Aircraft Tracking from Space

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The two recent tragic and mysterious catastrophes that hit Malaysia Airlines have generated support for airline tracking services. Through the history of aircrafts, the different aircrafts have been monitored and managed from dedicated management systems on the ground, and much of the flight history is secured through the so- called “Black Box” onboard.

The loss of the Malaysian flight MH370 in the South China Sea or Indian Sea has caused many to question the effectiveness of this management. No one can say exactly where the aircraft was lost and the Black Box has never been found. The whole flight is one huge mystery that may never be solved.

The Earth is surrounded by a network of satellites, some circling the Earth in different low orbits or staying in geostationary orbits, stably placed related to the Earth.


Why not monitor and manage aircrafts from space?

The tool is accessible.


Monitoring the airlines from space. Credit: INMARSAT

Inmarsat, the leading provider of global mobile satellite communication satellite services has proposed to ICAO (The International Civil Aviation Organization) a free global airline tracking service over the Inmarsat Network. The service is being offered to all 11,000 commercial passenger aircrafts which are already equipped with an Inmarsat satellite connection, virtually 100 percent of the world’s long haul commercial fleet.

The offer may be the beginning of a new management system for civil airlines. All airlines can be monitored and managed through the already established system or a new dedicated system to fill the service may be launched. All flight data and cockpit voice can be transmitted to the ground and stored there and one will not be dependent on finding the “Black Box” from the aircraft. In case a flight crashes, one will  almost immediately be able to find the flight data from the lost aircraft, exactly pinpoint the last position and start investigating what happened.

This may prove to be an essential and crucial step forward for airline security.


Source: Inmarsat Press Release.