Malaysia Airlines partners with Aireon, FlightAware and SITA OnAir for new satellite tracking service

Lian Parsons
Malaysia Airlines will soon be able to track all its flights
Malaysia Airlines will soon be able to track its flights (Source: Getty)

Malaysia Airlines has become the first airline to sign up for a satellite tracking service for its fleet.

The carrier has suffered from a couple of tragedies in recent years, such as the disappearance of Flight MH370 in March 2014 and the flight MH17 crash in July of the same year, and now the company is seeking to monitor its planes in areas where there is currently no surveillance.

The partnership is with a group of aviation industry firms including Aireon, FlightAware and SITA OnAir.

Read more: Search for lost flight MH370 abandoned

The airline will have access to space-tracking data for the entirety of its fleet and for the entirety of each flight. It will also be able to track location, heading, speed and altitude and be “alerted to any exceptions,” said SITA OnAir’s portfolio director Paul Gibson.

The system will be put into effect next year.

Flight MH370’s disappearance is still unsolved. Its transponder and the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System stopped communicating while over the Gulf of Thailand, with no information coming in or out about the aircraft’s position and identity to air traffic control. Because both those systems went down, investigators had to rely on piecemeal satellite data to find the flight’s possible location.

Many other companies are seeking to provide airlines with global tracking systems like Rockwell Collins and Immarsat.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has required that planes must transmit their location once every 15 minutes by November of next year. However, this will drop to once every 60 seconds by 2021 if the aircraft is in distress.

Read more: Malaysia Airlines bans checked luggage on London flights

Chief operating officer of Malaysia Airlines Izham Ismail said:

“Real-time global aircraft tracking has long since been a goal of the aviation community. We are proud to be the first airline to adopt this solution.”

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