A Beacon of Hope: Could New Tracking Tech Bring an End to Aircraft Disappearances?


Built by Aireon and Flightaware, GlobalBeacon is a new technology able to provide global, real-time flight tracking for airlines. Having gone live at the end of last year, to what extent can this technology help prevent cases of missing aircraft – and, in turn, save lives?

March 2019 will mark the fifth anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, its intended final destination.

Half a decade later, the fate of Flight 370 remains a modern aviation mystery. The hunt for the aircraft’s remains, believed to be at the bottom of Indian Ocean, has long gone cold.

Naturally, this hasn’t deterred conspiracy theorists from giving their two cents. Some of the more farfetched speculations range from the aircraft being shot down as part of a military exercise between the US and Thailand, to being by hijacked under orders from the Kremlin.

Such hypotheses have rightly been given short shrift by investigators. They also offer little solace to the families of the 239 people onboard the airline, all presumed to be dead.

However, the unknown fate of Flight 370 – and the disappearance of other aircraft before and since – serves to highlight how limited the aviation industry’s capability has been when it comes to tracking aircraft, particularly over large bodies of water.

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