The European Union is preparing legislation to make aircraft tracking from take-off to landing mandatory on new aircraft by 2018.
Prompted by the still-unexplained disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 in March 2014, the move is part of international developments overseen by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
In February, the ICAO recommended that its member states adopt a standard requiring all aircraft to report its position every 15 minutes. As ICAO’s recommendations are not binding, it is up to the individual member states to put regulation in place requesting implementation.
According to Reuters, the EU will not mandate a specific interval for position updates and is even pushing for ICAO to drop this requirement and adopt a more flexible approach.
EU member states agreed to the new measures in July and the European Parliament now has until October 27 2015 to raise objections.
Once the deadline has passed, the regulation will be formally adopted and airlines will have three years to install tracking devices. However, existing aircraft without the technology will not have to be retrofitted.
Technical details for the tracking technology, such as the position update intervals, will be prepared later by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which is allegedly inclined to put forward an even more ambitious three-minute interval.
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing has spurred a fierce debate in the aviation community about constant aircraft monitoring. Similar discussion was aired five years before after Air France Flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic.
Airlines are believed to have objected to the adoption of the technology because of extra cost, although systems enabling constant tracking already exist.