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At least 2 compete on satellite plane tracking

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 2, 2014 at 4:36 pm •  Published: April 2, 2014

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A small Louisiana company says it's working toward federal approval of satellite GPS technology to provide second-by-second tracking of airplanes anywhere in the world.

The Federal Aviation Administration's next-generation air traffic control technology uses ground-based tracking stations small enough that they're mounted on oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

Systems using only satellites are faster, cannot be blocked by mountains and other geographical features, and can track planes over oceans where ground-based stations cannot reach, Globalstar Inc. CEO Jay Monroe said Wednesday.

Real-time tracking surfaced as an issue after controllers lost contact with Malaysian Air's Flight 370 bound for Beijing on March 8. The jetliner's data communications systems, called the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, had been turned off, Malaysian officials have said.

It used the sort of transmitter that will be required by 2020 on all flights in U.S.-controlled airspace.

Satellite-based systems should become the standard, the Virginia-based Flight Safety Foundation said Tuesday.

"Given existing technology, we simply should not be losing contact with aircraft for unknown reasons," Kenneth Hylander, the foundation's acting president and CEO, said in a news release.

Monroe said his publicly held Covington, La.-based satellite GPS company and Technologies Inc. of Anchorage, Alaska, have such a system, using a smartphone-sized antenna on top of an airplane to beam signals for the FAA-approved technology, called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast or ADS-B, to Globalstar's 24-satellite network.

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