General Aviation. Direct & Unfiltered.


Aircraft tracking company spidertracks has launched the next generation aircraft emergency location system, specifically designed for GA pilots.

Spidertracks Aviator is a complete safety solution that turns on automatically, tracks the aircraft from take-off to landing, with position reports sent via the Iridium satellite network, to the Aviator website. It will automatically send emergency SOS messages within minutes of an accident, with guaranteed reliability because the alerts are generated by the system, not the hardware in the aircraft. This patented “pilot proof” aircraft location system has been coupled with a new social networking-based website that lets pilots share their flights and their love of flying with other aviators to create a package unlike anything else on the market.

Spidertracks Aviator is being launched in conjunction with a new spider tracking device, the S3, which has been designed around the recently release Iridium 9602 modem. It is smaller, lighter designed to sit on the dash of a light aircraft and still completely portable with integrated antenna and keypad, and powered by auxiliary power.

The S3 will retail at USD995 and spidertracks is offering new pricing plans to suit the number of hours pilots fly, making it the most accessible dedicated aircraft location system on the market. Access to the Aviator website is free and open to pilots who aren’t spidertracks customers but who want to follow other pilots, from around the world. Spidertracks Aviator will be sold alongside the existing spidertracks offering, to be renamed Fleetpro. Fleetpro is more flexible and has additional functionality making it ideal for managing aircraft fleets.

Spidertracks marketing manager Rachel Donald says Aviator is primarily an emergency location system designed to improve the survivability of pilots and crew in an accident situation. “You can’t rely on your ELT to survive the crash and transmit. The records show ELTs fail to transmit in the majority of aircraft accidents because the units or the aerials are damaged in the crash. When the ELT doesn’t work searchers are reliant on your flight plan or last known radar position. The search area could be huge. We don’t think that is acceptable.

“Spidertracks turns emergency alert thinking on its head because the SOS message is sent from the web-based system via satellite when the spider tracking device stops sending position updates. The system knows when you have an accident, it knows where you are based on your last reported position and sends SOS messages automatically within minutes to your friends and family. They can notify emergency services so you can be found quickly. The spider tracking device doesn’t have to survive the crash to make sure you do.”

Ms Donald says because spidertracks is software-based it opened up opportunities to develop a whole new product. “We thought, we’re gathering this information for our clients – what else can we do for them? How could they have fun with it?”

On the new Aviator website pilots can record, store and share their flying experiences with other pilots.

“We wanted pilots to be able to share their love of flying. Aviator includes an online logbook that automatically updates how far you flew and for how long. You just fill in the details and can upload photos to add to the flight. We keep a permanent record of every flight made that can be reviewed anytime and your flights can also be followed by others in real-time, when you’re flying. Pilots can share their tracks with others and on other social network sites like Facebook, or “follow” pilots who have made their flights public.

“The second part of the site is the Clubroom which is a forum where likeminded pilots can create or join ‘groups’ for discussions, to share flights and information, to ask questions. Our hope is that pilots will use it as channel to communicate with other pilots from all over the world and as resource. For example, if I wanted to go flying in Arizona I could search for pilots for Arizona, view their flights if they’ve made them public, and ask them questions about where to fly based on their local knowledge.”

Ms Donald says they are very excited about the new offering because it brings together a number of elements for the first time, in a way only spidertracks can.

“No other tracking or location system is offering anything like this. The whole package has been designed especially for aviators. It’s an automatic alerting safety system and automatically populating online logbook; it tracks your flights and it’s a social networking site for pilots who love flying. With the new S3 hardware, designed specifically for light aircraft, we think we have something very different. And with the new pricing, there is no excuse for pilots not to have the most reliable emergency location system available.”

Spidertracks Aviator offers a number of other features including automatic take-off and landing text and email notifications and the ability to send four pre-programmed text or email messages from the air via satellite, offering easy communication with the ground when outside cell or radio cover.

Spidertracks Aviator will be launched at AirVenture 2010 at Oshkosh at stand 3133.

About Spider Tracks Ltd

New Zealand-based Spider Tracks Ltd has been at the forefront of the satellite-based aircraft tracking since launching the first truly portable tracking device in 2007, using the Iridium satellite network, with tracks accessible via the internet. It pioneered active monitoring of flights by the website in 2008, and followed this in 2009 with the launch of spiderwatch, the automatically activated web-based flight following service that reliably sends out emergency SOS messages within minutes of an accident. The automatic activation of active tracking has been patented by Spider Tracks Ltd.

Spider Tracks Ltd is a champion for pilot safety and is actively lobbying for automatic alerting tracking systems to be accepted by aviation authorities as alternatives for Emergency Locator Transmitters which it believes are costing pilots lives due to their high failure rate.