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AURA attracts USD75 million in new funding for US nationwide command-and-control network

AURA Network Systems (AURA) has announced it has closed USD75 million in funding, with USD55 million committed by Fortress Investment Group, or its affiliates, and $20 million from previous investors Mudrick Capital Management and Tracker Capital Management, or their affiliates.

According to a company press release:

“The company’s safety-critical network capabilities as a Command and Control Communication Service Provider (C2CSP) were exhibited during the recent National Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) Industry Forum in Springfield, Ohio, as well as mid-July demonstrations in Western Maryland. Both involved aircraft outfitted with an AURA airborne radio and voice comms module supporting the company’s commitment to provide a safe and reliable communications service encompassing command and control data, telemetry data and air traffic control voice service.

“The latest funding is a major milestone for our company and an accelerant as we head into 2023,” said AURA CEO Bill Tolpegin. “The financing enables AURA to continue our core development work while providing us with the financial runway to launch commercial services. Our entire team is grateful for the confidence of all our investors and partners as we continue to grow our role in the groundbreaking journey to transform transportation by ultimately delivering C2-communications capabilities in a regulatory-compliant network specifically designed for aviation.”

With the investment from Fortress—known for successful spectrum-based investments fostering innovation in critical infrastructure—Managing Partner Drew McKnight will serve on the company’s board of directors. “We have followed AURA closely since its founding and are deeply impressed by the company’s progress, including its launch in 2020 of the nation’s first and only coast-to-coast, secure network purpose-built for the aviation industry,” said McKnight. “We are confident that AURA will emerge as a critical innovator and service provider across a full range of crewed and uncrewed aircraft applications, including emerging markets for autonomous air cargo and urban air mobility that together are projected to capture nearly $150 billion in annual spending within the next 15 years.”

AURA has developed a private communications network made possible via Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-licensed spectrum for aviation-only use and proprietary technologies. That approach has led to a four-year cooperative R&D agreement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and two Space Act agreements with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

Last July, AURA raised USD30.9 million in an equity financing, including USD30 million from Mudrick Capital Management and Tracker Capital Management, as well as nearly USD1 million from company management. The company’s initial financing totalled USD7.5 million.

AURA plans to deliver an FAA-compliant nationwide network utilizing unique, licensed aviation spectrum to accelerate advanced levels of autonomy in the National Airspace System, said the company.  “As a Command and Control Communication Service Provider (C2CSP), its vision is to empower the aerospace industry’s pioneering technology solutions that improve accessibility and safety, drive economic expansion and further environmental sustainability—while transforming the concept of aviation for crewed and remotely piloted aircraft. AURA’s frequencies in the 450 MHz band have extraordinary propagation characteristics ideal for secure and reliable communications. The company’s technology increases the commercial viability of autonomous operations.”

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