GlobalBeacon will employ ADS-B low-orbit satellites from Iridium Communications to track flights. The system will provide airlines with near real-time details on planes through a web-based tool. Aireon's new tech was originally meant to provide air traffic controllers a way to improve efficiency when routing flights, but FlightAware plans to debut a tracking product next week at the same time the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) meets in Montreal. The ICAO will require a 15-minute standard for location updates on normal flights by 2018 with more frequent pings in the case of an emergency.
This isn't the first time a company has suggested using satellite tracking for airliners. Inmarsat proposed free global tracking with its satellites for airlines back in 2014, a couple months after MH370 disappeared. Panasonic Avionics is also lending its equipment through AirMap, another web-based tracking tool that offers custom alerts for things like turbulence, sudden drops in altitude or a derivation from the flight path. It also allows an airline to establish contact with a plane via text or voice messages and can provide updates on a minute-by-minute basis.