Date
19 November 2017
Malaysia Airlines is expected to start using the global aircraft tracking system next year. Photo: Reuters
Malaysia Airlines is expected to start using the global aircraft tracking system next year. Photo: Reuters

Malaysia Air to use satellite-based aircraft tracking system

Malaysia Airlines, which lost a wide-body jet with 239 people aboard as it was flying over the Indian Ocean in 2014, has become the first airline to sign an agreement for space-based flight tracking of its aircraft.

The subsidiary of Malaysian Airline System Bhd reached an agreement with Aireon LLC, SITAONAIR and FlightAware LLC to enable it to monitor the flight paths of its planes anywhere in the world, including over the polar regions and the most remote oceans, Bloomberg reports, citing a press release from Aireon.

Aireon is launching a new satellite network with Iridium Communications Inc. that will allow it to monitor air traffic around the globe, the report said. 

The satellite-based, real-time global aircraft tracking is expected to start operating for the airline by 2018.

Most international flights are already transmitting their position with technology known as ADS-B and the signals can be tracked from the ground or space.

The US Federal Aviation Administration has already installed a ground-based tracking system for ADS-B.

“Real-time global aircraft tracking has long been a goal of the aviation community,” Malaysia Air chief operating officer Izham Ismail was quoted as saying. “We are proud to be the first airline to adopt this solution.”

Malaysia Flight 370 was on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, when it turned around, flew back across Malaysia and then turned toward the remote reaches of the southern Indian Ocean.

While debris from the plane has been found washed ashore on African beaches, the main wreckage was never located despite years of searching.

Whether the Aireon tracking system would have made a difference in Flight 370 isn’t clear.

The plane’s location transmitter went dead, possibly because it was intentionally shut off, and the aircraft would not have been visible to the satellite network, Bloomberg said.

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