New safety measures call for airlines to report...
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Jan 07, 2015  |  Vote 0    0

New safety measures call for airlines to report position every 15 minutes

The tracking proposal will be considered next month at a high-level aviation safety conference in Montreal, almost a year after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 plane disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing

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The UN agency that oversees international aviation wants commercial airliners to report their positions every 15 minutes while in flight.

The tracking proposal will be considered next month at a high-level International Civil Aviation Organization safety conference in Montreal, almost a year after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 plane disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

Despite searching more than 14,000 square kilometres of the sea floor off Australia, investigators have not turned up any debris or evidence of the missing Boeing 777 jet, which was carrying 239 passengers.

“We’re simply proposing a performance requirement. Airlines can use technology or pilots can report in through voice communications,” said International Civil Aviation Organization spokesman Anthony Philbin in an interview.

Some aircraft are already equipped with such tracking technology, while others may require upgrades or could use radio communications to stay in touch.

Calgary-based Flyht offers technology that can track planes, including immediate data streaming via satellite. Flyht has signed a deal with First Air, which operates in the Canadian north, to place the equipment on its 21 aircraft.

Calls for more tracking have increased in the days since the December 28 crash of an AirAsia jet en route to Singapore from Indonesia.

Rescue crews have spent more than a week scouring waters in search of the plane’s wreckage. The bodies of some of the 162 people on board have been recovered, but main sections of the plane have not been found, including the crucial black boxes that contain data and flight recordings.

After the Malaysia airliner disappeared in March, the International Air Transport Association, which represents the world’s airlines, struck an industry task force to examine what tracking rules should be introduced.

The task force report recommended that airlines evaluate their current tracking capabilities and close any gaps within a 12-month time frame.

“Airlines are taking the tracking issue very seriously. Some already exceed the report’s suggested performance criteria. For others, closing the gap may take more than a 12-month timeline for every aircraft,” said IATA director-general Tony Tyler in a speech given in Geneva in December.

IATA said its members have concerns about the 12-month implementation time frame across all operations.

“As aircraft operators, our members took a serious and practical look at the recommendations. While they are committed to improving, they could not fully endorse what would be practically unachievable for some,” Tyler said in his speech.

He noted that the transponder in the missing Malaysia plane was turned off. “Without speculating on what happened, redesigning the aircraft’s fail-safe systems to make sure that transponders cannot be shut off is well beyond the near-term focus of the task force,” he said.

“So the public should be aware that there is no silver bullet solution on tracking,” he said, adding that tamper proofing will take time to address and implement. “Remember, the sealing of cockpit doors after 9/11 took several years to complete.”

Tyler emphasized in his speech that flying is safe, with more than 100,000 flights landing safely every day around the world.

Toronto Star

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