Malaysia Airlines first to track all its planes by satellite

20 April, 2017, 11:38 | Author: Leticia Walters
  • The new technology will see flights tracked all over the world even in remote locations

Three years after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared from radar with 239 people on board, Malaysia's national carrier says it will begin using satellites to track its planes at all times.

A frenzied multinational hunt for a plane began nearly three years ago when Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared over the South China Sea.

Malaysia Airlines will be the first airline customer to get access to global flight tracking data from an enhanced system developed by SITAONAIR and Aireon.

The airline reached a deal for the service provided by US-based Aireon, FlightAware and SITAONAIR. When the Kuala Lumpur-Beijing flight vanished in March 2014, the transmitter signal was lost, with some suspicions it was done deliberately.

No new avionics or modifications are needed for aircraft to take advantage of this new service.

It is expected that Aireon's satellite system will be fully functional by 2018.

The UN-urged method is already in use by most worldwide flights that transmit signals that can be picked up by ground or satellite. It uses a constellation of 72 communication satellites operated by United States firm Iridium (whose main business is selling satellite phones connected to its network).

The disappearance of Flight 370 remains one of the world's biggest aviation mysteries and its exact crash site has yet to be located.

FlightAware delivers a combination of global air traffic control data, aircraft datalink information and terrestrial ADS-B information via a secure streaming data feed.

Paul Gibson, Portfolio Director, AIRCOM®, at SITAONAIR, said: "With the addition of the Aireon SM data, via FlightAware, to SITAONAIR's AIRCOM® FlightTracker, combined with our active monitoring and automated alerting capabilities, Malaysia Airlines will be at the cutting-edge of real-time flight tracking technology".

Although debris from MH370 has washed up onto African beaches and islands in the Indian Ocean, the main wreckage was never found.

The company did not link the planned update to the 2014 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, noting only that the new technology had only "recently been made available". The search for the missing 777 ended in January this year.

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