May 12 (Bloomberg) -- Communications satellite operator Inmarsat Plc will offer free tracking for all commercial passenger jets linked to its network in response to the disappearance of Malaysian Air Flight 370 over the Indian Ocean.
The service will be available to about 11,000 planes, almost all of the world’s long-haul fleet, the London-based company said in a statement today. Inmarsat also plans to offer a “black box in the cloud” feature that will stream flight-data and cockpit-voice recorder information to safety officials if a plane does something unexpected such as deviating from its approved course.
After the March 8 disappearance of the Malaysian Air jet, Inmarsat engineers calculated two possible trajectories from the aircraft’s signals to its satellites and applied principles relating to the impact of movement on sound waves to determine it had headed south over the Indian Ocean. The search has become the longest in modern aviation history.
“In the wake of the loss of MH370, we believe this is simply the right thing to do,” Inmarsat Chief Executive Officer Rupert Pearce said in the statement. The proposals can be implemented immediately, using equipment already installed on long-haul planes.
In addition to the free tracking service, the satellite company also plans to offer an improved position reporting service, it said. The proposals were made as the International Civil Aviation Organization begins a meeting today in Montreal to discuss aircraft tracking.
No debris has been found from the plane, and searchers are using submarines to dive deep into the ocean. The flight-data and voice recorders stored in the aircraft would provide the most valuable clues to the disappearance. The Boeing 777 carried 239 passengers and crew.
European Aviation Safety Agency requirements proposed last week in response to the loss would triple the transmission time of underwater locating devices to 90 days from 30. Equipment on larger jets flying overseas should also have a greater range or be more accurate, EASA said on May 6.
Once adopted by the European Commission, the rules will apply to all jets and helicopters registered in an EASA member state.
Fatalities from jetliner crashes fell by almost 50 percent last year, buoyed by an improved record in Africa that made the region safer than former Soviet countries, the International Air Transport Association said April 1. There were 210 deaths from commercial aviation accidents, down from 414 in 2012, according to the Montreal-based industry group. The number of fatal crashes rose by one to 16.
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