Late accidents on AF447 Rio-Paris on 1 June 2009 and MH370 Kuala Lumpur-Beijing since 8 March 2014 have raised the issue of tracking aircraft flying across the globe, even above oceanic or remote areas, in order to be able to provide early notice of, and response to, abnormal flight behavior across the globe and ensure that information is provided in a timely fashion to the right people to support search and rescue, recovery and accident investigation activities.

The second High Level Safety Conference organized by ICAO from 2-5 February 2015 adopted a special Resolution on Global Flight Tracking, which included urging industry to start implementing global tracking, on a voluntary basis, through the use of available technologies.

Malaysia Airlines has become the first customer to sign up for SITAONAIR, Aireon and FlightAware’s global flight tracking service, designed to prevent incidents similar to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370.

Under the SITAONAIR agreement, Malaysia Airlines will adopt the real-time alerting system, giving it minute-by-minute, space-based global tracking across its whole fleet.

The system adds Aireon’s space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data to FlightAware’s global air traffic control data, aircraft datalink information and terrestrial ADS-B data. This space-based ADS-B data helps cover data gaps, particularly over oceanic and remote airspace, where there is currently no surveillance. The information is then delivered through to SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM FlightTracker.

Malaysia Airlines will be at the cutting-edge of real-time flight tracking technology. With access to up-to-the-minute reporting, Malaysia Airlines will know the location, heading, speed and altitude of all aircraft in its fleet, at all times, and be alerted to any exceptions,” SITAONAIR AIRCOM portfolio director Paul Gibson said.

SITAONAIR added that no new avionics or modifications are needed to use the service; it will work for all ADS-B Out-equipped aircraft.

Aireon is expected to become operational in 2018, once the 66 satellites of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation go live. Customers of SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM FlightTracker will automatically begin seeing the new Aireon data appear in their systems.