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Communicator of the Week: Inmarsat

25th March 2014


The horrendous ordeal for the families of the passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is nearing an end thanks to the intervention of a British satellite company.

While a long line of Malaysian officials have been competing with each other to become crisis communications case studies in how not to react in a crisis the families pain at the loss of their relatives has been prolonged.

Sadly, the news is not positive for those on board the plane which has been missing for two weeks but, at last, we find someone who has communicated well in this most difficult of situations. 

I’m far from au fait with lots of technology but the plain explanation from Inmarsat as to how their satellites ‘talked’ to the missing airliner was easily understood even by me.

Basically, although the communications systems on the Malaysia Airlines aircraft were turned off the Inmarsat satellite continued to receive ‘pings’ from the plane. These pings when measured for the time they were sent and returned to and from the satellite which allowed Inmarsat to spot a pattern and plot a likely route for the flight.  

Unlike others in this crisis who have been too prone to speculation, Inmarsat kept their powder dry and continued their investigations through cross referencing their data with that from others such as Boeing and crash investigation teams. Only when they were sure of their calculations and that their data was reliable did they make public their research. This has led the multi-national search efforts to narrow down their search considerably and raises hopes the important black box data recorder on the plane will be found. 

As well as assisting with this important search Inmarsat have also taken this opportunity to point out the advantage technology they provide brings to commercial planes.

With care they have outlined how this technology would prevent prolonged searches like the one we have witnessed - and the relatives have suffered - over the last two weeks. All in all Inmarsat have communicated with care and a lot of class which is why they are my Communicator of the Week.   

Communicator of the Week is written by Ed Staite.



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