Inmarsat is to offer the world’s passenger airlines a free-of-charge satellite tracking service.
The service would establish an aircraft’s position using GPS, and then transmit that date along with heading, speed and altitude via Inmarsat’s global satellite network, once every fifteen minutes.
The move is a response to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which was lost from global tracking systems on 8th March. Inmarsat’s satellite network provided some of the last on the indicators of MH370’s location, as satellite equipment on the aircraft and ground stations automatically attempted to check satellite connections with the plane.
Chris McLaughlin, senior vice-president of Inmarsat, told BBC News that the company would provide the service free of charge, but with the aim of getting airlines to upgrade to premium services.
"Our equipment is on 90% of the world's wide-body jets already. This is an immediate fix for the industry at no cost to the industry… we would keep that basic tracking service free of charge.”
The service would cost Inmarsat around $3m a year. The company already provides free services to the maritime sector, with all distress calls from ships are relayed over its network free of charge.