Last updated: 02:00 PM ET, Wed September 28 2016

Qatar Airways To Adopt Real-Time Tracking

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | September 28, 2016

Qatar Airways To Adopt Real-Time Tracking

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

If the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March of 2014 taught the aviation world anything, it was the need for real-time tracking of flights. Large gaps in communication between the flight and various control tower checkpoints led to the difficulties in tracking MH370 and pinpointing exactly when and where the flight went down.

Now, Aireon and FlightAware are testing the new GlobalBeacon system of real-time tracking with Qatar Airways about to become the first carrier to adopt the new technology.

The agreement will provide Qatar Airways' Integrated Operations Center with minute-by-minute global tracking of its flights.

According to a release, GlobalBeacon combines FlightAware's worldwide flight tracking information – including origin, destination, flight plan route, position, and estimated time of arrival – with data from Aireon's space-based ADS-B aircraft surveillance system, due to be operational in 2018.  The solution will provide Qatar Airways with state-of-the-art technology to meet and exceed GADSS requirements and recommendations.

"Qatar Airways is a leader in the aviation industry, and their proactive approach to implementing the GADSS recommendations reinforces that point," Aireon CEO Don Thoma said in a statement. "With a modern fleet of 190 aircraft flying all over the world, across remote and oceanic airspace, Qatar Airways and GlobalBeacon are an ideal match and no new avionics will be required. We're excited to welcome them as a partner."

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker, said: "As one of the fastest growing airlines in the world, both our needs, and our drive to deliver the very best services for our global passengers, are continually evolving. GlobalBeacon will seamlessly integrate with our existing ICAO 2018 compliant flight watch technology (Total Operations System), and further enhance our fleet management by providing updates every minute.”

Other airlines are expected to also adopt the system after the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) earlier this year came out with its Global Aeronautical Distress Safety System (GADSS) recommendations.

GADSS was created to help improve the ability to detect commercial aircraft in remote locations. The key components of GADSS recommend that aircraft report their position to the airline's operations center at a minimum of once every 15 minutes under normal flight circumstances.

However, if an aircraft should become in distress, position reports are then to be provided every minute. GlobalBeacon will provide a permanent minute-by-minute reporting capability, exceeding the ICAO recommendation.


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