Malaysia Airlines is first to adopt global flight tracking

MALAYSIA Airlines has good reason to welcome its new fleet-wide global tracking system developed by international aviation telecommunications specialist SITA.

Malaysia Airlines is the first carrier to adopt SITA’s real-time, space-based alerting system for flight tracking that combines SITAOnAir, Aireon and FlightAware products.

It means Malaysia Airlines has 100 percent global flight tracking of its entire fleet. Aviation analysts see it as a vital step in Malaysia Airlines recovering the global travelling public’s faith after the tragic losses of flights MH17 and MH370 in 2014. 

“Real-time global aircraft tracking has long been a goal of the aviation community,” Malaysia Airlines chief operating officer, Captain Izham Ismail said.

“We are proud to be the first airline to adopt this solution using space-based ADS-B data as part of SITAOnAir’s AIRCOM FlightTracker.”

France-based SITA – originally known as Société Internationale de Télécommunications Aéronautiques – has developed the system to deliver real-time position updates of Malaysia Airlines’ airborne fleet globally to the airline’s aircraft operations centre.

Under the agreement, all Malaysia Airlines aircraft will have access to minute-by-minute, 100 percent global, flight tracking data, delivered by SITAOnAir’s Aircom FlightTracker.
This solution enhances the existing SITAOnAir Aircom FlightTracker by adding Aireon’s space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data to the existing data from FlightAware’s multiple global sources, complementing active Air Navigation Service Provider (ANSP) Future Air Navigation System (FANS) activity data.
Aireon’s space-based ADS-B data will also resolve any existing data feed coverage gaps that remain, particularly over oceanic and remote airspace, where there is currently no surveillance.
No new avionics or modifications are needed for aircraft to use this service.
“With the addition of the AireonSM data, via FlightAware, to SITAOnAir’s Aircom FlightTracker, combined with our active monitoring and automated alerting capabilities, Malaysia Airlines will be at the cutting-edge of real-time flight-tracking technology,” Aircom portfolio director at SITAOnAir, Paul Gibson said.

“With access to up-to-the-minute reporting, Malaysia Airlines will know the location, heading, speed and altitude of all aircraft in its fleet, at all times, and be alerted of any exceptions.”
FlightAware provides a combination of global air traffic control data, aircraft datalink information and terrestrial ADS-B data through a secure streaming data feed. Once the Aireon system is operational, expected in 2018, airlines already using SITAOnAir’s Aircom FlightTracker will automatically begin seeing the new Aireon data appear in their systems, without the need for costly modifications.
“In addition to not requiring any new avionics or modifications to their aircraft, Malaysia Airlines will seamlessly gain real-time flight tracking ability of its fleet, even in areas where regional Air Navigation Service Providers do not have full surveillance,” FlightAware chief executive officer, Daniel Baker said.

“The result will be that Malaysia Airlines will have greater visibility of its aircraft’s exact location.”
Aireon chief executive officer Don Thoma sais, “Malaysia Airlines has taken a lead role in the industry since the tragic events of 2014. Real-time, global flight tracking, anywhere on the planet will further its safety goals, by allowing Malaysia Airlines to track its aircraft anytime, anywhere.” 

Aireon’s space-based ADS-B system will offer a global solution that works for all ADS-B Out equipped aircraft everywhere. ADS-B Out mandates have been passed by ANSPs and industry governing bodies around the world, resulting in operators automatically knowing that their aircraft are properly equipped.
The Aireon service will be operational in 2018, shortly after the completion of the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation. On January 14, 2017, the first ten Iridium NEXT satellites carrying the Aireon ADS-B hosted payload were successfully launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

In total, the constellation will consist of 66 operational low-earth-orbit satellites providing global coverage.

The service will also provide air navigation service providers with global aircraft surveillance capability, and is expected to help reduce fuel costs, increase safety and enable more efficient flight paths.




Aviation traffic sees more growth after strong 2016

AUSTRALIA’s domestic aviation industry had record freight movement growth in 2016 as well as a 2 percent increase in patronage to 61.34 million passengers.

Cargo movements on regular passenger transport (RPT) flights were up 20.5 percent to 435,700 tonnes.

The annual domestic airline statistics issued by the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE) were an encouraging sign for an industry that has endured a turbulent round of commercial failures and setbacks over the past decade. 

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester said these were “strong figures” and claimed it was evidence the government's policies to grow the Australian aviation industry were succeeding.

“From January to December 2016 we saw growth in almost all areas of domestic aviation, and particularly encouraging is the rebound in freight movement after a low 2015,” Mr Chester said.

“These latest figures also show that, with 26.93 million passenger movements recorded in 2016, Sydney has maintained its position as Australia's busiest domestic airport, followed by Melbourne with 24.78 million passenger movements.

“The Australian Government is working hard to support the momentum by delivering key airport infrastructure upgrades, aviation reforms and reducing red tape,” he said.

“The Melbourne-to-Sydney route was again the nation's busiest with the number of passenger movements increasing by 3.4 percent to 8.9 million, compared to 2015.

“It's also pleasing to see continued growth at our regional airports where 24 million domestic passenger movements were recorded in 2016 — a 1.3 percent increase on 2015.

“Of the top 50 regional airports, the strongest growth was at Wellcamp airport near Toowoomba with 120,700 passenger movements in 2016 in only its second full year of operation,” Mr Chester said.

“Based on January 2017 figures it looks like the trend in growth is continuing with a 2.8 percent increase to 5.15 million passengers travelling within Australia compared to January 2016, and an increase in cargo movement of 10.8 percent to 33,600 tonnes.”



Easier flying in to US market

AUSTRALIA’s aviation industry – including manufacturers and service companies – now has easier and cheaper access to the lucrative United States aviation market, after the signing of amendments to the bilateral aviation agreement.

Federal Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Darren Chester said the amendments would be a significant benefit to Australian aviation parts and products designers and manufacturers. Mr Chester said the changes would also benefit Australian companies and individuals who export aircraft and aircraft products to the US.

“There are more than 40 Australian aviation design organisations and more than 80 aviation production organisations that will have lower costs and less red tape when exporting to the US market,” Mr Chester said.

“A range of Australian design and manufacturing approvals will now be accepted in the US without the need for additional and sometimes costly work.

“People and organisations wanting to sell their aircraft into the US should have fewer regulatory hurdles to contend with.

“These amendments save money and streamline regulatory requirements without in any way compromising safety standards.

“I know that many large and small aviation organisations have been eagerly awaiting these changes so they can make greater inroads into the huge US aviation market.”

The amendments have been made to the Implementation Procedures on Airworthiness made under the Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement between Australian and the US.



Qantas makes giant non-stop leap on ‘kangaroo route’

QANTAS is adding another string to its bow of aviation firsts by launching the first point-to-point non-stop flights between London and Australia – a 17-hour connection.

Qantas will operate non-stop flights from Perth to London using the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner. The 14,498km service will be the first regular passenger service to directly link Australia with Europe when it begins in March 2018.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said the history-making route would be a watershed for travel, tourism and trade. 

“When Qantas created the Kangaroo Route to London in 1947, it took four days and nine stops. Now it will take just 17 hours from Perth non-stop,” Mr Joyce said.

“This is a game-changing route flown by a game-changing aircraft. Australians have never had a direct link to Europe before, so the opportunities this opens up are huge.

“It’s great news for travellers because it will make it easier to get to London. It’s great news for Western Australia because it will bring jobs and tourism. And it’s great news for the nation, because it will bring us closer to one of our biggest trade partners and sources of visitors.”

In 2015, Qantas operated a one-off B747-400 charter flight from Perth to Istanbul to take Australians to the Centenary of Anzac at Gallipoli – the last time the national carrier flew from Australia to Europe non-stop.

Mr Joyce said passenger comfort on the long flight was a key consideration in the airline’s planning.

“When we designed the interior of our B787s, we wanted to make sure passengers would be comfortable on the extended missions the aircraft was capable of,” he said.

“That’s why we have features in our Economy seats that other airlines reserve for Premium Economy. Our Business Suite has been nicknamed ‘mini First class’ by many of our frequent flyers. And we’re redesigning our on-board service to help reduce jetlag.”

Mr Joyce said the enhanced Qantas cabin design is in addition to the comfort factors that Boeing built in to the Dreamliner – improved air quality, lower cabin noise and technology to reduce turbulence.

Mr Joyce said the direct route is expected to appeal to travellers on the East Coast as well as West Australians, helping to deliver a tourism boost.

“A direct flight makes travelling to Australia a much more attractive proposition to millions of people,” Mr Joyce said. “We expect many travellers from Europe will start their time in Australia with a visit to Perth before going on to see other parts of the country.

“Our modelling shows that people from the East Coast as well as South Australia would fly domestically to Perth to connect to our non-stop London service. Some will take the opportunity to break their journey, whether it’s for business meetings in Perth, to holiday or to visit family.”

The new flight will operate through Qantas’ existing domestic terminals (T3/4), which will be upgraded to accommodate international flights. The airline’s current international services from Perth (to Singapore and to Auckland) will also move to this terminal, helping to simplify the journey for thousands of people every year.

Qantas will move its operations to an expanded Terminal 1 at Perth Airport by 2025, pending a commercial agreement.

“We’ll be looking at the timing of our domestic flights through Perth to offer the best connections we can to our international flights, particularly given they will all be under the one roof,” Mr Joyce said.

“I’d like to acknowledge the support of the West Australian Government and Perth Airport in helping make this service a reality.”

Australian Trade, Tourism and Investment Minister, Steven Ciobo said, “With a range of around 15,000 kilometres, the Boeing 787 has the potential to open even more non-stop destinations with which Australia has never been connected.

“The United Kingdom is Australia's third largest source market for international visitors. More than 660,000 tourists came to Australia from the United Kingdom in the last year, spending $3.7 billion.”

Seats on the Perth-London flights will go on sale in April 2017 for the first services in March 2018. The B787-9 Dreamliners used on the route will carry 236 passengers across Business, Premium Economy and Economy cabins.