Australia’s Skykraft secures A$100 million investment to transform air traffic management

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Artists Impression of Skykraft satellite

Singapore SA2024Skykraft, a space-enabled air traffic management (ATM) service provider, has completed a planned funding round. This investment will provide over A$100 million to take Skykraft through to the deployment of the initial air traffic management 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.”

Globally, the aviation sector is facing increasingly congested skies while relying on legacy systems constrained by ageing ground-based infrastructure. 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;
  • OPTrust, one of Canada’s largest pension funds with net assets of almost AUD$28.5 billion;
  • Main Sequence, Australia’s deep tech investment fund founded by Australia’s national science agency CSIRO.

“Skykraft’s infrastructure solution has the capability to significantly enhance global aircraft tracking, minimise unnecessary air miles and improve aircraft sustainability.  As sustainably focused global infrastructure investors, we recognise the significance this could have for the aviation industry,” said Meena Samaan, Executive Director, Foresight Australia.

“OPTrust is proud to be investing in an Australian business that is revolutionising the air traffic management industry. Its innovative space-based infrastructure solution provides significant safety benefits to the aviation sector. OPTrust has a strong track record of supporting the development of transport infrastructure platforms, and we are excited to support Skykraft in building out its satellite constellation,” said Stan Kolenc, Senior Managing Director, OPTrust.

“Skykraft is doing truly groundbreaking work that has the potential to transform aviation communications infrastructure. Their expertise in designing, building and operating satellite constellations enables them to provide global services that replace legacy systems. By reinventing transport infrastructure from the ground up using space-based platforms, they can increase air safety and address the gaps in surveillance and communications over oceans and remote regions,” said Main Sequence Partner Martin Duursma. “As investors focused on how space innovation benefits society on Earth, we at Main Sequence are thrilled to support Skykraft as they develop this new infrastructure to connect aircraft anywhere in the world.”

The experience of these investors will support the roll-out of Skykraft’s air traffic management infrastructure, including a constellation of hundreds of satellites in low-earth orbit. This infrastructure will provide global air traffic management with space-based VHF communications and surveillance, allowing aircraft to follow more efficient flight paths. These flight paths offer reduced operating costs and lower environmental impact (CO2 emissions), providing a compelling value proposition for a comprehensive space-enabled ATM service.

Building on the successful launch of 10 satellites in 2023, Skykraft will be launching further satellites in 2024 to complete final in-orbit testing prior to the roll-out of the initial constellation of satellites in 2025. Skykraft is working with global Air Navigation Service Providers on service customisation to ensure that the system design meets operational and safety requirements.

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