Satellite based airplane tracking mechanism to be operational by 2018

Satellite based tracking mechanism could make incidents such as the disappearance of the Malaysian MH370 a thing of the past.

It’s pretty difficult to comprehend how an object as huge as a passenger airplane can disappear without leaving a trace.

So as to mitigate issues related to this issue, two companies have come up with a satellite tracking solution that promises to make disappearances such as that of the Malaysian Airlines MH370 a problem of the past.

Instead of planes beaming their location onto ground stations, they will now send them to satellites with the Aireon GlobalBeacon system. Currently the system is being developed simultaneously with FlightAware, a flight tracking service.

In order to track flights GlobalBeacon will employ ADS-B low orbit satellites from Iridium Communications. This system will provide for near-realtime tracking of planes.

As for FlightAware, it was initially designed to provide air traffic controllers a way to improve efficiency when routing flights. Now it plans on launching a tracking mechanism next week, in synch with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) meet in Montreal.

Both systems are set to be operational by 2018.

Incidentally, this isn’t the first time that the suggestion of using satellites to track airplanes has emerged. In 2014, after the disappearance of the MH370, Immarsat had proposed a free-to-use global tracking system which uses satellites which could be used for airplanes.

Significantly, Panasonic Avionics is set to lend its equipment which will alert ATC of sudden drop in altitude, deviations from scheduled flight path and provide alerts for turbulences.

It can also provide airline to airline contact via text or voice messages with a resolution of minutes.


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