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Malaysia Airlines at cutting edge with new real-time, space-based alerting system

AvantiKumar | May 9, 2017
Under a new agreement, Malaysia Airlines will be one of the first airlines to have access to minute-by-minute, 100% global, flight tracking data.

Malaysia_Airlines_A330_economy_cabin (creative commons license)

Photo  (CCL) - Malasia Airlines A330 economy cabin


  As the result of a recent agreement. Malaysia Airlines is the first airline to adopt a joint real-time, space-based alerting system for flight tracking.

When Malaysia Airlines' chief operating officer Captain Izham Ismail announced the move, he said: "Real-time global aircraft tracking has long been a goal of the aviation community."

No new avionics or modifications were needed for aircraft to take advantage of this new service, said Captain Izham.

The system uses SITAONAIR, Aireon and FlightAware for 100 percent minute-by-minute global flight tracking, and works by providing data to Malaysia Airlines' aircraft operations centre, which will receive real-time position updates of its airborne fleet globally.

Aireon's space-based ADS-B data will also resolve any existing data feed coverage gaps that remain, particularly over oceanic and remote airspace, where there is currently no surveillance, he said, adding: "We are proud to be the first airline to adopt this solution using space-based ADS-B data as part of SITAONAIR's AIRCOM FlightTracker."

More specifically, he said that the new solution enhanced the existing SITAONAIR AIRCOM FlightTracker by adding Aireon's space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data to the existing data available from FlightAware's multiple global sources, complementing active Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) Future Air Navigation System (FANS) activity data.

During the last two years, Malaysia Airlines has embarked on various ICT projects to deliver a 'traveller first' approach. as well as to digitise many of its operations.

At cutting edge

Commenting on the announcement, Paul Gibson, Portfolio Director, AIRCOM at SITAONAIR, said: "With the addition of the Aireon SM data, via FlightAware, to SITAONAIR's AIRCOM FlightTracker, combined with our active monitoring and automated alerting capabilities, Malaysia Airlines will be at the cutting-edge of real-time flight tracking technology."

"With access to up-to-the-minute reporting, Malaysia Airlines will know the location, heading, speed and altitude of all aircraft in its fleet, at all times, and be alerted to any exceptions," said Gibson.

The new capability rests on a recent (November 2016) partnership when Aireon, FlightAware and SITAONAIR said they would deliver Aireon data via FlightAware to SITAONAIR customers.

FlightAware provides a combination of global air traffic control data, aircraft datalink information and terrestrial ADS-B data through a secure streaming data feed.

Once the Aireon system is operational, expected in 2018, airlines already using SITAONAIR's AIRCOM FlightTracker will automatically begin seeing the new Aireon data appear in their systems without the need for costly modifications.

Coming in 2018

"In addition to not requiring any new avionics or modifications to their aircraft, Malaysia Airlines will seamlessly gain real-time flight tracking ability of its fleet, even in areas where regional Air Navigation Service Providers do not have full surveillance," said FlightAware chief executive officer, Daniel Baker. "The result will be that Malaysia Airlines will have greater visibility of their aircraft's exact location."

Aireon Chief Executive Officer, Don Thoma added: "Malaysia Airlines has taken a lead role in the industry since the tragic events of 2014. Real-time, global flight tracking, anywhere on the planet will further their safety goals, by allowing Malaysia Airlines to track their aircraft anytime, anywhere."

The partners added that Aireon's space-based ADS-B system will "offer a global solution that works for all ADS-B Out equipped aircraft everywhere. ADS-B Out mandates have been passed by ANSPs and industry governing bodies around the world, resulting in operators automatically knowing that their aircraft are properly equipped."

The Aireon service will be operational in 2018, shortly after the completion of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation. On January 14, 2017, the first 10 Iridium NEXT satellites carrying the Aireon ADS-B hosted payload were successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. In total, the constellation will consist of 66 operational low-earth-orbit satellites providing global coverage. The service will also provide Air Navigation Service Providers with global aircraft surveillance capability, and is expected to help reduce fuel costs, increase safety and enable more efficient flight paths.

The latest edition of this article lives at Computerworld Malaysia.


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