Malaysia Airlines will start using satellite-based real-time global aircraft tracking in 2018.
Aircraft tracking, especially over oceanic and remote airspace, has been an industry issue since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean on March 8, 2014. The Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data sent by aircraft can be received by ground stations, except for remote airspace were no or insuffient ground stations are available.
Progress has been made in allowing satellites to receive ADS-B data, allowing for real-time position updates globally. Aircraft connectivity company SITAOnAir is using Aireon’s Iridium NEXT satellites to provide global coverage. The first ten satellites were launched in January, 2017. Fifty-six more low-earth-orbit satellites will follow.
By incorporating this data, Malaysia Airlines’ aircraft operations center will receive real-time position updates of its airborne fleet globally.