Malaysia Airlines gets the world’s best plane tracker

Andrew Munro 21 April 2017

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The Aircom FlightTracker might be the next leap forwards

In 2014 Malaysia Airlines made history for tragic reasons, with the unprecedented disappearance of flight MH370. The now-infamous event made headlines for a long time because it was unheard of for modern passenger jets to simply disappear without a trace.

Since then Malaysia Airlines has taken serious steps, and is now the first airline in the world to sign on with the Air com Flight Tracker. This technology is being hailed as "the biggest improvement in flight tracking since radar" by its creators, utilising 66 satellites to relay real-time aircraft positions back to Earth for the full duration of a flight, and on the ground if needed.

The service will become operational in 2018, following the completion of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation, after which Malaysia Airlines might have the single best and most advanced flight tracking system the world has ever seen, depending on whether other airlines also sign up between now and then.

As well as fully up to date flight tracking, this space satellite tracking network may also deliver significant improvements in other flight operations. Carriers will be able to track the upcoming weather in more detail, any flight deviations will become immediately apparent and can swiftly be relayed, while Malaysia Airlines will also be able to react to air traffic conditions more quickly so the ground team can make adjustments focused on improving the timeliness and efficiency of its flights.

As well as efficiency benefits, the ongoing benefits of reduced fuel costs can make a significant difference to a carrier's bottom line, giving more room for further improvements and amenities, more competitive pricing, or both.

Malaysia Airlines will be the first to use the Aircom FlightTracker, which might be the next big leap forwards in air travel. After years of honing technology for slightly improved performance, and minor savings, the introduction of a system like this which could deliver such wide-ranging advantages might be a real game changer.

Naturally, regaining customer confidence might be a benefit more unique to Malaysia Airlines, although perhaps there's still a ways to go. According to the Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre (JACDEC) 2017 rankings of the top 60 airlines, Malaysia Airlines still doesn't enjoy the highest flight safety rankings, coming in at number 56 out of the top 60. By contrast, Qantas is number 9, while Jetstar ranks number 26. The highest rank was Cathay Pacific in the number one spot, while China Airlines came in at 60.

All of them, however, are still in the top 60 airlines and enjoy a sterling record compared to those which didn't make the cut, Malaysia Airlines included. With the introduction of the Air com FlightTracker in 2018 there might be movement in the rankings, as well as efficiency and cost benefits, which often speak just as loudly as safety features.

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