Calls for new technology for real-time aircraft tracking have gained strength following the MH370 disappearance

EU to impose aircraft tracking as aviation community takes too long

The European Union wants to make flight tracking mandatory as the aviation community moves too slowly to decide on the technology widely discussed since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

According to Reuters, the European Commission has presented European airlines with requirements for the new system, largely based on satellite technology to enable real-time aircraft monitoring in areas beyond the reach of ground-based radars.

However, the aviation community has hit back at the commission, urging it to wait for the outcome of the negotiations overseen by the UN’s aviation agency, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

Calls for mandating satellite-based real-time aircraft tracking were first heard after the tragic crash of an Air France jet in the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 and the voices regained strength following the MH370 disaster this year.  

The technology would allow investigators to immediately locate a lost aircraft and could even be used to stream some black-box data via satellites, making it directly available to the investigators when the flight recorders themselves are inaccessible, such as in the cases of both the AF447 and MH370.

In the wake of the MH370 disappearance, ICAO agreed in May that satellite-based aircraft tracking should be made mandatory around the world.

Some airlines already use the technology but procedures vary widely.

The aviation industry lobby group IATA was tasked with developing a proposal for the new system requirements by 30 September but later said it needed more time, with a new deadline set for the end of 2014.

Some aviation industry insiders fear keeping track of aircraft in real time by adding new systems could push up ticket prices and have urged the Commission to focus on solutions based on existing, not new, technology.

In a letter to the European Commission, the Association of European Airlines said a new system "would be disproportionate to its added value," according to a summary of its contents provided to airline chiefs last week, and seen by Reuters.

Airlines and EU officials are expected to meet later this week in order to try to defuse the row, which echoes a recent dispute over unilateral EU action on climate measures.

Read E&T's full news coverage of missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

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