The UN International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has streamlined rules governing usage of the warning website it set up to let countries warn of potential attacks against aircraft, as part of a global response to the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014.
Countries can now post warnings immediately about threats to commercial aircraft in their airspace. Importantly, however, countries can only post warnings about threats in their own airspace.
This stipulation, Reuters says, was because previously any warning posted relating to foreign airspace could be delayed as long as 72 hours, until the country concerned was given the chance to respond. Some countries have been concerned that rivals could use the site for political ends.
The website is: http://www.icao.int/safety/globaltracking/Pages/Homepage.aspx
After MH17 was shot down in July 2014 in Ukraine, killing 298 people, ICAO established a special Task Force on risks to civil aviation arising from conflict zones. The task force recommended that ICAO should establish an online repository where countries could share their conflict zone information more effectively, and where the public could also access it.
ICAO points out that the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, en-route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing China, on 8 March 2014, triggered a global search that continues. Prior to this Air France flight 477 from Brazil to France was lost in the Atlantic Ocean. The aircraft’s flight data recorders were recovered only after a two year search.
Shortly after the Malaysia Airlines event, a special Multidisciplinary Meeting on Global Flight Tracking (MMGFT) was convened at ICAO Headquarters in Montréal, Canada, to propose recommendations for future actions. One of the main decisions taken was the need for operators to pursue global tracking of airline flights at a faster pace.
Written by Peter Needham