A new reported reveals that a satellite network is capable of tracking planes across the world, tracked the flight path of the Boeing 737 Max that crashed last Sunday. This data was critical in convincing the United States to ground the jet, following the lead of other countries around the world.
The FAA was convinced by the erratic, six minute flight of the Ethiopian Airlines plane, finding that it was close enough to an October 29th crash of another 737 Max off of the coast of Indonesia to "warrant concerns". After the data was reviewed, "it became clear -- to all parties, actually -- that the track of the Ethiopian Airlines flight was very close and behaved very similarly to the Lion Air flight," according to the agency's Acting Administrator, Daniel Elwell .
Marc Garneau, Canada's transport minister, also used satellite tracking to make his determination to ground the 737 Max.
The company that provides the flight tracking data is Aireon LLC - it was formed in 2012 by Iridium Communications and Nav Canada, a nonprofit entity that guides air traffic in Canada. Aireon will introduce a new commercial airline tracking service this week. Don Thoma, Aireon's chief executive officer, said in an interview last month: "We now have a global picture of all aircraft. It's finally real. It's finally here."