A stunning image of more than 15,000 airplane flights from around the world shows that satellite tracking of commercial aircraft is moving closer to reality.
The problem with tracking airplanes by ground-based radar is made tragically clear every time planes vanish. When a plane flies over remote regions or vast oceans, the aircraft may disappear from the radar tracking system. In March 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared from radar over the Gulf of Thailand and its whereabouts remain unknown.
The National Transportation and Safety Board recommended a solution in a January report: real-time satellite tracking. Private companies already sell transmitters that can send signals from planes to satellites every minute. In the United States, the NextGen (Next Generation Air Transportation System) satellite-based tracking system is scheduled for a full rollout by 2025. [The 5 Real Hazards of Air Travel]