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Price no object for airlines to prevent planes vanishing

May 29, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59New measures to prevent any plane “vanishing” again, in the manner of ill-fated Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, appear to be certain now that major airlines are united on the need for real-time tracking of commercial aircraft.

Cost (which expected to be low or moderate) is no concern to the airlines, a senior official with the United Nations’ aviation agency has said. There is a determination that no commercial passenger aircraft can be allowed to just disappear again.

Member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) governing council agreed earlier this month that global tracking is a necessity. They did not commit to any particular solution or timetable. 250x250TICBanner

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has agreed to come up with proposals for better tracking by the end of September, pledging that its members will  implement measures voluntarily, before any rules are imposed.

Asked by reporters in Kuala Lumpur whether the cost of implementing new standards was an impediment for airlines, director of ICAO’s Air Navigation Bureau, Nancy Graham, said: “Not at all, they’re absolutely in solidarity. There’s no price you can put on safety or certainty on where the aircraft are.”

British satellite operator Inmarsat has already come forward to offer a free, basic tracking service to all the world’s passenger airliners.

Inmarsat already relays distress calls from ships free of charge over its worldwide network. Inmarsat says the free service it is offering would carry definitive aircraft positional information, the BBC has reported. It was brief electronic ‘pings’ from Inmarsat equipment that led investigators to search for wreckage in the remote southern Indian Ocean.

Inmarsat’s free service would see aircraft automatically determine their location using GPS and then transmit that data, together with heading, speed and altitude, over Inmarsat’s global satellite network. Data would be transmitted every 15 minutes, giving any future searchers a lot more information than was available when the Malaysia Airlines B777 inexplicably turned south on a flight to oblivion.

“Our equipment is on 90% of the world’s wide-body jets already,” Inmarsat senior vice-president Chris McLaughlin told BBC News. “This is an immediate fix for the industry at no cost to the industry.”

European agency EASA has already toughened guidelines for black-box flight recorders.

Written by : Peter Needham

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