Since the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 in March 2014, the aviation industry has held global flight tracking standards under close scrutiny, led by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
ICAO want to have global flight tracking standardised, with positioning reporting at 15-minute intervals under normal flight conditions, and reporting every minute for aircraft under ‘distress’ conditions. The body authorised by the UN, overseers of aviation safety in this respect, has asked that these conditions be mandatory by the end of 2018.
ICAO is working with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to ensure, through simulations, that the proposed tracking standard is possible in what they deem to be ‘real-world conditions’.
The technology is already in place to determine safe and reliable flight tracking on a global scale. Providers of flight tracking systems and aircraft communications, such as Rockwell Collins’ ARINC AviNet, rely on a robust system architecture, and multiple data sources, to deliver accurate aircraft positioning via Inmarsat satellite communications.
Since the tragic disappearance of flight MH370 last year, the call for a reliable aircraft tracking solution has been heard across the aviation industry from regulators and airlines alike.
Today Rockwell Collins announced the launch of their latest offering, promising to deliver a cost-effective, comprehensive solution utilising multiple data sources to ‘reliably report the location of aircraft anywhere in the world’.
Rockwell Collins’ ARINC messaging solutions have always been some of the most reliable in the world and used by airlines and operators globally for many years.
ARINC MultiLink will use a proprietary algorithm to merge six data sources, including:
- ADS-B and ADS-C
- High-Frequency Data Link (HFDL)
- ACARS position reports
- ASDI radar data
- EUROCONTROL position information
In addition, Rockwell Collins’ ARINC MultiLink has been developed with the capacity to incorporate future data sources as they may become available.
Jeff Standerski, senior vice-president of Information Management Services for Rockwell Collins said, “In today’s global aviation environment, no single source of data is sufficient to track aircraft globally. By merging multiple data sources, many of which airlines already receive, we can automatically select the right combination of data feeds to allow airlines to pinpoint an aircraft’s location anywhere in the world, in the most economical way.”
Set to be available to airlines and operators in just a few short weeks, ARINC MultiLink will be offered as an add-on to Rockwell Collins’ current products or as a data feed that can be live-streamed to situational displays.
It has been announced that Skyservice Business Aviation operators have signed a deal that will give real-time flight tracking benefits on a global scale.
The solution, to be installed on Learjet 45’s that make up the Skyservice Air Ambulance fleet, will also offer data collection for maintenance purposes and monitoring functions to enable issue fixing and thus minimising potential downtime and helping to increase operational productivity.
The agreement has been signed initially for five years at an estimated value of $550,000, based on potential flight hours and list prices. Skyservice has signed a contract with Star Navigation Systems Group Ltd, a Canadian-based technology company with a focus on aerospace solutions.
Sam Cimone, President of Skyservice Business Aviation said “Our company is continuously looking at improving its operations and efficiency and more importantly, the safety of our passengers and clients. The STAR-A.D.S. (TM) solution, with the precise data it continuously and globally provides, coupled with its analysis abilities, will enhance our performance, and assist us in monitoring the aircraft in real time. This will ensure better utilization of the aircraft and safety for the passenger”.
As we enter the fourth month following the unprecedented disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, more airlines and operators are looking to real-time flight tracking solutions.
Inmarsat, the British satellite company that suggested the new search area for flight MH370, has offered its current customers free basic aircraft tracking in light of the tragedy.
Inmarsat have 11,000 commercial passenger aircraft amongst its customers, equipped with their satellite technology and have made their offer as an immediate address to the subject of aircraft tracking that has graced many boardroom tables since the aircraft was reported missing.
“This offer responsibly, quickly and at little or no cost to the industry, addresses in part the problem brought to light by the recent tragic events around MH370,” said Inmarsat CEO, Rupert Pearce.
In addition, Inmarsat have discussed the provision of an ‘in-cloud black box’ system that would be capable of streaming historic and real-time flight data, including cockpit voice recording. The ICAO will be taking these discussions further during the meeting in Montreal this week to discuss the technological requirements for the provision of the necessary equipment to ensure that the tragic events of MH370 are not repeated.
A set of standards are expected to be released following these talks, which will be attended by more than 40 representatives of all areas of aviation, airports, ATS and airlines.
Since the disappearance of Malaysia flight MH370, questions have been asked about the ability of radar to track aircraft worldwide. We know the technology exists, so how is it possible to ‘lose’ an aircraft to such an extent.
According to NZ Airways, who are responsible for the country’s 30 million square kilometres of airspace, a mere 60% of flights were tracked using satellite. Head of Auckland operations, Tim Boyle said, “It’s either radio or via what we call data link… through satellites.”
‘If data link updates were missed, and the aircraft remained out of radio contact, then Airways would have no way of knowing where the aircraft was’, he added.
The only route that has data link satellite mandates in place is within the North Atlantic route, according to Inmarsat senior vice-president of external affairs, Chris McLaughlin. It was an Inmarsat network that picked up data ‘handshakes’ from the missing Boeing 777 for up to five hours after it had left Malaysian airspace.
Black spots exist across the globe, for airlines that choose not to ‘opt into’ a contract for data-link systems. Neither Australia or New Zealand have any mandatory regulations to specify position reporting and it is thought that many aircraft are flying for long hours without reporting their positions.
Honeywell GDC Aircraft Datalink clients of WSI Corporation can now look forward to global flight tracking as part of the WSI Fusion Package. The announcement is a part of the WSI and Honeywell agreement to enhance business aviation operations.
Global flight tracking enables operators to stay ahead and facilitates operational decision making that will keep flights on time, reducing the impact of disruptive events, such as adverse weather conditions in the planned flight path.
WSI Corporation, based in Massachusetts with offices in Birmingham, U.K. bring weather data to aviation and rely upon aircraft datalink communications to deliver up-to-date, reliable information. Business aviation operators are flying increasingly greater distances and global flight tracking is a valuable tool for the industry sector.
ARINC Direct is another provider of business aviation services to the sector and offer global flight tracking as part of their Flight Support Services package. Global flight tracking is made possible using the network partnership of Inmarsat and Iridium satellites, which can bring seamless connectivity for aircraft datalink communications.