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Missing Malaysian jet spurs interest in tracking services

Published on May 15, 2014 3:55 AM

NEW YORK/MONTREAL (REUTERS) - In the aftermath of the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, companies that provide satellite connections and WiFi service to airplanes are battling for a lucrative new market: selling plane-tracking services.

The United Nation's aviation agency gave industry the green light on Tuesday to improve aircraft tracking on a voluntary basis while it develops mandatory standards.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak added pressure by calling for the agency to require real-time tracking of civilian aircraft, a mandate that could create a market worth billions of dollars to companies that make the systems, such as Inmarsat PLC and Iridium Communications Inc.

Satellite providers say their systems could have easily tracked the missing Malaysian jet, had the plane's tracking equipment remained in operation. The plane disappeared from tracking screens on March 8 during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, presumably because its transponder was shut off.

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