Clare-based aircraft tracking system gives rescuers world-wide coverage

Clare-based aircraft tracking system gives rescuers world-wide coverage

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Aireon CEO Don Thoma and Peter Kearney, CEO of the IAA at the launch – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

A new world-wide satellite-based tracking system that will allow emergency services locate a crashed aircraft has been launched in Co Clare.

The world’s first ever global Aircraft Location and Emergency Response Tracking (ALERT) service can track and aircraft in difficulty anywhere in the world.

The Aireon ALERT service is the first of its kind in the world and will based at the IAA’s North Atlantic Communications Centre in Ballygirreen in Clare.

It’s believed, had such a system been in place when Malaysian Airlines flight MH-370 disappeared in 2014, the aircraft’s last recorded position would have been known and the Boeing 777 jet would have been found.

At this morning’s press conference and launch, Aerion CEO Don Thoma confirmed that the Aireon system was used following the crashes of Lion Air flight 610 in October 2018 and Ethio­pian Airlines flight 302 in March of this year. Aireon’s analysis showed that both flights displayed similar flight profile before they crashed.

Until now, only 30% of the Earth’s surface was monitored through conventional ground radar surveillance. With Aireon ALERT however, users now have access to exact location information for aircraft in distress on-demand, which will dramatically benefit global emergency response efforts.

The new Aireon system, which is now live, is a free service available to commercial aircraft operators/airlines, aviation regulators and search and rescue organisations the last known position of any aircraft globally. Almost 200 organisations have already signed up for the system.

IAA CEO Peter Kearney speaking this morning’s event – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

Irish Aviation Authority CEO Mr. Peter Kearney, said: “Our facility in Ballygirreen, Co. Clare is now providing the Aireon ALERT service 24 hours a day, every day. We are excited to play such a critical role in delivering this game-changing service to market. Building on our role as a key player in communications for the North Atlantic, we are now proud to be powering Aireon ALERT for the entire globe.”

Don Thoma addd: “Now that the Aireon system is operational, we are thrilled to deliver this much-needed public service to the industry. Aireon ALERT can provide the most accurate and precise aircraft locating data for emergency and distress situations, free of charge.

As the operator of the world’s only global aircraft surveillance system, we recognise our unique position to provide such a critical service to the aviation community and see it as our duty to provide this data to the proper authorities to assist in emergency situations,” he added.

Mayor of Clare Cathal Crowe thanked Aireon and the IAA for choosing Clare for the system – Photo: © Pat Flynn 2019

Testing of innovative new system completed

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Chief Reporter Pat Flynn has worked as a journalist for almost 30 years. His career began during the late 1980s when, like many aspiring radio presenters of the time, he worked for local pirate radio stations in Clare and Limerick. Pat joined Clare FM in 1990 where he worked as researcher initially and later presented several different programmes including the station's flagship current affairs programme. He was also the station's News Editor and Deputy Controller of Programmes. Despite leaving in 2003 to pursue a career as a freelance journalist, he continues to work with the station to this day. As well as being the Clare Herald’s Chief Reporter Pat is also freelance journalist and broadcaster, contributing to Ireland’s national newspapers and is a regular contributor to national broadcasters.

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