Malaysia Airlines signs up for global plane-tracking satellite service

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  April 19, 2017 at 9:53 AM
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April 19 (UPI) -- Malaysia Airlines said it has become the first carrier to enlist to a satellite flight tracking system that will monitor the location of company's fleet worldwide.

The U.S.-based Aireon, FlightAware and SITAONAIR aviation industry firms developed a service -- called FlightTracker -- that will soon launch in which satellites are used to track planes in areas where there is currently no surveillance. The service will provide more regular updates on the location of airplanes, particularly when traveling in remote areas such as oceans.

Airplanes will not need new avionics or modifications to use the service, which will become operational in 2018.

"Real-time global aircraft tracking has long been a goal of the aviation community," Malaysia Airlines COO Capt. Izham Ismail said in a statement. "We are proud to be the first airline to adopt this solution."

The announcement follows the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished from radar screens on March 8, 2014, after leaving Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Malaysia en route to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board. Malaysian authorities concluded the flight had ended in the Indian Ocean, but no confirmed MH370 debris was found until last year when a right wing flaperon was discovered on Reunion Island, east of Madagascar. Officials indefinitely suspended the search for the airplane in January.

"Malaysia Airlines has taken a lead role in the industry since the tragic events of 2014. Real-time, global flight tracking, anywhere on the planet will further its safety goals, by allowing Malaysia Airlines to track its aircraft anytime, anywhere," Aireon CEO Don Thoma said in a statement.

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