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Sunday 22 September 2019

New space-based air traffic surveillance system to eliminate 'disappearances' like MH370

An unidentified girl writes messages for MH370 in Kuala Lumpur.
An unidentified girl writes messages for MH370 in Kuala Lumpur.

Pat Flynn

A new system that will allow rescue agencies all over the world track any suitably equipped aircraft that finds itself in an emergency situation, will be available within three years.

It's hoped that the space-based air traffic surveillance system will eliminate such 'disappearances' as that of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 earlier this year.

An Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) partner company has confirmed plans to offer the facility as a free, public service to the global aviation community.

Currently being developed by US based Aireon, a subsidiary of Iridium Communications Inc, the new system will be known as Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response (ALERT).

ALERT will allow rescue agencies to request the location and last flight track of any suitably equipped aircraft flying in airspace where surveillance is not currently available.

The system will use existing 'automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast' (ADS-B) equipment on commercial Airbus and Boeing aircraft, requiring no additional investment in equipment or services by airlines or air navigation safety providers.

People place candles on a banner reading,
People place candles on a banner reading, "Pray for MH370" after a special prayer for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) headquarters in Kuala Lumpur April 6, 2014. International search planes and ships are heading to an area where a Chinese ship twice heard what could be signals from MH370's black box locators, Australian search authorities said on Sunday. REUTERS/Samsul Said
A man places a LED candle after a mass prayer for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, April 6, 2014. The head of the multinational search for the missing Malaysia airlines jet said that electronic pulses reportedly picked up by a Chinese ship are an encouraging sign but stresses they are not yet verified. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
People including Chinese relatives (bottom R) of passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 sit during a special prayer session at the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) headquarters in Kuala Lumpur April 6, 2014. International search planes and ships are heading to an area where a Chinese ship twice heard what could be signals from MH370's black box locators, Australian search authorities said on Sunday. REUTERS/Samsul Said
FILE - Retired Royal Australian Air Force Air Marshall Angus Houston speaks to the media during a press conference about the on-going search operations for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, in Perth, Australia, in this April 4, 2014 file photo. Houston told a news conference Sunday April 6, 2014 the two electronic pulsing signals that a Chinese ship reported detecting on Friday and Saturday had not been verified as connected to the missing jet. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith, File)
A woman takes part in a special prayer for passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 at the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) headquarters in Kuala Lumpur April 6, 2014. International search planes and ships are heading to an area where a Chinese ship twice heard what could be signals from MH370's black box locators, Australian search authorities said on Sunday. REUTERS/Samsul Said (
In this image taken from video, a member of a Chinese search team uses an instrument to detect electronic pulses while searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, on board the patrol vessel Haixun 01, in the search area in the southern Indian Ocean, Saturday, April 5, 2014. China's official Xinhua News Agency reported late Saturday that the patrol vessel Haixun 01 had detected a "pulse signal" at 37.5 kilohertz (cycles per second) - the same frequency emitted by flight data recorders aboard the missing plane - in the search area in the southern Indian Ocean. But retired Australian Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston stressed the two electronic pulses that the Chinese ship reported detecting on Friday and Saturday had not been verified as connected to the missing jet. (AP Photo/CCTV via AP Video)
Chinese relatives (bottom) of passengers onboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 take part in a special prayer at the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) headquarters in Kuala Lumpur April 6, 2014. International search planes and ships are heading to an area where a Chinese ship twice heard what could be signals from MH370's black box locators, Australian search authorities said on Sunday. REUTERS/Samsul Said
A woman holds an LED candle as she offers prayers during a mass prayer for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, April 6, 2014. The head of the multinational search for the missing Malaysia airlines jet said that electronic pulses reportedly picked up by a Chinese ship are an encouraging sign but stresses they are not yet verified. (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
A Chinese Ilyushin IL-76s aircraft taxies at Perth international airport en route to rejoin the search operation for wreckage and debris of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in Perth, near the coast of western Australia, Sunday, April 6, 2014. The chief coordinator of the Joint Agency Coordination Center retired Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston said reports that a Chinese ship had detected electronic pulse signals in the Indian Ocean related to the missing plane can not be verified at this stage. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)
Chinese relatives of passengers aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 hold LED candles as they offer prayers during a mass prayer for the missing plane, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Sunday, April 6, 2014. The head of the multinational search for the missing Malaysia airlines jet said that electronic pulses reportedly picked up by a Chinese ship are an encouraging sign but stresses they are not yet verified. The writing on the t-shirts reads "Praying that MH370 returns home safely." (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Stephanie Went keeps watch for any sign of debris aboard the Australian Navy ship HMAS Toowoomba as it continues the search in the southern Indian Ocean for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, in this picture released by the Australian Defence Force April 4, 2014. Malaysia's prime minister visited the Australian search base for missing Flight MH370 on Thursday as a nuclear-powered submarine joined the near-four week hunt that has so far failed to find any sign of the missing airliner and the 239 people on board. REUTERS/Australian Defence Force/Handout via Reuters (MID-SEA - Tags: MILITARY TRANSPORT MARITIME)
AT SEA - APRIL 04: SGT Adam Coats gets some rest onboard a RNZAF P3 Orion after they completed almost four hours of search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April0 4, 2014, near Australia. Up to fourteen planes and nine ships resumed in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia today. The airliner disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board and is suspected to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Nick Perry - Pool/Getty Images)
AT SEA - APRIL 04: SGT Sean Donaldson (L) and SGT Adam Coats prepare to open the aircraft door to deploy a sonar buoy onboard a RNZAF P3 Orion during search operations for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April0 4, 2014, near Australia. Up to fourteen planes and nine ships resumed in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia today. The airliner disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board and is suspected to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Nick Perry - Pool/Getty Images)
AT SEA - APRIL 04: An observer looks out a window onboard a RNZAF P3 Orion during the search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April0 4, 2014, near Australia. Up to fourteen planes and nine ships resumed in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia today. The airliner disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board and is suspected to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Nick Perry - Pool/Getty Images)
AT SEA - APRIL 04: An observer watches as a smoke flare is deployed to mark an unidentified object spotted from a RNZAF P3 Orion during search operations for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April0 4, 2014, near Australia. Up to fourteen planes and nine ships resumed in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia today. The airliner disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board and is suspected to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Nick Perry - Pool/Getty Images)
AT SEA - APRIL 04: SGT Sean Donaldson prepares to deploy a smoke marker onboard a RNZAF P3 Orion during search operations for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April0 4, 2014, near Australia. Up to fourteen planes and nine ships resumed in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia today. The airliner disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board and is suspected to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Nick Perry - Pool/Getty Images)
AT SEA - APRIL 04: An unidentified object is photographed from a monitor onboard a RNZAF P3 Orion during search operations for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April0 4, 2014, near Australia. Up to fourteen planes and nine ships resumed in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia today. The airliner disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board and is suspected to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Nick Perry - Pool/Getty Images)
AT SEA - APRIL 04: Wing commander Rob Shearer captain of the RNZAF P3 Orion (L) and SGT Sean Donaldson look out the cockpit windows during search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April0 4, 2014, near Australia. Up to fourteen planes and nine ships resumed in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia today. The airliner disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board and is suspected to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Nick Perry - Pool/Getty Images)
AT SEA - APRIL 04: SGT Sean Donaldson prepares to deploy a smoke marker onboard a RNZAF P3 Orion during search operations for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April0 4, 2014, near Australia. Up to fourteen planes and nine ships resumed in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia today. The airliner disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board and is suspected to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Nick Perry - Pool/Getty Images)
AT SEA - APRIL 04: Flight LT Stephen Graham monitors a TAC station onboard a RNZAF P3 Orion during search operations for wreckage and debris of missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April0 4, 2014, near Australia. Up to fourteen planes and nine ships resumed in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia today. The airliner disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board and is suspected to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. (Photo by Nick Perry - Pool/Getty Images)
AT SEA - APRIL 04: Wing commander Rob Shearer captain of the RNZAF P3 Orion reads through his notes before reaching the search area for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean on April0 4, 2014, near Australia. Up to fourteen planes and nine ships resumed in the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Western Australia today. The airliner disappeared on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew on board and is suspected to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean.

Aireon President and CEO Don Thoma said: “A comprehensive, global aircraft tracking solution is essential in emergency situations, as evidenced by MH370 earlier this year and Air France 447 in 2009. Aireon is being deployed to improve the efficiency and safety of aircraft operations in oceanic and unsurveilled airspace."

"The same technology behind these efficiency and safety gains can also make a significant difference in providing quick, accurate information in emergency situations. With one global view of ADS-B equipped aircraft, Aireon ALERT will provide accurate and real-time tracking data immediately to authorised search and rescue operations, without requiring airlines to equip aircraft with new avionics or the ANSPs and authorities to deploy new systems,” Mr Thoma added.

Aireon will deploy a global space-based ADS-B surveillance capability providing direct air traffic controller visibility of flights operating in oceanic or remote airspace, focused on improving the efficiency and safety of aircraft operations.

When Aireon is fully operational, anticipated for 2017, it will create a powerful platform capable of tracking ADS-B equipped aircraft around the globe in real-time. The Aireon ALERT service will be available soon after Aireon’s full deployment and will be provided through a 24/7 application and emergency call centre.

IAA Chief Executive Eamonn Brennan said: “Aireon represents the future of air traffic surveillance and we anticipate support from the world’s airlines for this revolutionary, new flight tracking system for emergency situations.

Aireon constitutes a massive technological step change for flight tracking, enabling aircraft to be tracked literally anywhere in the world. The free Aireon ALERT service is a very important addition to the product and will benefit the global aviation community," he added.

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