ARINC Inc, acquired last year by Aeronautics giant, Rockwell Collins, developed and introduced ACARS messaging during the earliest years of commercial flight and insist that the technology is available today for real-time aircraft tracking. The debate continues in the wake of the tragic disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370, now into the fourth month with no news.
In-flight connectivity providers and satellite companies are currently competing for business with Inmarsat, the British satellite company that provided additional information about the ill-fated flight and Iridium both supporting flight deck communications and aircraft tracking solutions as they have done for years.
More than 300 airlines and 15,000 aircraft have relied upon the industry-standard ACARS and ARINC GLOBALink for mission critical transmissions. Rockwell Collins’ CEO, Kelly Ortberg said, “We may have to write some software, we may have to do some different things; upgrade the aircraft to implement this capability, but we don’t need to invest in new technology.”
With VHF datalink extending throughout Central and North America, most of Europe and Asia, Inmarsat’s satellite network providing coverage to expand VHF capability to encompass real-time data reporting and weather updates and Iridium’s network reaching the remote oceanic expanses and Polar Regions, it is clear that the technology is indeed available to bring global coverage within reach of the world’s airlines and operators.
Aviation messaging is under scrutiny at the moment, particularly by IATA and ICAO, who are working together to investigate the options for airlines in terms of global tracking to avoid another MH370 crisis at all costs.