in 2025.

“Skykraft’s space-based ATM capability will deliver on a clearly identified need in the global aviation  sector” said Dr Michael Frater, CEO Skykraft. “Our partners share our confidence that Skykraft will be the key player providing the next generation of air traffic management services to the world.”

According to Skykraft ATM efficiency gains are currently limited by the extent of ground-based infrastructure to provide surveillance capabilities and, equally importantly, the effectiveness of air traffic control communications. Skykraft will unlock significant efficiency gains and capability improvements by enabling this infrastructure from space.

Skykraft’s new investors include  Foresight Australia, the local subsidiary of the UK-listed fund manager with AUD$23.5 billion under management and OPTrust, one of Canada’s largest pension funds with net assets of almost AUD$28.5 billion.

The company said it is working with global Air Navigation Service Providers on service customisation to  ensure that the system design meets operational and safety requirements.