Ryanair adopts space-based tracking system

May 13, 2019
Ryanair space-based ADS-B
Photo: Ryanair

Ryanair has adopted a space-based system allowing it to more closely track aircraft using satellites that monitor transmissions from its planes.

The European low-cost giant announced the deployment of GlobalBeacon, which combines FlightAware’s data processing and web display prowess with the global space-based  Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast  (ADS-B)  capabilities of Aireon.

European airlines are already required by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency to track the position of their aircraft at least once every 15 minutes. By 2021, it is expected they will need to track an aircraft every minute if it is in distress.

The 15-minute reporting requirement was brought in by the International Civil Aviation Organisation as a result of the losses of Air France Flight 447 and Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

It took almost two years to locate the flight recorders from  AF447 and the Boeing 777 lost in the MH370 tragedy still has not been found more than five years later.

READ: Space-based tracking to revolutionize aviation.

Aireon will help minimize the chances of another airliner disappearing in the way MH370 did and provide additional insights into aircraft accidents

It was also Aireon that provided the refined data that prompted US and Canadian authorities to ground the Boeing 737 MAX after a fatal March 10 crash in Ethiopia.

Ryanair said GlobalBeacon far outperformed the current 15-minute requirement and would enable Ryaniair to meet future flight tracking expectations because it provides minute-by-minute updates.

“At Ryanair, the safety of our customers, crew and aircraft is our number one priority and this latest partnership adds to our already industry-leading safety record,’’ Ryanair chief operating officer Peter Bellew said.

“ Without installing any new equipment on our fleet, we are able to monitor our aircraft without gaps in coverage and will be immediately alerted if one of our aircraft is in distress.

“ FlightAware has made this service extremely cost-effective and easy to deploy.”

Bellew is a former chief executive of Malaysia Airlines and acutely aware of the value of being able to closely track aircraft.

Aireon’s tracking system officially went live in April and uses the Iridium NEXT satellite constellation to provide full, continuous air traffic surveillance across the globe.


  1. In the oil and gas sector, we have been live satellite tracking our contracted aircraft movements for at least the last 15 years. Before satellite technology, we used 15 minute radio position reports and have done since the early 70s. Glad to see the airline industry catching up.