Airlines have been working vigorously to develop a more mainstream and cost-effective product for flight tracking in order to replace the outdated method of passive, infrequent flight tracking. These changes are much needed-especially, after the recent disappearances of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and AirAsia Flight QZ8501. Rockwell Collins and SITA have both developed new packages that will allow airlines to actively track their flights.
Although the final form and concept of operations for this required tracking are not yet set in stone, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has announced that this transition calls for airlines to obtain position data every 15 minutes. For the U.S., Canada, China, and several other countries where dispatchers are already required to actively track their assets, the change could merely mean a more frequent update of the reports airlines already receive in oceanic and remote areas. For other parts of the world where operational oversight is much less stringent, the upgrades will require a complete shift in operations. In either case, airlines want to maximize the use of existing avionics and data streams while minimizing the costs of any new measures.
Rockwell Collins has been working with five non-U.S. airlines on a new tracking service that will be part of its “GlobaLink” family of services. The new Flight Tracking Solutions, which are to be officially revealed in March of this year, include working with individual airlines to map gaps in route structures where more frequent position reports will be needed to meet the ICAO’s new standards and determine how to achieve the most cost-efficient mix of data transmission methods. The complete breakdown of the ICAO’s proposed standards are expected later this year. The airlines Rockwell Collins has been working with have not tested the tracking solution directly in their operations but are expected to within the next few weeks.
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