Aircraft tracking changes mulled after MH370 mystery

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 12:03

Montreal: Tracking aircraft by satellite, cloud storage of black box data and other technological innovations were being considered by aviation officials in the wake of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370`s disappearance.

The fate of MH370 has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history since it vanished on March 8 during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

Despite a massive international search in the Indian Ocean, no trace of the missing Boeing 777 has been found.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is holding a special meeting yesterday and today in Montreal to discuss how to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy as well as the mystery that surrounds it.

"Meeting participants will explore the use of existing technologies that may provide the means to support globally track airline flights at a reasonable cost," said a statement.
These technologies could allow, for example, basic data such as an aircraft`s position, altitude, speed and course recorded and transmitted via satellite in the event of a sudden change, said the ICAO.

French authorities had already lobbied the ICAO to adopt the new standards following the June 2009 crash of an Air France flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris that killed 228.

The jetliner`s black box was not recovered from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean until 2011, after an exhaustive search of a zone not covered by ground radar.

"For the general public, it has become unthinkable that a flight can simply disappear," says a European Union discussion paper posted on the ICAO website.
"An aircraft should be permanently tracked, even beyond radar coverage and in case of an accident, it should be immediately located."

Ahead of the two-day meeting, the ICAO asked industry groups for a complete list of technologies that might be useful to the airline sector.

Twenty-two companies, including Globalstar and Rockwell Collins, responded to the call.

"The responses received so far to the ICAO questionnaire showed that there are existing commercial off-the-shelf solutions providing global coverage for hardware costs under USD 100,000," said the ICAO.

British satellite operator Inmarsat has also offered a basic tracking service to all of the world`s passenger airlines free of charge.

AFP

First Published: Tuesday, May 13, 2014 - 12:03

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