Inmarsat to offer free tracking for aircrafts

May 19, 2014 |

The U.K.-based satellite company Inmarsat hopes to help improve airport and global travel safety since the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 by offering free aircraft tracking. According to Bloomberg, approximately 11,000 commercial airplanes will be equipped with the company’s tracking service.

Inmarsat played a role in directing the search and rescue efforts for MH370 to an area northwest of Perth, Australia, after it detected electronic “pings” from the Boeing 777 jet. The source said the service will likely boost revenue for satellite companies as it enters the airplane communications industry.

Inmarsat will use 10 satellites to collect information on speed, direction, altitude and location on the planes four times each hour. Bloomberg said that if there is an issue with any flight, the company will be able to use that data to determine where the plane is located.

“[The missing flight] is a wake-up call to the industry to improve safety,” Inmarsat Chief Executive Officer Rupert Pearce told Bloomberg. “There’s clearly a stimulus arising out of these tragic incidents.”

Inmarsat made its announcement just before the International Civil Aviation Organization in Canada where the tracking of flights in real-time was discussed. The International Air Transport Association is expected to release a report and recommendations for the airline industry by the end of the year regarding aircraft tracking.

Regulators in Europe suggested extending the life of electronic locator signals sent from an airplane’s black box from 30 to 90 days, Bloomberg reported.

In addition to free tracking services, Inmarsat plans to also sell services to carriers such as flight data and voice recording downloads that would offer insight into what was going on in a cabin during events such as a course deviation or dramatic altitude change. Bloomberg stated that flight tracking has become a hot topic since Flight MH370 vanished as well as the crash of an Air France flight in 2009.