Comsat lands $100 million satellite services contract New technology for airline navigation

December 27, 1996|By BLOOMBERG BUSINESS NEWS

WASHINGTON -- Comsat Corp. won a $100 million contract from the Federal Aviation Administration yesterday to provide satellite services for new airline navigation technology.

The company's Comsat Mobile Communications will provide services for the satellite-based navigation system known as the Wide Area Augmentation System, or WAAS, as well as the FAA's National Satellite Test Bed, the agency said.

Shares of the Bethesda-based company rose 50 cents to $23.50 yesterday.

Company offices were closed for the holidays and officials couldn't be reached for comment.

"On the face of it, it looks fairly meaningful," said Smith Barney analyst Charles Schelke. Still, Schelke said, he needs to talk with the company about pricing and costs before gauging how the contract will affect earnings.

The five-year, seven-month contract has an additional five years of options, the FAA said.

It includes leases for communications links on the company's Inmarsat-3 Atlantic Ocean Region-West and Pacific Ocean Region satellites, the FAA said. The relay devices on those satellites are the only ones that would be available in time to

complete WAAS by 1998, the agency said.

The WAAS system is designed to better manage the country's air traffic. With the system in place, consumers can look forward to shorter plane trips, fewer delays and more clearance for airplanes to land in bad weather, the FAA has said.

Using the precise satellite signals, planes will be able to fly closer together on more direct routes, while enhancing overall safety and lowering costs, the FAA said.

Pub Date: 12/27/96

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