The disappearance of flight MH370 taught the general public one thing: that flight tracking technology isn't as comprehensive as many might have thought. Current radar doesn't have global coverage, and if a transponder fails (as was the case with the Malaysia Airlines flight) there's little that can be done. Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B) promises to improve things, but still won't cover the whole planet. Aireon (a subsidiary of Iridium Satellite) has an implementation of ADS-B that promises global reach (a leap from 10- to 100 percent coverage according to its claims). It uses 66 of Iridium's "Next" Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites which is what allows it to cover remote, or oceanic regions out of reach by current systems. "Aireon Alert" has been in development for some time, and is scheduled to launch in 2017. What's new, is that Aireon has announced it'll be providing the it's Alert data to emergency services and the aviation community free of charge. Soon after launch, approved search and rescue teams will then be able to get the location of any ADS-B enabled flight without needing extra avionics.
- September 23