The Complete Guide to Aircraft Satellite Tracking

Unlock the full potential of your aviation operations with aircraft satellite tracking - from real-time location monitoring to improved safety and compliance.

The satellite tracking system is one of the most advanced technologies in aviation. It has been used for decades now and has helped many people find their loved ones in emergency situations. Mainly, it improves peace of mind for operators that want to know where their crew members are at any time.

This article will explain what aircraft satellite tracking is, how it works, and how it helps operators.

  1. What is aircraft satellite tracking?
  2. How does aircraft satellite tracking work?
  3. Why is aircraft satellite tracking important?
  4. What are the best satellite tracking platforms out there?
  5. How do I track my aircraft once I have a tracking platform?
  6. Best practices for aircraft satellite tracking

1. What is Aircraft Satellite Tracking?

Aircraft satellite tracking is a system used to track and monitor the real-time location of an aircraft using hardware that connects with satellite networks like Iridium.

This type of tracking system is being used by countless aviation operators including civil aviation authorities, government agencies, first responders, aerial firefighters, and general aviation operators.

There are two main types of aircraft satellite tracking: Ground-based and space-based systems. Ground-based systems use ground stations to receive signals from satellites, while space-based systems use satellites in orbit to send signals to the ground.

2. How does Aircraft Satellite Tracking Work?

The process of aircraft satellite tracking works by determining the position and speed of an aircraft using data from a tracking device like the RockAIR that can be installed within the aircraft. These devices usually sit on the dashboard for optimal signal strength, as the output signal must be able to penetrate the aircraft and transmit to the satellites.

By communicating with navigation satellites, detailed real-time data on flight variables can then be sent to a server on the ground. This server stores the flight data, which can then be transmitted via telecommunications networks to organizations wishing to interpret it.

RockAIR tracking device in helicopter

3. Why is Aircraft Satellite Tracking Important?

Aircraft satellite tracking systems are important for many reasons. For starters, it allows operators to be more efficient and inform decision-making during missions. But most importantly, it provides peace of mind for everyone involved, knowing that an aircraft's location is in constant visibility if any type of emergency were to occur.

There have been many cases where an aircraft has crashed with no way of knowing where it was until hours or days later when someone found it on radar or saw debris from the crash site floating in the water. If there were satellite tracking systems like TracPlus equipped onboard, then families would be able to find out where their loved ones are with just the click of a button.

This is the original reason TracPlus was founded in 2007: To improve safety outcomes and reduce the risk of avoidable tragic events.

Aircraft satellite tracking also helps with flight planning and mission management. Operators can track their aircraft in real-time and make adjustments to their flight plan as needed. This can help them to avoid bad weather, save fuel, and make sure they stay on schedule.

Another benefit of aircraft satellite tracking is that it can be used for compliance and regulatory purposes. Many civil aviation authorities require that aircraft are equipped with a satellite tracking system, and the data collected can be used to prove compliance with safety regulations.

helicopter rescue kestrel aviation

4. What Are the Best Satellite Tracking Platforms Out There?

There are a few tracking providers out there, but only a few offer the functionality that is usually required by operators.

TracPlus Cloud is one platform that provides real-time tracking, communications, and reporting for aircraft, vehicles, vessels, and personnel around the globe. The TracPlus Cloud solution can be installed seamlessly across desktop, web, and mobile devices.

Tracking an aircraft on the TracPlus Cloud platform interface

Tracking an aircraft on the TracPlus Cloud platform interface

5. How Do I Track My Aircraft Once I Have a Tracking Platform?

If you choose to use TracPlus as your tracking provider, the TracPlus support team helps to set up your organization within the platform. Once properly set up and installed, your organization can view your assets and data.

Your asset locations are displayed on a map inside the platform, with the option to choose between different map layering options like terrain view, hybrid view, or adding your own custom layers in a KML/KMZ format.

6. Best Practices for Aircraft Satellite Tracking

Once you are equipped with an asset-tracking solution like TracPlus, you are then granted the ability to perform your operations with best practices. You will be able to:

In an emergency, reduce search areas and save time by knowing where your people are – anywhere, anytime.

TracPlus makes it easy to manage your fleet, staff and data so your business is more efficient and compliant.

In an increasingly regulated environment, TracPlus delivers proof of compliance with legislative and contractual obligations.

TracPlus is the only truly-agnostic tracking platform on the market, integrating with multiple providers. This means you can enjoy the freedom of using different systems and hardware that are right for you and your individual needs.

In an emergency or on demand, quickly and securely share tracking and event data, at the touch of a button.

TracPlus integrates with third-party tracking and technology providers so you can easily share data for contractual work and streamline administration.

TracPlus Cloud is the asset satellite tracking platform trusted by 700+ global operators including CAL FIRE, Kestrel Aviation, and SDG&E.


Overall, aircraft satellite tracking is a valuable tool for aviation operators. It improves safety, efficiency, and compliance, while also providing peace of mind for operators and families of crew members. With a variety of providers and platforms available, it's easy to find a solution that fits the needs of any organization. As an operator, you should consider implementing a satellite tracking system in your aircraft.

At the end of the day, if you take the safety of your crew and personnel seriously, then you need to be investing in an aircraft satellite tracking platform. It's a small investment that can have a big impact on the safety and security of your operations. Many operators we talk to say that the peace of mind a satellite tracking system provides is worth every penny. After all, what price can you really put on somebody's life?


Want to make sure you’re investing in a tracking system that best fits your needs? Talk to our team today - we’re always happy to help out.

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