The United Nations body overseeing civil aviation may postpone by two years the requirements for commercial passenger planes to report their position in flight, Reuters has suggested.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), started working on proposals mandating airlines to install technology for automated tracking after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in March last year.
The organisation originally proposed November 2016 as a deadline for all large passenger planes to be fitted with systems enabling them to report their position every 15 minutes. Alternatively, some long-haul aircraft without tracking equipment on board would have been allowed to report their position over radio.
However, an ICAO’s advisory committee has now recommended delaying the regulation until November 2018 to allow airlines more time to install the technology.
At the same time, the committee has proposed scrapping the condition for some aircraft to use radio instead, which means that all aircraft would have to be equipped with the automated tracking systems.
Based on consultations with airlines operating in remote areas, the group, called the Normal Aircraft Tracking Implementation Initiative (NATII), said manual reports could distract pilots, cause safety problems and might not be accurate.
ICAO did not comment directly on the advisory group's recommendations, but said its governing council would make a final decision on timing in November.
"We will continue to work with all concerned to see that flight tracking becomes a commonplace capability sooner than later," a spokeswoman told Reuters.
According to an ICAO source quoted by Reuters, several nations have expressed concerns that the 2016 deadline was too soon because of the planning and training that would be needed.
The European Union is pursuing more stringent plans, calling for a three-minute instead of a 15-minute interval for position reporting to be put in place.
Calls for airlines to constantly track the position of their aircraft first emerged in 2009, after an Air France jet vanished in the South Atlantic.
Although the plane was fitted with systems reporting its position every 10 minutes, the investigators had to scour 17,000-square-km of ocean to locate the plane. It took two years to find the wreckage and retrieve the black boxes.