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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24, 2014:

A new space-based air traffic surveillance system is being developed to allow rescue agencies all over the world to track any suitably-equipped aircraft.

The system, which will be available in three years, will eliminate such “disappearances” like that of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 earlier this year.

The Independent Irish website reported that the system, known as the Aircraft Locating and Emergency Response (Alert), was currently being developed by US-based Aireon, a subsidiary of Iridium Communications Inc.

It said an Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) partner company had confirmed plans to offer the facility as a free, public service to the global aviation community.

The website said Alert would allow rescue agencies to request the location and last flight track of any suitably-equipped aircraft flying in airspace where surveillance is not currently available.

The Independent reported that the system would use existing “automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast’ (ADS-B) equipment on commercial Airbus and Boeing aircraft, requiring no additional investment in equipment or services by airlines or air navigation safety providers.

Aireon president and chief executive officer Don Thoma said a comprehensive, global aircraft tracking solution was essential in emergency situations, as evidenced by MH370 earlier this year and Air France 447 in 2009.

He said Aireon was being deployed to improve the efficiency and safety of aircraft operations in oceanic and un-surveillanced airspace.

“The same technology behind these efficiency and safety gains can also make a significant difference in providing quick, accurate information in emergency situations.

“With one global view of ADS-B-equipped aircraft, Aireon Alert will provide accurate and real-time tracking data immediately to authorised search and rescue operations,” Thoma said.

He added that this could be done without requiring airlines to equip aircraft with new avionics.

The Independent quoted Thoma as saying Aireon will be deployed as a global space-based ADS-B surveillance capability, providing direct air traffic controller visibility of flights operating in oceanic or remote airspace, focused on improving the efficiency and safety of aircraft operations.

Thoma said Aireon anticipated to be fully operational by 2017 and to create a powerful platform capable of tracking ADS-B-equipped aircraft around the globe in real-time.

The Aireon Alert service will be available soon after Aireon’s full deployment and will be provided through a 24/7 application and emergency call centre.

Irish Aviation Authority chief executive Eamonn Brennan said Aireon was the future of air traffic surveillance.

He said they anticipated support from the world’s airlines for this revolutionary, new flight-tracking system for emergency situations.

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