Aircraft set to get minute-by-minute tracking

Posted Feb 1, 2015 by James Walker
A new initiative aims to equip all commercial flights worldwide with technology that would enable minute-by-minute tracking of the plane in times of distress, aiding rescuers and recovery efforts.
Malaysia-based AirAsia plane.
Malaysia-based AirAsia plane.
File photo: AFP / Roslan Rahman
Airlines would need to equip their aircraft with a system that ordinarily reports the plane's location every 15 minutes. If the tracker detected an "abnormal event" such as a sudden change in direction or substantial deviation from anticipated route, the report rate changes to every minute so that air traffic controllers can get a better idea of where the flight is.
If rescuers noted a distress signal, it would be possible to locate the aircraft to within six nautical miles (11 kilometres) of its last known position. Airlines will also become responsible for sharing data with authorities in emergencies.
The proposal comes from ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organisation, and will be presented to all 191 ICAO member states at a Montreal meeting this week. It is likely to find unanimous support and be ratified within six months after a final proposal is submitted to the group.
ICAO is also going to request a change to the black box flight recorders used by air investigators after accidents. ICAO wants ejectable, floating black boxes to be mandatory on aircraft by 2021, aiding recovery after a crash over the ocean where the flight data sinks with the plane to the bottom of the sea.
The changes come after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 last year from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing which has never been recovered. With 239 people onboard, its location remains unknown. It is thought that the new tracking technologies could prevent such a disaster occurring again in the future.