Radio spectrum allocated for global flight tracking

11 November 2015
By Tereza Pultarova
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Constant aircraft tracking via satellites would not save MH370 but it would have solved the mystery in no time

Constant aircraft tracking via satellites would not save MH370 but it would have solved the mystery in no time

The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) has allocated radio spectrum for global flight tracking for passenger aircraft using satellite-based systems. 

The move follows developments spurred by the so far unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March last year, which prompted the aviation community to look into possibilities of constant monitoring of passenger planes in flight.

The frequency band of 1087.7-1092.3MHz has been allocated, which is already being used for data transmissions between planes and terrestrial stations that are within the line of sight.

Extending the system to cover also communications between planes and satellites and satellites and terrestrial stations will enable creating a complex system capable of tracking passenger planes throughout the flight even over oceans and remote areas.

The ITU agreed on the allocation at its 2015 World Radiocommunication Conference following a call by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Performance criteria for satellite reception of the signals will be established by ICAO.

“In reaching this agreement at WRC-15, ITU has responded in record time to the expectations of the global community on the major issue concerning global flight tracking,” said ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao. “ITU will continue to make every effort to improve flight tracking for civil aviation.”

ITU has been working on standards to facilitate the transmission of flight data in real time since early after the MH370 disaster.

Already in April 2014, less than a month after the aircraft’s disappearance, Malaysian Minister for Communications and Multimedia called upon ITU to address the issue.

“The allocation of frequencies for reception of ADS-B signals from aircraft by space stations will enable real-time tracking of aircraft anywhere in the world,” said François Rancy, Director of the ITU Radiocommunication Bureau. “We will continue to work with ICAO and other international organizations to enhance safety in the skies.”

In October 2014, the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference meeting in Busan, Republic of Korea, instructed WRC-15 to consider global flight tracking in its agenda.

How does satellite aircraft tracking work? Watch the video below:

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