Malaysia Airlines has become the first customer to sign up for SITAONAIR, Aireon and FlightAware’s global flight tracking service, designed to prevent incidents similar to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370.

MH370—a Boeing 777-200ER with 239 passengers and crew aboard—veered from its planned course about 40 minutes after taking off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing on March 8, 2014. While some of the aircraft structures have since been located, the majority of the airframe has still not been recovered. The search for the missing 777 ended in January this year.

The MH370 disappearance has reinforced the need for continual flight tracking, triggering new ICAO rules for tracking aircraft.

Under the SITAONAIR agreement, Malaysia Airlines will adopt the real-time alerting system, giving it minute-by-minute, space-based global tracking across its whole fleet.

The system adds Aireon’s space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data to FlightAware’s global air traffic control data, aircraft datalink information and terrestrial ADS-B data. This space-based ADS-B data helps cover data gaps, particularly over oceanic and remote airspace, where there is currently no surveillance. The information is then delivered through to SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM FlightTracker.

“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,” SITAONAIR AIRCOM portfolio director Paul Gibson said.

SITAONAIR added that no new avionics or modifications are needed to use the service; it will work for all ADS-B Out-equipped aircraft.

Aireon is expected to become operational in 2018, once the 66 satellites of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation go live. Customers of SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM FlightTracker will automatically begin seeing the new Aireon data appear in their systems.

Victoria Moores victoria.moores@penton.com