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After MH370 disappears, Inmarsat offers free tracking

Jessica Morris, special to

U.K. satellite company Inmarsat is offering a free tracking service to all passenger airlines -- an issue that drew international attention after Malaysian Airlines' MH370 disappeared on March 8.

The company, whose share price jumped on the news, provided information critical in moving the international search towards the Indian Ocean.

The offices of satellite operator Inmarsat in central London.
Leon Neal | AFP | Getty Images

The jet had disappeared from civilian radar screens less than an hour after take-off and after its transponder was turned off, complicating the effort to determine the flight's path.

Inmarsat is offering to track passenger planes already equipped with an Inmarsat satellite connection -- virtually all of the world's long-haul commercial fleet.

Read MoreTimeline of Flight MH370

The company is also offering a service whereby if a plane veers off-course unexpectedly, information from the aircraft's "black box recorder" would be streamed to a designated organisation.

Black boxes record cockpit data and can help investigators determine what happens on a plane just before it goes down. Typically they have a life-span of 30 days after which the battery on its "pinger" locator beacon will run out.

Tony Abbott: MH370 search entering a new phase
Tony Abbott: MH370 search entering a new phase

Rupert Pearce, CEO of Inmarsat, said: "In the wake of the loss of the MH370, we believe this is simply the right thing to do."

"Because of the universal nature of existing Inmarsat aviation services, our proposals can be implemented right away on all ocean-going commercial aircraft using equipment that is already installed".

"This offer responsibly, quickly and at little or no cost to the industry, addresses in part the problem brought to light by the recent tragic events around MH370."

Read MoreAfter MH370,Malaysia Airlines under scrutiny

The announcement was made before a conference hosted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) in Montreal, Canada on May 12.

The conference will focus on improving global flight tracking.

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