Malaysia Airlines will introduce a global flight tracking system from mid-2015, the launch customer for a new SITA service that uses existing equipment and re-purposed air traffic control data.
The deal will see Malaysia use SITA OnAir’s Aircom FlightTracker, a ground-based software upgrade that allows airlines to follow aircraft positions and identify any unexpected deviations or gaps in position reports.
SITA OnAir describes the system as “highly cost-effective” because it uses existing equipment and the Aircom ACARS message-handling system, which the airline already has in place.
Aircom FlightTracker uses multiple sources of data to guarantee tracking intervals of 15min at least for every flight. Data from contracted automatic dependent surveillance (ADS-C) tracking can be brought in immediately when the system detects a gap in data from other sources.
SITA OnAir chief executive Ian Dawkins says the company will, in an emergency, provide Aircom FlightTracker position reporting free of charge.
The loss, just over a year ago, of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has prompted much debate about the need for flight position tracking. On 8 March 2014, the flight, a Boeing 777 carrying 239 people, departed from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing but disappeared from radar and is thought by investigators to have crashed into the southern Indian Ocean. An extensive search has yet to find any trace of the aircraft.