MH370 disaster prompts Inmarsat to begin airline tracking as part of a free global service which will cost them millions of dollars to organise.
It has been just over three months since flight MH370 went missing, yet there still remains no clear indication of what exactly happened to the 239 people on board that plane. It would seem that even with extensive searches, and the best equipment known to man, there remains no real answers. The MH370 mystery not only left the world shaken, it also left many asking the question, why had not all aircraft been tracked automatically?
The aircraft was unable to be tracked because the aircraft communications addressing and reporting system (ACARS) which collects data, such as the location, speed, altitude and transmits it back to the Inmarsat’s network was switched off. Whilst this is an uncommon mishap, Ruy Pinto, Inmarsat’s chief operating officer, explained that it isn’t out of the ordinary; ‘the switch, can sometimes be turned off due to the ‘aircraft lacking power or if there is a fire on board.’ If the plane was hijacked, then it is possible it was intentionally turned off.
The only way aircrafts can step forward from these problems, is if they are to announce their position at consistent intervals which can be done via satellite tracking. However, the cost of such a procedure often puts airlines off being tracked. Enter Inmarsat, who now plan to fund the new scheme, which will cost them about $3 million a year. In their latest announcement, Inmarsat have declared to offer the service to ‘virtually 100% of the world’s long haul commercial fleet.’
Rupert Pearce, chief executive of Inmarsat, has said “In the wake of the loss of MH370, we believe this is simply the right thing to do; “Because of the universal nature of existing Inmarsat aviation services, our proposals can be implemented right away on all ocean-going commercial aircraft using equipment that is already installed.”