CBS News reports that a new satellite network which will ensure commercial aeroplanes can be tracked from anywhere will launch soon.
On 11 January, the final 10 of 66 replacement satellites were transported into space by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
These “advanced Iridium Communications satellites” are each the size of a small car, and alongside new Aireon air surveillance technology, will also be used to power satellite phones and Internet networks.
Currently, aircraft are mainly tracked with radar technology, which struggle when planes fly over oceans.
“70% of the world’s airspace has no surveillance,” said Don Thoma, CEO of Aireon.
“Aircraft fly over the oceans and report back their positions to air traffic control every 10-15 minutes at best – and in between those periods, no one knows where they are.”
All commercial flights in the US and Europe must have GPS transponders installed by 2020, which will allow the new satellites to track their movements.
This new technology may also allow more flights over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans at one time.