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Malaysia Airlines will be first to track all of its flights globally in real time

Malaysia Airlines announced Wednesday that it will be the first airline to use a new real-time satellite tracking system to monitor all of its flights around the world. The air carrier is partnering with three companies -- FlightAware, SITANOAIR and Aireon -- to use the minute-by-minute flight update system. 

The airline says the data provided by this system will fill in the gaps in information for aircraft operations centers, especially when a plane passes over an ocean or a remote airspace where there is currently no flight surveillance in place. The current fleet of planes will be able to use the system without new modifications. 

“Real-time global aircraft tracking has long been a goal of the aviation community,” Captain Izham Ismail, the airline’s chief operating officer, said in a press release. “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.”

MH370 search suspended 02:55

“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,” added Paul Gibson of SITAONAIR.

This tracking service will be available in 2018 after the completion of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, a network of 66 low-earth-orbit satellites providing global coverage. The first 10 satellites launched earlier this year.

Of course, the announcement follows a publicly disastrous time for the Malaysia Airlines, three years after its Beijing-bound MH370 flight and its 239 passengers vanished. The mystery behind that disappearance remains unsolved. The 46,000-square-mile deep-water search for the missing flight ended in January without finding any clues about what happened to the plane.

The tragic disappearance of MH370 prompted calls for more reliable real-time tracking of aircraft.

“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 its safety goals, by allowing Malaysia Airlines to track its aircraft anytime, anywhere,” Aireon CEO Don Thoma said.

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