Malaysia calls for real time aircraft tracking after the lost of its flight MH370 exposed shortcomings of current technology

Malaysia calls for real-time aircraft tracking

Malaysia has urged the UN Civil Aviation Organisation to press ahead with regulations mandating real-time aircraft tracking as an industry standard.

In a paper released ahead of the three-day UN ICAO conference on safety, starting today, Malaysia, the country that tragically lost two commercial jets in 2014, stated that aircraft tracking must become a priority regardless of cost.

"We believe, based on our unfortunate experience, (it) will be offset by the benefits of enhancing the effectiveness of the alerting and search and rescue services," the paper said.

"The disappearance of MH370 demonstrates the crucial need to improve aircraft tracking systems for the sake of safety and security. In this day and age, the fact that an airplane could go missing and that the flight recorders could be so difficult to recover is unacceptable."

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished on 8 March last year after having diverted from its original route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. The plane, which is believed to have crashed thousands of kilometres away from where it made last contact, has not been found yet.

While the airline industry is divided over real-time tracking due to the additional cost such systems are likely to incur, ICAO is expected to mandate airliners to enable aircraft to send tracking signals at regular intervals in normal flight and to speed them up when they get into trouble.

The organisation is also studying the option of developing ejectable black boxes to simplify recovery of data crucial for determining causes of fatal crashes in oceans.

A strong ICAO mandate to impose flight tracking would need national measures to take effect. The European Union is expected to move quickly to make them law, an EU official has said.

Three high-profile aircraft disasters that occurred above the world’s oceans in the past five years, including Malaysia’s MH370, Air France’s Flight 447 in 2009 and the latest Air Asia disaster, have exposed the shortcomings of current tracking methods, leading to lengthy and expensive search-and-recovery operations.

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